It’s always better to hit the bed with an uncluttered mind. It’s been a long day today and I’m really feeling tired. I would’ve liked to sit with my feet in a tub of warm water , but I’m feeling too lazy now and not up to the effort. And I’ll also have to quit thinking of the watermelon I left behind in the shani bazaar.
I should be happily tired today because I was with the children at school for most of the day and we had a really wonderful time having one final rehearsal of all the items that they have prepared for a small cultural event tomorrow. Their enthusiasm is usually very infectious, but while one part of my mind was rejoicing at their efforts , another part was constantly asking me, are you participating in the process of offering them dreams on a platter?
I had accompanied some of the older children , last evening to Jantar Mantar, the venue where Anna Hazare had been sitting on a fast for urging the Government to get on with the Lok Pal Bill. These kids are actually at the bottom-most receiving end of corruption, of everything that is wrong with our systems. They are hit by it more than anyone else. They were aware of it and they wanted to be there. I wanted to be there myself and see for myself if all that was being reported about it becoming a mass movement of sorts, was actually true.
The place was packed and it was the younger generation who were the most visible. There was something very energising about the thronging crowds. We came back home in high spirits, the little ones and me. ..them alive with hopes that is innate to their young hearts….me hoping that their hopes wouldn’t die , because I couldn’t bear that thought.
I had come back late last evening and had switched on the TV to surf channels and listen to all what different people had to say . In between I was net browsing reading up bits and pieces about the Anna Hazare event. It seemed to have struck a chord in so many people .
Of course there was a lot of talk about a group of social activists trying to give the democratic process a go by…they were saying .that since the Government is an elected body, it should be they whose business this should be and so on. I’ve been a part of the beaurocracy for twenty five years, that part of the Government which is as much or may be sometimes, even more responsible for the inefficient way things are handled. This is just a small anecdote , so to speak , but I was once handling a file on which the issue of increasing the rates of patrolling allowance to Gangmen on the Railways was being discussed …they belong to the lower rungs of the huge hierarchy of employees. The increase in amount that was being discussed was a mere ten or fifteen rupees per month and the file was shoved on to a merry go round between the directorates, the finance guys putting in a stoke every time it went to them , citing huge financial implications because the number of gangmen ran into thousands. Yes it would’ve cost some lakhs. But these guys had to patrol the tracks each night for a length of 20 kms or so. If something escaped their notice and an accident happened , they would lose their jobs. I remember arguing with my boss that the amount that was being proposed wouldn’t even buy them a packet of beedi and we were having problems even with that. “Tum toh Mother Teresa ban rahi ho” , is what he said. I still get riled when I think of that remark.
I’m digressing. What I was getting at is that it seemed to me that the Lok Pal Bill could become an effective tool for a check on the flaws in Government functioning. The existing checks were as good as not being there…its like this, the Government commits an irregularity and the Government takes it up , gets a lot many notings done on a lot many files, which goes up and down and here and there within the Ministries and then eventually gets shelved.
That apart , I did admire Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare. The right to Information Act has been a huge step forward. At least it had opened up the routes for accessing information available with the Government . If you step into a Government Office , you would know that many a clerk would refuse to give you even a copy of a circular ( which by its very description denotes a communication that is meant for circulation to all concerned) and would make you run around many times before he may deign to pull out a copy from the dusty stack lying somewhere in the section. That Kejriwal stuck on with his campaign and facilitated the enactment of the RTI bill was cause enough to respect him . Anna Hazare has also been equally undaunted by all the hurdles in his mission against corruption. I was quite happy that they had come together to take up this cause.
What really made me high was the verve with which the youth were aligning themselves to the duo. Kiran Bedi was also one gutsy woman , although some would hold that she was a bit of a publicity seeker. I’m kind of indifferent about Swami Agnivesh …don’t know too much about him to take a stand and Swami Ramdev ..I kind of dislike . he comes across as a fake to me.
But most of my euphoria has now vanished because many are now cynically pointing out that this is not going to last and that apathy and indifference will cast its shroud over civil society again. It’s not the loopholes in the process of getting the Lokpal Bill that is worrying . Those surely could be discussed and sorted out if public involvement as was seen now, is sustained. No..that is not what is worrying me..My discomfort which has been gnawing me since last night is the conclusion of many of my friends that as it was ..it always will be…..that human nature cannot but be an expression of greed and dishonesty for most of the time.
I’ve always wanted to believe differently. ..that the human nature has both the capacity to be noble and ignoble and that we can make a conscious choice. I believe that the goodness lying inside us can be invoked . I wanted to believe that the very fact that so many people expressed solidarity with this cause was because they could hear the gentle whisperings from the depths of their hearts. Some things still choke me up…people fighting over religious beliefs , people being intentionally cruel…but most of all when I am given to understand that we are irredeemable…for that takes away the ground beneath my feet .
So here’s what I choose to believe because I want to have a good night’s sleep . I think people who are cynical are actually the ones who really want what they think is true of human nature , to be otherwise . They have had brushes with too many of the wrong people and have to come to believe that they are representative of the majority. I’ve been lucky to have come across many, many wonderful human beings and I choose to believe that the goodness in their nature is more predominant in the cosmic whole. So I’ll continue to live with love and hope. Good night all you wonderful friends. Thanks for being there.