You blame the government for…
Blaming the government for most, if not all of our problems is ‘normal’.
We, as a society and as a country, are habituated to criticise the government. And why wouldn’t we? It’s easier that way, right?
You see, we need to save our faces, and what could be more comfortable than finding fault with the governments?
When you bash the government–your MLA, the councillor, the authorities, and the bureaucracy–most people support you.
You know why?
Because just like you, they also don’t want to acknowledge their civic responsibilities.
(‘Civic responsibilities’, what’s that, some sort of bird? Never heard of it before!)
You Blame the Government. Cool. But What Makes You Believe You’re Not Guilty?
Have you ever realised that you too, have a hand in most of the problems you face in daily life?
Before you demand to exercise your right to have this and that, you need to take care of your civic responsibilities.
Roads are dirty. (Who littered – your MLA?)
Drains are chocked. (Who threw poly-bags into them?)
Drinking water doesn’t reach your home. (Who misuses and wastes water?)
Your city experiences horrible traffic jams. (Who encroached the roads?)
Yes, there have been some corrupt people in most of the governments so far. But is it fair to hold the government responsible every time you face a problem?
Is There No Hope?
Don’t forget – there are non-corrupt people too – people who work for the betterment of the country. The question is: are you, one such non-corrupt person?
Before you pick on the government, you need to check if you have taken care of your civic responsibilities.
A Real-Life Example
It was March 2010.
I was delivering personality development classes to B.Tech students at Subharti University, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. And we (the visiting faculty members) were allotted a staff room.
One day–while eating snacks–my fellow teachers littered the room.
Before leaving, I took a poly-bag and started putting in the waste. One teacher interrupted, “Sir, please don’t bother. The cleaning guy will take care of this.”
But I insisted and did what a citizen* should have done–I threw the poly-bag in the dustbin.
(* Note that I didn’t use the term ‘responsible citizen’ because if I am not responsible, then I have no right to call myself a citizen. At the most, I am a freeloader, you know, a pest).
I have the freedom to eat whatever I like as long as I clean my shit. Isn’t it unfair to expect others to take care of my mess?
So, here’s the real deal: You expect the government to clean your shit.
- You demand smooth, congestion-free roads but don’t want to give up encroachment.
- “We must have a clean city” – that’s your demand, but have you ever bothered giving up littering?
- Clean drinking water? How about changing the habit of wasting water? Why the hell do you need to wash your car with drinking water?
- You assert that you have the right to cross roads through zebra crossing. Well, that’s awesome – you’re an informed citizen. But how about caring for the pedestrians when you drive?
It’s Time For You to Realise
That both the government and you have certain limitations:
You have the power to do smaller things:
- Throwing the wrappers and waste papers in dustbins.
- Using water and electricity wisely.
- Staying in a queue while boarding or de-boarding the metro train.
On the other hand, the government has the power to do bigger things:
- Constructing flyovers and roads.
- Keeping the traffic in check.
- Implementing the rules and laws.
You can’t expect the government to play your part and the government cannot expect you to play its role.
Would it be fair to expect your MLA to throw your waste in the dustbin? No. Only you have the power to do that.
You and the government, both are equally important. The country progresses when people and the government work together towards a common goal – Development.
So next time, when you are about to criticise and declare that the government is corrupt – stop!
Ask yourself – “Have I taken care of my civic responsibilities today?”
Is it Not Your Responsibility?
I remember walking down the street with one of my cousins in 1998.
I noticed somebody left a public tap open and the water was getting wasted, so I turned that off. “It’s not your responsibility”, my cousin said.
Then what happened next was a mere coincidence. A few meters away, there was another running tap, and this time, my brother tried sarcasm, “Oh yeah, go ahead. Let’s see how many running taps you could turn off.”
You bet I did close that tap.
I replied, “Well, a public tap is the public’s responsibility, and I’ll take care of as many as I could if I had to. What would you do if you saw a running tap in your kitchen, won’t you turn it off? Then what’s the issue here? I don’t care who left the water running, if I see it, I’ll do something about it.”
And you know the irony? That fellow is working as a teacher in a government school now. I wonder if teaches the students to take care of public property, or just ‘it’s not your responsibility’ mantra.
The Greatest Responsibility of the Government
The other day, I came across a surveyor who was asking questions to a shopkeeper. And I happened to be in the shop for buying supplies.
A particular question got me interested, “What do you feel is the greatest responsibility of the government?”
I interrupted the conversation, “Does all the responsibilities belong to the governments only? Don’t you have a column in your survey sheet that asks, “What is the greatest responsibility of a citizen?”
Guess what, he didn’t have such column in the sheet, not even a single one. I requested him to pass on the suggestion to the concerned organisation to include that column for future surveyors.
My neighbourhood drains remain choked most of the times – poly bags roaming on the roads gets accumulated in the sewer. And not only that, I have seen some losers dumping plastic bags into the drains – deliberately – so they could blame the ruling party for waterlogging. I mean, are you serious?
And when the monsoon approaches, the roads get waterlogged and stink like hell. Who do you think is responsible?