Friday, August 05, 2005

Call me a cynic

Have you smsed your name and 'jaag' to 8558 yet in support of the 'public interest litigation' being filed against "the govt, BMC, mtnl, railways, police etc for the blatant apathy & civic admn 2wrds our city"?

Of course you have. By Thursday night 15,000 smses had been received. By this evening it would surely have crossed the 100,000 mark.

Not that this would be any kind of record considering the numbers Indian Idol and KBC generated from Mumbai alone.

My point is - an SMS involves no pain. And as we all know - no pain, no gain. If solutions were just about smsing our outrage Mumbai would already be Shanghai...

The next step
The people who have filed the PIL are to be commended, of course. But tell me, if you were to be asked to show your support by turning up at court hearings - which may stretch on for the next 1 year - would you be as willing?

Would you take a casual leave to physically take up PIL related work?

Would you actually get involved with an NGO by donating your time and expertise? If not on a working day, on your precious weekend??

The answer to these questions, I suspect, is going to be a whispered "no".

In this city of dreams, "me" and "my work" always comes first.

And so, much as I am amused by Mahesh Bhatt's endless quest for soundbytes and self-publicity - if that's the psychic earning he's getting which motivates him to spend his time on initiating a PIL - we need to applaud his effort.

If there is a lawyer willing to take up this work for free, we must applaud that effort.

And, in our own small way, we must try and make some kind of physical effort.

For example, in 'normal' times, we must prevail upon our local corporators to do their jobs. It may involve 'wasting' time, dealing with red tape etc. But it has to be done... And not just by grey haired senior citizens.

Otherwise we will remain armchair (with mobile in hand) critics. And having vent our anger by 'thumb support' to the cause, get on with life as usual. Until the next time.

And yes, all of the above applies to me - as much as anyone of you reading this!


  1. Your cynicism is not out-of-place. I'm underconfident of the end result too. I could not more support the initiative, but you know nothing comes off it, normally. I had a chance to read the Majlis publication, Of Lofty Claims and Muffled Voices, of their experiences fighting for the minority community women post-Godhra. One of my colleagues, a lawyer, was in the team who went there. End of it all, some people chickened out (agreed, this is an unduly harsh phrase), but even those who tried to take it couldn't go far. So, SMS I will, but not sure what impact it can make. If it does, glad I will be.

    Bombay, zara bhi nahin tumko khauff-e-ruswaayi,
    Ke court mein chale ho case chalaane ko

    Can we really fight the Government?

    Having said all of above, I do agree when people say that in India we don't protest enough. Let's do it, I mean SMS.

  2. Applaud the celebrities if they are trying to do a good job. This apathy of ours to interact with these elected local representatives encourages them to shrink their responsibilities. Worse, look at Govinda, who has been absent from his constituency for the last 7 crucial days. We can't even recall such irresponsible leaders.

  3. Interesting point you make Rashmi - I dont think we indians will ever shake of that "I, Me, Myself" mentality

  4. SMS can make a difference if it is officially used as a means to evaluate performance of the government and officials.We should start having regular feedbacks during the five year term of a government through SMS and these should officially be taken into consideration during declaring the results of the elections.

  5. I guess shedding that Me - My work needs two things. The notion of making a sensible choice between leisure and better future and some teeth gritting for the consequences if they think their might consume more time and effort than they actually think it would. That I think is where leaders differ from commoners. Easier said than done.

  6. This attitude is something which is typical of Indians and does not help in fighting not only against the government but also results in India having probably the worst consumer rights record as well. How many people would boycott a hospital which deliberately tells ppl to get unnecessary tests done just becos the hospital can make money? How many people have the guts to protest against colleges bundling their services together and forcing people to mandatorily pay for things like mess and bus whereas the only service people need is the classes and the tests?

  7. Yeah... After this round of brouhaha, we Mumbaites would be fighting for what we fight daily for.. catching the 8:37 local, parking space, a breath of fresh air..

  8. Rashmi

    You have a great tool with which you can make a difference. It's called JAM. through your columns you can publicise good work, exhort your readers to join in the efforts of those in the field, etc. I know very few will actually spend the time, but it's like direct marketing. You have to reach out to tens of thousands get a few hundred who'd work for the cause.

    My organisation, Praja Foundation, works in the area of improving accountability and transparency in local government and we find it a tough task to get the corporators / BMC to listen to us sometimes. Sustained public pressure does make a difference though.

  9. sms-i think lot of them would not have done even this.i think last time our country united was during the freedom struggle.i am based in chennai-otherwise i would have met you. i think rashmi you have the fire in you and if you are serious you can really get a few people together who can represent mumbaikars vows-in all aspects.had i been in mumbai now(i have lived there for 20 years). i would have joined you in this movement-cheers-great

  10. I never thought youth magazines were worth my pennies but if JAM has articles like these... my opinion stands changed.

    I would say that getting people to send SMS on a PIL is quite something for I know many (forming majority of people I know) who would rather spend a buck forwarding message or casting vote for Pepsi war between Sachin and SRK, rather than SMS-signing a PIL. Most of them won't even know what is a PIL and if such a signing system exists because they are two busy hogging at Pizza Hut, buying Adidas or watching MTV... the extravaganza of youth today involves only these activities (and I confess I am not very different). It is because of this opinion that I did not care about youth magazines, for I thought they feed crapy fads and in-style sh**.

  11. Good to read this here Rashmi!

    We need to be sensitive towards what we need as a society, then as a nation then as humanity. It could also be the in the reverse order. when we are sensitive enough we do things.

  12. Is "Me, myself and My Work" so bad a feeling to have? I don't think so...Why does every-one have to take up the cudgel in the old communist sense...We dont need a revolution every minute...Problems are there in every societies...the more you solve, the more will emerge...
    Dont even send the SMS..

  13. In the US the community takes the place of the family. Parents unfit,?there is the social service and foster care, disabled ? there are benefits. Wanting and fighting for a caring community is not communist, its democratic and humanist. A society that does not care breeds anti socials, who prey on the individual, your families and you. Think about it.

  14. Conducting a poll at ChutneySpears on "Which is the easiest way to get rich?

  15. I think unless we understand that we are a part of the problem, we cannot be a part of the solution.

    and I agree that it is easier to crib and rant about the lithargy of the India etc etc... but hardly do we do anything about it....

  16. What else can you expect


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