THE OTHER SIDE
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann ki Baat is said to have boosted the use of radio, in this era of digital equipment, one of the small joys rarely experienced by many is that of searching for a radio station with clear reception on the good old analog radio. While moving the dial, there is a lot of static, motley sounds and some unclear radio stations till one finally comes across a station which is being received clearly. Mind you, the static doesn’t mean that the radio stations not being heard clearly are transmitting distorted stuff.
Equating this with the scenario around us, one could say that the dial is being moved at present in search of clear frequency and reception.
There is a lot of chatter and static around in the air though there are clear messages too. The Indian establishment is sending out clear messages in various spheres and this is eliciting a lot of static mainly from elements not comfortable with change in the status quo. Those habituated to indulging in luxurious complacency seldom like progressive changes since these require them to actually work and be answerable in the real sense.
Anyway, the fact is that many things are happening and bigger things are going to happen in the not too distant future- most of which cannot be mentioned yet. In the meanwhile the static of influenced criticism and proclivity of spreading fake news will also thrive. Irrespective of all this, what is slated to happen is going to happen.
Many fake idols are going to be dismantled logically and historical wrongs are going to be set right even in the face of the said static. There will obviously be varied attempts by the opponents to distort the scenario but that is part of the ‘game’. What we need to comprehend is that as former president APJ Abdul Kalam used to say, “think global, act local” is what we really need to do for a better scenario.
Focusing locally, among the worst things in Uttarakhand is the liquor business and its impact on the socio-economic status of the state and its people. On Thursday-Friday, at least half a dozen people died and some were hospitalised after consuming spurious liquor in the provisional state capital. Firstly, consuming liquor is not evil but it must be done sensibly within limits and in a decent manner.
Due to societal reasons and unintelligent governance, a sensible drinking culture has not been facilitated as the focus has remained mainly on generating revenue and gulping bribes at the cost of public health, law and order, and other factors. Take Uttarakhand for example. Liquor was brewed and consumed here since before IMFL was made but in the past, liquor abuse was not a common problem.
The authorities talk a lot about ‘drug-abuse’ but they ignore the substances causing the most damage- liquor and tobacco, because these are legal and generate revenue for the establishment. One doesn’t remember the last time a beer can or a liquor bottle was being sold at the printed MRP.
Even when an honest minister was in-charge of the Excise department, the State government failed to check overrating and bootlegging probably because the system is actually rotten.
A staff member at a liquor shop told me once about the average monthly amount the shop owner spends on ‘appeasing’ those in power either in cash or free booze so that he can do business while overcharging and other anomalies are ignored.
And, while he was saying this, a cop on duty at the nearest intersection came and after a brief conversation with the chap, left after taking a free quarter of whiskey.
To be fair, that was the only time I saw a cop being so openly corrupt at a liquor shop- he might have been an alcoholic because the others I have seen do tend to pay, at least when there are other customers around. Honestly, it may not appear fair to blame only the cops or the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians because most consumers of liquor do not question the vendor when he overcharges them on a daily basis. Some people in the establishment believe they are being smart making money by abetting corruption and causing damage to public health while most of the drinkers don’t seem to care.
The fact is that this system is damaging us and basically the establishment irrespective of the party in power is to blame for this. The ones in power know what the problem is but they seem to lack either the sense or the guts to do what is required. In the meanwhile, the senseless liquor culture continues to damage society in ways which are not even being officially acknowledged yet.
The liquor folly is not the only problem of its kind. The fundamentals are almost similar if you look at the dengue epidemic or the issues surfacing after implementation of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act.
In one line-‘Yatha Raja, Tatha Praja’. Since there is no king in a democratic system one can state that the public tends to follow the trend set by the establishment.
If those in office start enquiring about basics of dengue and related measures after more than 2,000 people are afflicted with the disease in Dehradun district alone, they are frankly not doing their job properly.
They are ignorant or complacent and so is the public. But they alone are not to blame because we as citizens have encouraged such problems with our apathy and lack of civic sense.
The same could be said about the complaints being made by some about the MV Act. It is good that violators of traffic rules are penalised heavily as part of corrective measures but it is also equally logical that public servants responsible for potholes on roads and enabling encroachments should also be penalised heavily. But instead of questioning why the public servants are not being held responsible for the violations they commit, the focus is on citizens moaning about being penalised heavily for violations they commit. Hence, the story goes on for a few days until something more inconvenient turns up. Obviously we will not wake up yet, because shortly something bigger is going to divert the attention of the sheeple.
So, going by the adage of the public being like the king, we may continue wallowing in this inconvenience which we contribute to or we could actually wake up and act.
Saturday, 21 September 2019 | Paritosh Kimothi
Author: Paritosh kimothiParitosh Kimothi is the Deputy News Editor in the Dehradun edition.
Paritosh Kimothi is the Deputy News Editor in the Dehradun edition.
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