Should this not be fixed?

Election time in some parts of the country and this is the time for flurry of activity (election campaigns) and inactivity (due to code of conduct). Lot of public grievances which are long pending, are suddenly resolved with lightning speed. One wonders if it was possible now, why wasn’t it possible all along. But then it seems ministers cannot function if there is no absolute majority. I wonder why it needs absolute majority to do basic development. Is it that all the ministers will lineup and give "shram daan" and only then things will work?

The main promise one hears during elections is “vote us in and we will provide good roads and power and water”. However if I recall my Civics 101 correctly, government’s basic functions are building roads, providing power, providing drinking water, providing good infrastructure etc. and that’s what we pay taxes for every year. So shouldn’t at the time of elections we should ask the candidates of what else they will do which is really aligned to growth and prosperity of common man, of the city, of the state and of the country? There is so much that needs to be done and can be done, if our ministers have the will, and if we, the electorate demand for. A few thoughts:

Adarsh Scam, 2G, CWG, illegal land mining, we all know are tips of iceberg. Most of them just go un-noticed. In some cases where people are caught, nothing much happens. They seemingly get special treatment in jails and come out reasonable quickly. It takes a crusader like Anna Hazare to stand up and fight against the corruption in India and we rally around once, twice, but by the time it is third time, our support starts to dwindle. Reconciliation with fate sets in. It is possibly unintentional and accidental, but there is a seeming belief that the campaign is today no longer against corruption, but more against a political party. Should this not be fixed?

The not so well connected spend little more time in jail and the least fortunate, the common man ends up spending lot more time in jail than would have even if was convicted for said crimes. Overall there are seemingly upwards of 4 million cases pending in different courts across India. The terrorist act on 26/11/2008 and the sole terrorist caught is still living on hard earned tax payer’s money. To top it there are people who feel there was an unfair trial. About 18 clemency pleas are pending with President of India with no immediate final answer in site. Should this not be fixed?

Times office was vandalized recently where it was reported that only property was damaged. Home minister states that the case will be handled by a fast track case. Just 3 days back a bus driver went on rampage in the streets of Pune killing 8 people, injuring more than 30 with similar number of vehicles damaged. Some people even gave statement that they had seen the driver laughing while he was on his death run. Surprisingly there is no such statement about fast justice and the only thing we hear is about mental instability and the person is sent for checkup. Should this not be fixed?

We have all heard of news related to ministers and self-proclaimed moral brigade who become active during Valentine’s Day, who decide which film we should watch or which we should not, which book is good for us and which not, but they are ok to watch porn in assembly, i.e. akin to watching porn in your office. They say they did nothing wrong and the parent party isn’t going to expel them. In this internet and social age, does it makes sense for a ministry to have tight control on what’s telecast and a censor board to control what movies should people watch? Should this not be fixed?

There is so much vote politics that right things just don’t happen. The prices for all general commodities have gone up in recent past. We have also seen frequent increases in petrol prices so much that they have doubled in the last 3 years. However if you look at Railways, they haven’t increased ticket prices significantly in the last few years (I could not find specific trends data). However instead of doing this ministry has found another novel way to make more money: allow booking 4 months in advance. Isn’t this an easy way to make on the in
terest? It will only allow agents to hoard tickets for longer. In today’s fast paced world, how many of us are really able to plan trips 4 months in advance and really stick to it? The other day when trying to book a ticket, I checked different trains and different options like 1A, 2A and 3A and to my surprise most of them were showing WL1. How come every train was at WL1? Isn’t that fishy? Should this not be fixed?

On similar lines is the caste based politics. It is completely agreeable that those with not sufficient means should get additional support, but then are we really providing the right support? Is providing reservations the right answer? Shouldn’t we be looking at meritocracy and plan to provide right means for this section of people to make them compete at the right level? However if the current approach is the right one, can someone file an RTI and find out how many of our leaders got treated by a doctor from reserved category? How many of our leaders go to government hospitals themselves v/s how many go to private hospitals? Reservation is fine to boot strap and fill in immediate gaps, but after a while things need to go deeper and address the root cause and not provide superficial solutions. Should this not be fixed?

India is a dominant player in software exports with around 50% market share of global outsourcing market with revenue of about $60 billion. The market leadership may not always remain as China is fast catching up. If we look internally, even when having world’s top brands like TCS, Infosys and Cognizant based out of India, the indigenous usage of IT services still has lot to be desired. eGovernance is barely noticeable. The much talked about UID/Aadhar scheme is also plagued with issues. Should this not be fixed?

Every time I visit north India in summers, the only thing noticeable is lack of power supply. Power cuts extending up to 14-15 hr. is daily norm. and this is power crisis seen in many big cities, and if this is the state is so called metro cities, what would be the condition in tier 2-tier 3 cities? People manage to survive somehow by using inverters as well as generators. People are generating power at home with the subsidized diesel. Close to 300 million people don’t have access to power. Many years back there was news that government would help bring down the cost of CFLs, but till date nothing really has happened. There are options of renewable energy usage in terms of solar or wind energy. However the ROI on these still makes them difficult for common man to use them at home (except for solar water heater). If you watch National Geographic or Discovery channels, they have programs showing mega factories or extreme engineering and how people out there are breaking existing paradigms of construction and making new construction more green, more environment friendly at the same time breaking new records like that of tallest sky scrapers. I happened to visit a mega township project called Life republic near Hinjewadi, Pune and was surprised to find no plans of any green innovation in that project. Shouldn’t such mega projects be forced to invest in green innovation? Should this not be fixed?

Tourism helps boosts Country’s image and also helps bring in foreign exchange. In today’s world people have started to get past a country’s boundaries and started to travel abroad frequently. No wonder there are plethora of travel vendors all over India. But are we doing enough to attract tourists to India? A typical ‘family’ travel to European, American or Australian destinations costs around $ 4500 (give or take a few hundred dollars). Interestingly the Maharaja Express from India Railways costs upwards of $6500 "per person". If that's not exorbitant, then what is? One of the best books tourists use to get information for almost any place is the lonely planet series. Surprisingly I haven’t found a similar equivalent book of Indian origin for India. Should this not be fixed?

Lack of good roads and regular traffic jams, lack of power with no significant plans for the future, lack of proper education, lack of primary medical care, lack of appropriate police force… there is no end of what’s lacking. Are we spending in the right places? I had good fortune to talk to one of India’s top shooters and was surprised to know the almost negligible support the players get from the government. Most medal winners are like miracle stories and have won on their own sheer determination. Only aspect the committees and chairperson of such bodies are worried about is their own tenure and not about what they during this tenure. Should this not be fixed?

The big media houses also many times end up appearing more fighting to the first one to telecast some news rather than the fact that they just need to bring the news to common man. Lot of news today is driven by its newness. As time passes by, people tend to forget and media pushes such stories to some small paragraph to some internal page in the paper. Would it not make sense for media industry to collaborate and create a portal which captures most significant news items and court cases and provide regular updates?

As I keep digging into newspaper I am surprised with how little good is there to talk about. I am sure there are good things happening. In a country this big, there are tons of innovations happening. But they don’t seem to make headlines. Even if they do, the people behind them disappear quickly. We seem to be a funny country. Here soldiers sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the country and get country’s highest bravery awards but their windows have to run from pillar to post to get their due. Here people cannot tolerate Authors or Movie Makers or people slapping their leaders or even harmless couples celebrating Valentine’s day, but are OK when someone like Kasab kills many in cold blood waging war against country and then sits in special protection cell incurring expenses running into crores coming from tax payer’s hard earned money. It will probably take a country wide awakening and movement to put things right.

I could go on and on, but that’s not the point. The point simply is that “we deserve” more than good roads and continuous water and power and it is time “we fixed it”.


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