Realist, by definition, is a person who sees things as they really are, rather than what he/she perceives them to be. An existence of realism in the real world is however, a debatable topic. And we as a nation would know. Every year, the system rolls out schemes and policies for the benefit of the country and its people. Coincidentally…NOT, every year the people of India have new topics to crib about. The year 2016 was particularly the year that gave us a lot to think (read: crib) and consider before materializing any concept in form of movements for our nation.
The year began with the odd-even scheme in the capital, which gathered quite a positive response in the first season in January, but lost its mettle in the second season in April. The mission of this scheme was to reduce pollution levels in the city and solve the traffic problem especially during rush hours. While the intent was good, the implementation of it was rather weak. As a realist, I believe that there are few things that were to be considered. Amidst the rose sticks and plastered smiles on streets, one thing Mr. CM forgot was the ability of our citizens to find hacks. In the second season, Mr. CM announced that this might become a permanent rule at the end of the month. This prompted people with a deep pocket to spill a few shillings and buy a second-hand vehicle of the alternative number. What was supposed to contain the traffic congestion, in turn increased the number of vehicles on road, also adding to the emission. Also, in order to achieve the desired result, one should’ve first approach the industries. According to a study by IIT-Kanpur, two of the 20 industries that primarily contribute to the SO2 level in the city are located in Rajghat and Badarpur. These two major industries contribute about 98% of suspended SO2 and nitrates. Maybe it’s our CM’s undying love for roads that led him to ignore regularisation of industries, and focus on the dharna hotspot.Nevertheless, it didn’t work, because it was made for the people but not by them.
The Crunch of Cleanliness
If you haven’t already, the next time you pay taxes in a restaurant (and oh, eat too), check your bill for the Swachh Bharat Tax. Although it’s a meek 0.5% of the total, with the population of India, this sums up to a pretty large amount (about ₹3800 Cr. in its first year). Why do we pay that? To finance and promote the Swachh Bharat initiative launched by the central government on 2nd October, 2014 that envisions a cleaner, greener country. The philosophy behind the campaign is beautiful but more than two years later, it is nothing more than a term that finds its share in every taxable service. The mission that marked the first grand campaign of the freshly elected government is seldom talked about. The furore has fizzled out and bhakts are left behind to clean the remnants (pun intended). 65% of our country’s population is the youth and the better approach would’ve been to talk to them, and keep the conversation alive. Lofty agendas and ambitious promises are nothing without a substantial action to support it; many of us have had our hearts broken to understand that. And effective communication is the best approach in both the cases.
Demon in the Nation?
One of the hottest topics of discussion for our news channels today is demonetization. What started off as a bold step to curb corruption is now losing its effervescence about one and a half months later. Although it is a campaign that demonstrates our people’s belief in the system for the longest time, the other side of this coin in now turning up. Esteemed banks of India are partaking in turning blank money pink. That’s a lot of colours for a mission as pure as white. The good news is some are getting caught; the bad news is many are not. One might argue that the government started preparing the nation a year ago with Jan Dhan accounts, but firstly, a year is not enough to prepare the whole nation for a digital revolution, secondly, a lot of services should have been upgraded to contain the shockwave. For a country where feature phones take more than 50% market share, offline payment through USSD was rolled out a little too late. For about a year, the country should have been educated about USSD technology and online payment and transactions, for starters. The functioning of ATM machines all over the country should’ve been regulated and stocks of new currency should’ve been in place before the declaration. And most importantly, corruption at the roots of the regulatory authorities should have been taken care of first.
Rumble on the Coast
The month of December proved to be the worst of the year for Chennai. While the nation was reeling with the after-effects of the demonetization drive, the unthinkable happened in Chennai. The beloved Amma of Tamil Nadu succumbed to a cardiac arrest and passed away on 5th December, 2016. A week later, while the city was still coping with the void, a predictable disaster – the Vardah Cyclone – rumbled the city. Almost every year, a cyclone hits the city during this time and despite issued warnings, every year people die. I won’t say that the authorities do nothing, but what they do is not enough. Yes the conditions are much better than last year, but still lives were lost and a lot needs to be done.
I believe that our leaders do seek the best for the country and most of the time, I agree with their concepts and philosophies that can direct the country to the path of real development. What I don’t agree with however, is the approach adopted by them. Our country is diverse, and different communities have different constructs that shape their culture. An approach that takes this beautiful cultural diversification, the ground realities of our society, the shortcomings of our people in various segments influenced by a variety of factors and the strength of our country as a united nation, into consideration will be an approach that will win my vote and hopefully of a majority.