Last week as we were signing off the year, I flipped through TV channels as they were celebrating the best of 2010; growth, development, bridges, buildings, roads – we have arrived in style. Looking at the consumers, jewellery and apparel stores overflowing, we seem to have recovered from that mild interruption called recession. Still, what will be remembered in 2010 is not our recovery story, growth story or the development story, but the foul-smelling, pus-oozing wound that has slowly but surely become cancerous by now.
Why isn’t the nation standing up, roaring, agitating or protesting? Are we waiting for the opposition, which did nothing about any of the long-standing scams (read Bofors, the gun with a long neck and even longer scam) when it was in office, or the CBI – a body on which no citizen has any faith left- to do something?
If I am a passport-holding, taxpaying citizen of this great nation, why am I not doing anything about the hundred thousand million being transferred to offshore accounts in some nameless country, or even about the 200 that the RTO asks for? What am I waiting for? A New Year? Another Subhash Chandra Bose? Do I believe that it is left to some brave person written about in newspapers, an economics graduate without a job, a Che Guevara sympathizer, or someone who runs an NGO to stand up and rally?
Register a complaint, raise a protest – then what? Who has the time to run from police station to court to whichever large, dirty, pan strained government building they will make me go to, just because I chose to open my eyes for a second amidst the all-pervasive, overpowering corruption?
Or is it my subconscious attitude? What difference does this make to me, having a plush, fat-paying job, the comfortable chauffeur-driven car, weekend restaurants and movies, international holidays, branded/designer wear, alluring malls, plastic cards to take care of my shopping binges. I have all of them, a house, an apartment, a car, a middle-class-on-my-way-to-upper-class success story. So what difference does this make to me? Am I so comfortable in my small world that I’m scared of upsetting the apple cart?
Am I scared that all these comforts will slip by? Do I feel less pain? Has my pain dulled with the comforts of the air-conditioning? Am I far away from the truth or is it just that I do not know what to do or how to go about it or how to fight it? Is it that I feel like a speck in the furious, unstoppable revolving wheel – turned, tossed and thrown; insignificant, irrelevant and more importantly helpless? But we are a democracy, can I usher in change?
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
– Robert Hutchins