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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pledging to maintain Cleanliness

The mission to make India a clean place is indeed a noble one. And the 2nd of October, being the birthday of the Mahatma was ideal for rolling it out this year.

While it shall definitely take some time for cleanliness in public places to attain desirable levels, it is of essence that the tremendous impact cleanliness has in creating a good environment should find root in the psyche of the citizens. The earlier it actually happens, the better it would be for the nation. 

Yet the fact that this mission is piloted by the Prime Minister himself gives solace that at-least some progress would definitely be achieved. The resoluteness with which issues are being handled by the present government gives confidence that in a couple of years, the nation would indeed be a much cleaner place with rhetoric having been relegated to the back seat at present.

A clean environment is at the root of almost everything including human happiness. It enhances productivity, creates a good living environment and enhances satisfaction and happiness levels. The Mahatma realized it almost a century ago when he called the cleaners “harijan” ie men of god. He also equated cleanliness with godliness.

Yet the nation remained dirty, the marketplaces, the roads, tourist sites, railway stations and the bus depots, almost all still bear the stamp of an unclean place. Even temples of worship have generally failed to maintain a semblance of cleanliness and that foxes me. How even tiny Asian countries are able to maintain cleanliness in their public places and private and why we have been a miserable failure on this important front?

Has it something to do with our culture and if so, why the same indian who litters on home soil displays perfect behavior even in matters of keeping his surroundings clean when not on the home soil. Perhaps more than culture, it is about conditioning and fear and also about pride. I clearly remember the seventies when the Kolkata metro emerged, the same “bhadralok” who considered defiling his city as his birthright, maintained impeccable cleanliness at metro stations even to the extent of admonishing one who littered within the confines of swanky metro territory. A difference made in a span of a few steps only. Perhaps this shows that a clean nation is indeed possible.

But not without a firm resolve. With my better half taking good (and clean) care of the home territory, I have pledged to ensure that the office space occupied by me and my team is always maintained in a state of pristine cleanliness. I am also inspired by the the clean india campaign of indiantopblogs (http://www.indiantopblogs.com/2014/10/diwali-and-clean-india.html) and am contributing my wee bit to their effort.

And the genuine national effort this time in this direction gives me hope of being able to witness an immaculately clean and by corollary an economically strong and contented India in my lifetime. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

ethics in governance is the need of the hour

The recent arrest of a Director level officer handling allotment of coaches was shocking for the nation, but not for many of those who throng its economic lifeline. Perhaps in his own assessment, the officer was merely doing what he thought was his birth-right, having seen at close quarters what many of his elk have been seen indulging into.

Mahesh Kumar through his act of attempting to buy his place into a seat of power and money achieved infamy as an icon of corruption. At that time many thought that the organization has seen its nadir and that the government would have no option other than stepping in to stem the rot. Unfortunately all such hopes were dashed when the sordid saga continued unabated with blatant and brazen acts of corruption being witnessed daily. In fact with time they picked up speed and those who were bracketed in the honest variety quietly slipped into the shadows.   

And the sordid acts continued – the side lining of a very senior and fine officer for the top job and his subsequent harassment, blatant dispensing of favours to contractors for consideration, making the office meet household requirements and gross abysmal conduct of those in high place. On the other  hand we also witnessed many being moved from the confines of their cozy homes to becoming jailbirds, notable being the case of two officers working in the censor board and IRCTC.

And then the toilet thing happened where a senior officer was shunted merely because he played the role of a custodian and refused to succumb to demands that smacked of gross unethical conduct.   

Even while the officer community was reeling under the shock of these expose, the coaching scandal burst on the scene with almost a vengeance. It appeared as if some were trying to outwit the other in looting the organization that gives us our daily bread.

The organization bleeds incessantly and the corrupt revel.

But should they be allowed to? Is it not the time for all those who have the interest of the organization uppermost in their mind to come forward and save it from the clutches of the corrupt? Is it not the time for the honest minority to say “this far and no further” and then act accordingly? Shouldn't the national interest take overriding priority over everything else, even at the cost of harm to oneself that may occur in the process?

The answer is “Yes”. The silent minority of the honest and the right minded should not allow itself to be swept away by the torrent of the corrupt and self-seekers.  

For the first time in the history of the nation we have a Prime Minister who is brutally honest and also extremely intense about his intent to pull the nation out of the abyss that it finds itself in. All of us have to be on his side, not merely seen to be so but by battling corruption and sloth in whatever territory we find ourselves to be. That indeed shall be the best homage to the land of the Mahatma.   

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Heed the voice of conscience!

The incessant babble – of voices imploring one to act or not to act is often maddening and at times dangerous, if one indeed acts on them. This babble is often so overbearing that lesser mortals which  most of us are, find it difficult to set aside.

We Indians are great at advising others, while at the same time often guilty of inaction ourselves. And therefore we have all these cases of blatant corruption, loot and rapes in glaring public view. People watch and walk away, wishing that someone else would pick up the straw and yet later grumble about the sorry state of affairs in the society, a society that is rapidly going bereft of men with spine.

We look the other way when the powerful custodians have their hands in the till. We continue to look the other way even after our Prime Minister, the greatest that this nation has ever had, exhorts us to rise above the “Mera Kya Mujhe Kya” syndrome. The top guy realizes, yet we do not, that a thief is hurting us irrespective of the ownership of the cauldron he is busy emptying. It is our nation and also our railways after all.

Often in life one encounters situations when a bigger general good is tipped against a petty personal gain or loss and unfortunately the latter tips the scale. Personal discomfort or comfort takes overriding priority over the need to be on the path of righteousness and the general good. Giants become pygmies on such occasions.

The very fact that organization and nation building does not come cheap needs to be grouted firmly and straight, in the inner recesses of our mind. The thought that good shall always remain good and shall always be the right thing to do even at the pinnacle of “Kalyug” needs to settle firmly in the collective psyche of the nation. Will it ever be so I wonder, yet the thought that now we have a true leader at the helm gives solace.

While we are all separate bodies with different likes, tastes, preferences, attitudes and actions, the fact remains that at the sub-conscious level, we are all one having emerged from the one single root of energy in the universe. Our conscience is therefore our best guide at such moments in life when the voice of reason starts wavering in the face of petty personal gains or losses. Brutal suppression of the voice of conscience that invariably emerges whenever there is a subconscious battle between good and evil is definitely not in order. Gautam Buddha the great, advocated looking within as the best means to lead a life, yet in the land he spent most of his life in, we have moved away from our souls towards materialism that really does not matter in the short or the long run.

Spiritualism needs to be at the core of all our actions and activities if the glory of this great nation or the great organization is to be restored. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tigers and Foxes in bureaucratic jungles!

It is not as if the jungles are bereft of tigers – met one in a bhawan today and another a couple of weeks earlier. It is just that in a "no watering hole" jungle full of sheep, monkeys, foxes and coconut trees, tigers have become a rare commodity, are therefore rarely visible and have apparently ceded territory to the wily foxes out of frustration. And such jungles therefore do not gel and make many wonder about authenticity and also whether it is real or just a make believe.

And the sheep, apparently simple and spineless creatures who can be lured by anyone in any direction throng the jungle in the hope that the wily fox in a rare display of compassion would throw some crumbs that they would be equally fast to grab. The sheep in the hope of crumbs are always eager to dump their fellow brethren at the altar of the wily fox at the slightest opportunity.  Unfortunately many of the sheep are actually hypnotized tigers who have forgotten their strength under the influence of the fox that is busy milking the jungle dry.

And the monkeys true to their nature always present a continuous display of jumping from one tree to the other and from one branch to the other mainly to create a ruckus and convey an impression of vibrancy in an otherwise dead environment.  

And the coconut trees, unable to provide even a semblance of shade to the weary complete the incompleteness of the jungle. The stark absence of watering holes completes the saga.  

And the jungle therefore fails to produce anything beyond what the nature automatically does. 

What a jungle – not even a remote cousin of Kanha or Bandhavgarh. In Bandhavgarh it is almost impossible to miss a tiger and in the jungles of Delhi – one bumps only into foxes or their all-pervading smell and influence unless of course one is lucky like I have been today to have bumped into a bubbly tiger raring to romp.  

A single tiger controls a jungle, provide he realizes his lineage. And if he does not then the fox shall rule – the most wily of them shall be the most vicious. The few tigers left in the jungle have to rise and put the jungle in order. They have to emerge from the wilderness and show the foxes their rightful place. Yes they can only if they decide to……..  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The anatomy of corruption

The recent case of harassment of a director level officer by an officer of secretary level simply because the junior played the role of a custodian of government property to the hilt, indicates the level to which ethics in public life have nose-dived. Yet the essential difference that I have witnessed in this case as compared to scenarios two or maybe three decades earlier is in the highly elevated level of brazenness of the corrupt. “Chori and Seenajori” has indeed become the order of the day. It is also true that there has been a sharp decline in the morals and ethics of the society at large leading to a scenario where the service of the government has degenerated to service of the self. Any young entrant to services would easily testify to this ground reality.

The last ten years have set new milestones in the national race for amassing ill-gotten wealth and the servants of the governments have been generally leading the race. The veracity of this statement can be checked by interacting with any sector of the sarkar, strictly as a common citizen. Invariably every single of such interactions is laced with graft.

Yet the new dispensation at the centre gives hope. But it warrants critical appreciation that raising ethical levels of over a billion citizens would be far more complex and difficult than merely injecting a stiff dose of integrity amongst the few million of those who misgovern, often for personal gains. Beginning with the tantra therefore seems the most sensible and logical course to follow.

Total absence of a nationalistic fervour has been the hallmark of the indian society, except for the period when independence from the british was being actively sought. This has led to a scenario where personal good has assumed overriding priority over the general good without realizing the pitfalls of such a thought process.

And within the Sarkar, the inability of individuals at large to be able to make a meaningful difference leads to scant self-respect and therefore the spate of efforts at other means of self-gratification that merely give material comfort. And the failure to realize that a material high is far lower than a spiritual high is not exactly a direct fault of such individuals. Perhaps over the years our efforts at nation building have fallen far short of the requirements and therefore the distortions in the social mind set.

The complexity of the tantra that acts as a convenient shroud for the corrupt enabling him to almost never getting caught is also at fault. Yet the recent indictment and jail of senior politicians for abetment of corrupt practices gives hope that perhaps we are moving in the right direction.

Our inability to differentiate between what is ours and what is not is indeed sad and this is at the root cause of incidences akin to what resulted in the recent harassment. Our rank inability whether mistaken or on purpose to play the role of custodians and also our penchant to regard the service of the self, much above that of the nation provides the foundation for such actions.

Yet one single individual can change the direction or the fortunes of the nation and all its citizens. That is what leadership is all about and perhaps we are witnessing that rare moment in the history of the nation when that single individual has arrived on the national scene.

In god and providence we trust and in our hearts a burning desire to see a really clean nation.