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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Mumbai Nightmare

The recent incidence of a major fire at Sachivalaya at Mumbai shocked the nation. That an uncontrolled fire could take place literally at the seat of power that too in broad daylight is a shining example of unacceptable scenarios that we have over time learnt to expect as well as accept. The aftermath of the incident saw the media losing little time in questioning the fire prevention and fire redressal systems that apparently led to the catastrophe. The prompt initiation of the blame game and an enquiry, both failed to inspire confidence.

The simultaneous incident of Mahi, a child aged five falling into an uncovered borewell in Haryana is also a mirror of the state of affairs in the nation. Despite the full might of the state being activated for recovering the child from the sixty five feet deep pit, timely recovery of Mahi appears a bleak preposition. And once again there is a clamor at the root of which is our purported failure to learn a lesson from the similar case of Prince that happened around six years ago.

What catastrophe are we facing next? This question is always on the minds of the common citizen, for India is not the United States of America where one shattering episode is enough and never repeated. The 9/11 incident to be precise, howsoever horrific it may have been, had been enough to stir a nation into action and say “So far and no further”. A resolve so strong and so successfully implemented, that the country has since then not witnessed even a single act of terrorism.

But India is different. We have a brand new disaster almost every month. It may be a major fire, an act of terror, an accident or even children falling into uncovered borewells, incidents that shock and lead to widespread outrage and anguish, yet to no avail. The incident that is more of a symptom than a disease in itself is conveniently forgotten in a few days and remembered only when something similar happens somewhere else. 

When shall we learn to differentiate between a symptom and the disease it causes? Yet, it is sad that platitudes not resolves continue to be mouthed by the men who matter. The blame game remains on, only the subject matter keeps on shifting and what the nation gets are mere assurances of taking necessary action to ensure that such incidents do not recur. All till the next incident surfaces.

And then the whole story gets repeated again ad-infinitum.

The cause of such incidents that happen with amazing regularity has perhaps much more to do with the way things are made to happen in the realm of the governments. Expecting an isolated sector to perform well in isolation shall always remain a futile expectation. The fact however remains that in this country of over a twelve hundred million, we have miserably failed in even providing the basic necessities of sanitation, housing, education and food after almost sixty seven years of existence as a free nation. Does this not raise eyebrows, or have we started accepting this stark reality as fait accompli? I bet we have! Moreover how does one expect a nation that has been only a limited success in certain areas, be expected to do exceedingly well in all sectors. Yes we have entered the select club of atomic powers and space, but to what avail. We still have widespread poverty and beggers can be seen thronging the roads almost everywhere. 
The delivery orientation of the various organs of the state needs to be looked at in depth. The decision making and implementation mechanisms need overhaul. The delivery mechanisms in vogue in governments cutting across sectors and states, exceptions apart, have since independence remained archaic and over complex, thereby enabling only a cosmetic treatment of even minor issues plaguing the nation. The fault lies in the system that was designed to rule over a foreign populace, but being continued in a democratic setup in almost its original form with mistrust being at the core of it, and that hampers delivery. The complexity of the tantra leads to low productivity and massive corruption that touches the lives of the ordinary citizen almost always. 

How does a nation that accepts rampant corruption as a way of life, expect its organs to be efficient in delivery orientation and prevent the occurance of incidences that we inspired by the regularity are even forgetting to abhor. Yes, corruption exists even in the developed world but there it has neither emerged as a way of life, nor affects the common citizen in the manner it does here. It is perhaps only in India where a common citizen is unable to get anything done from the sarkari system, be it getting an FIR registered, a ration card, an electricity connection, a contract or the house registered without the customary greasing of palms. Here any act that requires interaction with the Governmental machinery is invariably sticky with exceptions that are a rarity. 

If we as a nation are really concerned that the nightmare like the one in Mumbai or in Haryana are not repeated, a determined effort to bring probity in public life will be needed. Integrity will then have to take a front seat, but that would also need a churning of the entire system of governance, decision making and implementation. Easier said than done, but nation building, peace and prosperity do not come easy or cheap. A hefty price would have to be paid either way. Are we ready?


  1. There are two ways to face problems, fight or flight. we are more accustomed to adopt the latter way. The disease doesn't lie outside rather it's inside. In actuality of the sense, we try to avoid or get away from the root cause. This we do by either getting away physically or creating sheild as barrier in between. just to remind your own self, you will never find the door's open of the room of any bureacrat. it is always closed. if at all to be opened it will be cautiously and never be opened fully and shut immediately. You are welcome out never in, in is reserved 'cause it's prized.

    This is the way we do to ourselves too. If you remember, once I commented on your blog, as thousands of years of our segregation and segmentation can't be done away with in few years of our so called freedom available in books only, similarly, expecting very high pace of change in mindset of the populace seems purely impractical idea.

    As far as the question of the cost of life of an average fellow countrymen is concerned, it is not known better to anyone than the average indian.

    The level of concern for corruption should evenly match the level of development of any society. when we talk of corruption, we seem to be out of the reality, in a flight mode not in a fighting mode.

    Even in our own minds, how far we have reached after 2/3 or 4 generations of english mode education? how much of change have we actually effected in our mindsets aprat from english mode of dressing, how far have we reached.

    how many brahmins are ready to marry off thier sons to girls from lowest of the lower castes. It's all inside our minds however, we are never in a accepting mode, never ever. this is all due to our inheritance of imposed beliefs or "cultural carriage" which we are still carrying for how long even we don't know neither do we have courage to question it.

    How much open can you be depends on the level of your belief in the cultural carriage.

    If you observe deep down, it is not a freedom acheived, it's a gifted eye-opener opportunity.

    I, on a personal front, think that the last 60 years have been the greatest of the periods in the 4000 years old history of the sub- continent. The kind of emancipation that has resulted due the british governance donot see a parallel in the world's history throghout.

    Development is there, it's pace may be slow but it should never be at a pace more than that we can digest.

    We have to be one first unfortunateley, at present we have many first's resulting in confusion and ignorance of focus. the result is in front of everyone to see.

  2. It's not that the fault lies in the system but we are not ready to accept that the fault is within.
    we keep on blaming each other, anger on self getting out on others. saving our own skin pushing the others. This all we do as if, we are the purest, cleanest, bestest of the best. unique n unmatching.

    When it took 4000 years for just forced realisation for need to change, we must be ready for another century for changing the mindset for effecting change.

    We might not like the period but God can't we become.