On the eve of the 65th Indian Independence day Celebrations, I am wondering whether we as a nation know exactly what we want and aspire for. Rajdeep Sardesai, the editor of CNN IBN has written a editorial where he urges to look for the positives rather than the negatives of the nation ( http://t.co/5gA8Ruu ). Anna Hazare has threatened to once again embark on a “fast unto death” to implement a version of the Lok Pal bill bill which he and his followers believe is in the best interests of the nation. The government is paralyzed by scams and opposition parties’ inability to engage in dialog without dysfunctional behavior in parliament and elsewhere. The common man who is earning some or any money is soon losing his identity in the consumerism blitz and the one who doesn’t earn continues to die of poverty and hunger. The scientific community is yet to define its place in a global knowledge society and the economic machinery still does not favor or promote entrepreneurship. The media vacillates between self righteous indignation to outrageous sensationalism while our sporting and cultural fabric plunges to new lows after glimpses of promise every now and then.
The above is not a diatribe against the nation that includes me but a commentary on a meaningless, meandering national fervor without a sense of purpose and achievement. This is when someone calls for a positive uplift to the mood and perspective of the nation, one tends to retreat into greater cynicism. Be that as it may, there is a solution. One at a time, as a nation, for each one of us, as individuals, citizens, professionals and whatever else we would like to label ourselves as; here is an opportunity to once again dig deep into our consciousness and collectively raise the bar of our thinking and actions. Ask ourselves the question from the context of Mahatma Gandhi, what he wanted of an Independent India? We have the opportunity to weave the fabric of this nation, just as he did on his charka, individually one yard at a time.
I ask Anna Hazare not from the arrogance of a “Know ALL” but a humble student who wants to “Learn” what is his vision for a corruption free India. It is still not clear to me.
- Does he want to create a legislation that will send politicians and other people in public life to jail for having enacted the corrupt deed or does he want a public polity that is free of corruption in its very process itself?
- Are we as a nation only going to be regulated by laws and legislation or is there hope that we can evolve to being better human beings and do the right thing every time we are presented with a choice?
- Do we want to trace the process from budget to expenditure?
- Do we want to understand the process of planning, execution and outcomes for welfare and growth of our society?
- Do we want evidence of how our learning and growth as a nation is contributing to its global standing?
- Do we want talent in this country to contribute in every sphere with a sense of belonging to the nation?
- Do we want legal compliance and statutory obligations from every citizen and entity being carried out without the need to extort and police?
- Do we want to track how every day every citizen is witnessing an “Improved Quality of Living”?
Would it be better to ask this UPA or any other government to implement processes and display information in real time as a Balance Score Card where the every citizen will know how his tax rupee is spent? Can we create Processes and Systems that respond to providing us real time information on a seamless interface between Citizen and Government as partners in progress? After all, it is the citizens who elect their representatives to the government? Can we stop focusing on antiquated ways of governing ourselves with policies and regulations that are accessible and interpreted by a few to the larger disadvantage of a common mass? Can we mandate our government to create the necessary governance in the context of processes that treat citizens as customers for their outcomes?
In a world where information is traded freely, we still have people creating blocks. Such blocks cannot be removed by legislations and laws. This is what the history of the past century teaches us. When laws and legislations are created, there are ingenious brains who come up with ways and means of circumventing them. I am not suggesting that we should not have laws and legislations. Those must be for the exceptions. As a society, we must be ruled by a sense of belonging. How many of us steal from our own house? Or vandalize it? Or rape the people we love and care for? The point is, laws and legislation is for deviant behavior. So what aids the one who is not deviant?
I would like to believe that the spirit of Independence is a free will that exercises its obligations with diligence and authority with restraint. I yearn for a respectful living that contributes to the growth of the self and the society in equal measure. I am sure each one of you does the same too.