November 30, 2008
I have been following various debates on television as also the thread of thoughts on various blogs.I have had the occasion to serve as the civilian area commander representing the NGO space during the communal riots as also during the blasts. I was mainly working in the Dharavi Behrampada area.I have also been on the spot during various natural disasters at various locations across india.
i beg to differ from the tirade against politicians; i believe we as citizens cannot escape from our apathy and indifference to events beyond our individual peripheries.If we do not help douse the fire at our neighbours, our house will soon catch fire.For me, politicians are not a black box, they are an intrinsic part of a corrupt and non-integral society. We are getting the politicians and leaders we deserve, they are mere reflections and emergences from ourselves.
I have seen corporate leaders and so called intelligentsia from really close quarters and they are no different.While in the thick of operations at Dharavi, I have been pulled out for a cocktail launch of an NGO formed by some prominent citizens which thankfully does not exist today.I have seen the political establishment used by businessmen for narrow objectives of protecting their own establishments. Their presence at various citizen's chapters was just to expand their networks for fulfilment of personal agendas.Like our politicians these people never exposed themselves to line of fire - they came in hordes for photo-ops later.More efforts of the volunteers on the field went towards provision of safe water for our distinguished visitors.
Who are we fooling? is this rhetoric any different from those of our politicians? I hold no brief for the politicians but would like to re-iterate that they are mere scape goats for an epidemic situation in society.Individually and collectively, we have become immune and indifferent.For me, we are really no different from the militant we are fighting.Under a different set of circumstances he may have been an efficient general manager of the very hotel he chose to destroy.
Please spare us the "holier than thou" platitudes.Even today, we are incapable of feeling for those who perished - it is hogwash; we are only reacting from the fear that has surfaced through events in our doorsteps.For me, we are no different- each time i see a prominent adworld chief being touted as a citizen's representative, I feel like puking for i have had the occasion to see him at extremely close quarters. for me, he is a terrorist in mind- he would not carry a gun in his hands but he spouts venom with his every action and the elaborate masks he wears.Rather than derive our energies from our blame games, let us awaken to the death within each of us where we are indifferent to the needs of our immediate neighbour while we cry hoarse about remote events.
We live in a world of plastic smiles and hollow gestures. We have become incapable of feeling, living in a projection of who we would like to be, far removed from who we are deep down.And the further tragedy is, we are unconscious of it.
We can wake up people who are asleep but what do we do with people who are pretending to be asleep and doing a damn good good job of their performance, cloaking it in platitudes. We are escaping our responsibility and responsibility is not about merely casting a ballot.We have taken so much from this city and this country - how many of us pay heed to feeling gratitude for the same and returning something to it.We abuse its facilities for our own benefit in the same way we use our parents and peers.
Let us look beyond ourselves and strive to be just human.
In the words of a President of a country where a lot of our peers are chosing to spend their lives after acquiring their basic skills here, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country...." Whether we be politicians, business men, media personnel or any other, we can never really give back to our country what it has provided and given us. We are no different from those we blame..They are mirror images of us...let us collectively rise to the challenge..