We get the government we deserve – and our characteristic apathy and reluctance to get involved with governance is one of the reasons why our elected and non-elected representatives do such as poor job. Episode 3 of Season 2, Satyamev Jayate examined exactly this problem of our society.
The show began with a little anecdote told by host Aamir Khan, that highlighted an oft forgotten fact of our polity – the fact that our elected representatives and the bureaucracy is here to serve us. It reminds us that we are not the subjects of a kingdom; rather than public servants are just that: servants of the public at large.
Taxes – No, No, No
We may think that we don’t pay taxes but the fact is that we all pay tax – we are introduced to the concept of Indirect Taxes. Many of us may pay income tax directly to the government but we all, bar none, pay taxes. This is the reason that so many of us think that it isn’t our money that is involved in scams and frauds involving public money. The show touches upon an important point: this is our money that is being mishandled, misappropriated, misplaced… a wealth of funds that is not within the control or the reach of the people.
The rich country-poor people paradox
How is it that so many people are poor in our country – given the wealth of natural resources we have! The brazen theft of natural resources by private companies and others in collusion with them means that a few, a select and corrupt few are making money from public resources was highlighted in this show.
The revelations regarding the Bellary Coal Scam by Justice Santosh Hegde who appeared on the show were shocking – as many as three Chief Ministers were implicated in this scam alone. It is truly dismaying to think that only a fraction of scams actually come to light – Justice Hegde’s own experiences caused him to reach out to the younger people as the only hope – he confessed that his own generation is beyond redemption. This may be a such a very depressing thought; but at least we are now talking about it, acknowledging it. Surely this is the first step to change?
Rays of hope – Social Experiments that have Worked
The triggering events behind the RTI (Right to Information Act) are touched upon- this gives us hope. Nikhil Dey and Shakar Singh, founder members of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan appeared on the show – it was an animated conversation that highlighted an epic struggle. We the people now are able to reap the fruits of this very struggle.
Nikhil Dey and Shakar Singh also spoke about what they call RTI Part 2 – a law that will look at the resolution of complaints against public servants who fail to do their duty. This entertaining chat is so heartening – it reminds us of the many people who are fighting the good fight. They are doing this for all of us – Shouldn’t we all join in this? Don’t we have a duty to do so?
The Social Audit programme of Andhra Pradesh is spoken of by Sowmya Kidambi – this is another successful experiment that has checked corruption in public services. Political and administrative will has made this possible in Andhra – by contrast in Rajasthan such social audit raised protests from many areas. Kidambi spoke a terrible, terrible truth – people are snatching from those who have nothing!
T. R. Raghunandan spoke about another problem – the fact that our village government organisations are not receiving sufficient monetary empowerment or are not vested with requisite authority. Another problem is the fact village representatives look upon themselves as the ruler and the villagers as the ruled.
Why are we searching for a Messiah
Shailesh Gandhi came on the show and held a rather uncomfortable mirror up to our society. We as a people are very happy to point fingers at the political and administrative classes – but ultimately we are very lazy. We are not willing to do what it takes to make a change; we don’t want to make the slightest effort to do a thing ourselves. We’re searching for a messiah – whereas the fault lies in all of us.
People say that nothing we do or say will make a difference – but is that any excuse for our inaction, our laziness, our indifference? I so agree with Shailesh Gandhi – it is not!
Sanjay Sahni’s story is salutary – the sort of difference he was able to bring about – cannot you and I make such a difference too; given that we have access to better education, resources and know-how?
Aruna Roy’s message is worth listening to. She says we don’t need to be pessimistic. She recalled the three traits exalted by Gandhiji – struggle, service and creation, and feels that the youth will certainly find in themselves one or more of these.
Do we want to bring about change? You and I can make a difference. It’s no use cursing the government or anyone else if you and I are not willing to go the distance and make at least some effort.
The first small step you can I can take is to join in the fight to demand accountability and transparency with the help of local governance, social audits and RTI. More information is available at the Satyamev Jayate website or by calling 1800 103 2301. Meanwhile listen to this funny but thought provoking song: who indeed is the madaari and who is the jamoora….
By – Reena Daruwalla