5 Mar 2009

Upon each shoulder lies the weight!

It can't be shirked, it can't be swayed..

Before reading this post, please read the previous, 'Aren't you just one of them?' because this is just an extension to what I 'penned' last time.
There was a reason why I asked you to introspect. The day I wrote this poem, I was having a discussion with a cousin. The topic was a common one; the falling standards of Indian polity and administration. On a fault-finding spree, he kept rattling one example after the other, all the time cursing the netas and the babus. Once he was done or rather when I was done(listening), I just asked him some simple questions. These (and some others) are the ones which I included in my poem later in the day.
Its very convenient for us to find scapegoats. Our polity and administration are the easiest ones, for the simple reason that they have hand in everything and that they deserve the backlash for anything going wrong. Just see how even I've turned critical. Its true that as citizens, we have the right to demand sincerity from our elected representatives and their executives. However, we should not forget that our polity and administration is just a reflection of our society and 'we' are the society.
When the 'Mumbai carnage' happened, we all were up against the polity. We were frustrated, we were agitated and we wanted accountability. The 'system' again failed us. Those who had been sent to represent us, again let us down.
We want tighter security. We want all the pores to be sealed but are we ready for it. Remember the last time you visited a multiplex and were frisked at the gate With time running out for the movie, how you asked the guard, "C'mon bhaiya! Do I look like a terrorist to you?" This is the very attitude of 'chalta hai' that we see so often in our bureaucracy. So you see from where it comes.
This may sound cliche, but who is being corrupt when on breaking a traffic rule, you prefer giving 50 bucks to the traffic hawaldar than accepting your mistake, letting him cut your challan and paying the due amount to the concerned authority.
I realize how easy it is for us to approach turpitude from virtuousness than the other way round. In New Delhi, where I stayed for half an year or so, I had to travel daily in the metro. Initially, I was in a habit of offering my seat to the aged and the ladies standing in the aisle. However, as time passed and I saw the depravity of my fellow passengers, I started hesitating in doing so. Though, I still had the courtesy to stand up for say, a pregnant lady or a frail looking elderly; but for each time doing so, I had to run a program in my mind to assess if the person fulfilled all the criteria to be showered with my chivalry. So from being a 'good boy', I became 'not so good boy'.
We have to learn to hold on to our virtues to ask others to do so. Here, I remember a story, one of my teacher in primary school told us. I am not sure if its true or not but definitely its quite effective. It goes something like this.
Once a person brought his son to Mahatma Gandhi and complained that he eats a lot of sugar. However, as he has a lot of regard for Mahatma, he might start resisting his temptation if Mahatma asks him to do so. However, Gandhiji asked them to come back after a couple of days. Even the next time they were returned to come back later. On the next visit, Gandhiji apologized to the person saying that he can't fulfill his simple wish as he himself has a sweet tooth. All these days he had been trying to resist but failed. So he has no moral right to ask the young one to do so.
So do we have the right to ask for accountability from our elected representatives? Yes, we do have the constitutional and legal right. However, we lose our moral right to do so by a fraction, every time we indulge in depravity and corruption. My questionnaire in the previous post must have helped you to gauge where you stand in this respect.
'Slumdog millionaire' might have disturbed us by showcasing our dirt and filth but remember we all have made a 'worthy' contribution in keeping our cities unclean. So only Government cannot be blamed for not providing enough safai-karamcharis, we all have to take the blame for it.
So next time you throw an empty wrapper out of the car window, you are also throwing a fraction of your moral right out with it. I have thrown out such fractions so many times that I've lost the count.
Moreover, now with the elections just round the corner, if you decide not to visit the polling booth, then you'll also be foregoing a big chunk of your constitutional and legal right.
So rather than being this monkey pointing fingers at others, it's better to be wholesome in ourselves. An effort can be made for sure.
These parting lines might strike a chord or two.

Upon each shoulder lies the weight!
It can’t be shirked, it can’t be swayed.
You’ll try that someone else falls prey,
For yourself, you'll search an easy way.
Today you might shut your eyes and say,
“Hey, let’s keep it for some other day!”
But how long will you keep it at bay?
For upon each shoulder lies the weight!
Those who realize it well in time,
Won't lose a penny or a single dime.
They’ll do it while others pretend and mime.
With shoulders feeling light and sublime,
They’ll hear the eternal satisfaction chime.
Don’t bother that next line doesn’t rhyme ;)
For upon each shoulder lies the weight!

Image Courtesy

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