We admire better hygiene and better traffic discipline abroad, but would breach the same back home.
(Read the passage given below)
We admire better hygiene and better traffic discipline abroad, but would breach the same back home. We condemn our system for churning out unemployed youth, but don’t like working hard to acquire knowledge. Students demanded their right to cheat in an examination; it is the same set of discards that later become a burden as they fail to acquire a skill for gainful employment. Rights are forcefully demanded, but duties generally detested.
As citizens of a functioning democracy, we welcome populist policies and government bounties. The State is expected to provide free electricity, free Wi-fi, free water, free books, free housing, free transport, free health facilities, free education. This will not raise much cavil if they are provided to the deserving sections of society. The problem arises when undeserving elements try to corner these benefits through devious means. The benefits that are provided by the government are seldom used in a responsible manner. Water and electricity are wasted, public utilities vandalised. We want the State’s delivery mechanism to be prompt and efficient, but we seldom reciprocate. We forget that it is the people who make the country and not the other way round. We resent nepotism and favouritism in government service delivery, but would not mind peddling influence to seek undue favours.
The plan to develop smart cities would turn out to be still-born if we don’t have smart citizens who would be willing to make sacrifices for a dignified living. We under-report our income and underpay our taxes, but we resent the government’s plea on inadequate resources to provide for basic amenities. Digging the road for a private purpose, piling building materials on thoroughfares, tapping of the sources of water or electricity is a common sight; but the same people will complain of congested roads, contaminated water or load-shedding without realising that it is their selfish actions which are affecting the quality of public services. There are enough laws and rules, but enforcement is seldom effective. While you pay a hefty $ 1000 fine for littering in a developed country or for a traffic violation, in India you can get away without penalty through various desi jugad (influence-peddling).
Sometimes, the systemic imperfections impede the enforcement of the rule of law as the law-abiding citizens do not always get their rightful dues. Today, hundreds of thousands of applications for a fire licence or a building plan are allegedly pending in government offices for years, unless you pass on the speed money to those in the gravy train. Many services in the government are rightly being outsourced on account of the inability to deliver in a timely, transparent and efficient manner. Similarly, many other critical services with substantive time and cost overruns, such as clearing a building plan or sanctioning a statutory licence should also be outsourced. Information technology needs to be suitably harnessed for most of these services. E-governance is definitely the way to the future. As a country we shall continue to grovel in the dust until the citizens are aware of their responsibilities. One only hopes that we shall soon wake up by acting as responsible citizens of a great nation.