Yes, we can

The three words that defined the outcome of probably the most memorable US presidential election, “Yes, we can” now seem to have caught the imagination of the Indians. Who would have thought that a long-delayed en masse protest against corruption in India was going to be led by a septuagenarian? In a country where  youth comprises 65% of the population, it had to be an elderly Gandhian who had the guts to rise and fight against the plague that has taken root deep inside the fabric of the Indian society. There have been a number of protests sparked by the unnecessary detention of Anna Hazare on August 16. Ordinary Indians seem to have suddenly awakened to fight against the menace of corruption. But I have one simple question. Assuming the Jan Lokpal bill gets through and Anna Hazare’s wins his fight (both of which seem improbable considering the current status), what next? What about the garbage on our streets; unnecessary traffic jams caused by a single bad driver; the street lights that burn until afternoon due to the incompetence of a single person who is too lazy to switch it off; the sewage that spills onto the streets; and the puddles formed on the middle of roads during the rains? Or the person who spits on the road unmindful of where it actually lands? Or the groups of people who consider themselves too important to wait at a railway crossing and walk nonchalantly under the barricades? These are also deep-rooted plagues that have enveloped Indian society. So who is going to be the next Anna Hazare to lead us into another wave of protests for better roads? Of course, we prefer to wait for a leader rather than becoming one. We discuss the need for a thousand more Anna Hazares to change India but do we really take a moment out to consider that, maybe, by waiting for the signal to change green (unmindful of the barking horns of the other vehicles) and not spitting on every piece of available land, we are actually an Anna Hazare in the making? Or by not littering the roads with plastic water bottles and old bus tickets, we are making this world a little better? I strongly disagree that all these are “habits” of Indians and they cannot “change.” If an Indian, born and brought up in India, and living in the US has the sense to follow traffic rules and not litter the streets, why can’t the same happen in India? Just because enforcement of rules in India is lax does not mean this chaos should continue. How about not blaming the government for a change (not that I support the present government!) and being a responsible citizen, paying our taxes, following the rules, and resisting the urge to jump the traffic signal? Our national motto maybe “Sathyameva jayathe” but actually it is “Sab chaltha hai,” and it is time that changed. And if not now, then when?

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