Let us begin on a positive note. We have been able to sustain ourselves as a relatively stable democracy after having to dribble across potentially volatile situations on a regular basis. This is nothing short of a miraculous achievement. Secondly, our National economy has huffed and puffed its way towards respectability. These accomplishments seem substantial when surveyed from a distance. However, if functional governance and Gross National Happiness (GNH) are taken as indices, the picture might not turn out to be so rosy.
Where did we falter and what are the probable remedies? Is a quick clinical surgery the solution or should we go in for a prolonged treatment akin to the "full body cleansing" carried out in Ayurveda? I suggest the latter.
(I) We have almost criminally erred in the spheres of education, health-care and governance. Govenment funded schools and hospitals are grossly inadequate in terms of staff, funds and amenities. The state of our highways, power & water supply and civic services is just short of pathetic. Here are some suggested remedies:-
1. Eventhough there is no single solution for all these ailments, freedom from governmental control is a necessary medication. Where completely privatising basic services is not practicable, a balanced public-private partnership may be the answer.
2. Accountability of government servants has to be ensured. Certain strict parameters have to be set in each field and individuals/agencies made answerable for not meeting laid down standards.
3. Corruption has to be dealt with strictly and the offenders punished in public view. Corruption at the functional level does tremendous harm to the psyche of the common man as compared to institutionalised corruption at higher levels.
4. Government agencies/departments should have powers to summarily punish non-performers and give incentives to the worthy.
5. Officers need to be paid better..... atleast close to their counterparts in the private sector.There is no other way to maintain standars of calibre.
6. All departments must be provided good quality equipment as required by them to perform their tasks safely , efficiently and with dignity. (for eg. - all muncipal cleaners/ sweepers should have overalls, gum-boots and related kit; all schools should have requisite furniture, teaching aids, labs, hygienic toilets and most importantly qualified teachers).
(II) I am convinced that success in two essential areas can radically transform the energy levels in our country.Firstly, inculcating a strong value system in children through schools and social institutions. Secondly, inducing a positive work culture in our society. These are by no means simple tasks, but even if partially accomplished will serve as apt investment for the future of our country.We need to overcome our "chalta hai" attitude and learn to respect excellence. Every individual should take pride in his own work and try to be perfect in his domain.
(III) Obsession with "cost-cutting" (you may call it the "lowest-bidder syndrome") is a major cause of poor standards of equipment and services.
Imagine well turned out policemen efficiently managing traffic on a puddle-less eight-lane highway in your town .....imagine getting your passport within a week of filing the application, without having to "warm his pockets" .......imagine .. imagine .. imagine ....all of it is possible. Let us all stop cribbing till 15 August 2008 and do all that is supposed to be done by a good citizen... and not take our freedom for granted ..... next time an officer asks you for a bribe , don't crib your way back home with an empty wallet ... have the spunks to waste your time and take him to court.
There is definite reason for hope.....there is no dearth of patriotism in our countrymen and it is not that people don't feel mortified when climbing up a pothole on a National Highway or when confronted with a corrupt official while trying to acquire a driving license. It is only that we are often unable to wriggle out of our private realms.
Being an eternal optimist I have an intuitive feeling that the tipping-point is in the vicinity ..... the only factor lacking is leadership.We need a dynamic leader who can affect the conscience of the masses in a Gandhisque fashion .... and ignite a national revolution for change ... who merely has to stand up at the Red Fort and give out "do's and don'ts" for the Nation to follow blindly. Let us all pray hard to the Almighty to despatch HIM/HER forthwith... and even while waiting for him/her to descend, do all our duties as citizens of this great Country.....JAI HIND...
Listen to our Father of the Nation ...here