Two news items from Goa have caught my attention. One shows how corrupt our leaders and society has become while other shows hope. Interestingly I see a pattern in this.
The first video is of Goa assembly debate where opposition M.L.A. Mr. Damu Naik claims that the P.W.D. minister Mr. Churchill Alemao has distributed free water tanks to people at government’s cost without any approval from finance department or cabinet approval, leave aside the issue of whether a scheme is formulated for the purpose. Now for a naive mind it would seem that if Mr. Alemao has certainly done such a thing it is equivalent (or rather is) a scandal for which he needs to be punished.
The question of whether Mr. Alemao actually did it does not require discussion because both Mr. Alemao and the Chief minister himself agree that it is the case. Chief minister however brushes aside the demand for a probe because he claims “Mr. Alemao’s intention was good”.
Please see this video
Ideally chief minister should have taken a serious note of Mr. Alemao’s misdeeds but here he defends Mr. Alemao. The conclusion one can make here is that Mr. Alemao is more powerful than the Chief minister and chief minister will never act against Mr. Alemao in his sane mind. That also explains why Mr. Digamber Kamat manages to stay in office. He is weak and he loves his chair. Which means people like Alemao can get away with whatever they want to do.
In a more developed society people would have got outraged and would demand Alemao’s resignation but here I am sure many will now try to get one free water tank for themselves.
The second news if of people of curchorem. It is a taluka in Goa infamous for the mining activities. Ore carrying truck have so far claimed many untimely deaths in the area, damage to health of citizens due to pollution is not accounted for. For many years now the people in this are have been demanding that a separate bypass road be built exclusively for the mining trucks. Read more about the issue on Prof. Sanjay Dessai’s blog.
The demand is legitimate and very easy one to grant. It is not affecting anyone’s interests in adverse way. But despite that people from Curchorem had to sit on indefinite hunger strike. In my opinion the stuff like hunger strike is more like a tantrum. One person sits for hunger strike and suddenly he gets space in news, politicians visit him and so on. In short hunger strike is not a solution but a stratagem for getting attention to the issues. Will it build the necessary willpower among the concerned people to pursue the bypass road? I doubt.
Having said that I dont think the efforts will go in vain. It will serve a larger purpose. In fact this is part of the pattern I was talking about. Gandhiji was first to highlight this.
I am not aware of all the aspects of the existing agitation in Curchorem but I do hope it is driven by people and not some political pressure group. This is important because in Mr. Shourie’s words
Second, we must never take up an issue because we think doing so will please our employer or leader, or our party or group. Nor should we take up an issue out of the politician’s disease: “We must stall the House today on fertiliser shortage. It will send a good signal to farmers.” The reason is simple: the calculations of the employer, of the leader will change; the interest of the people will shift. For us the tests should be two — both are ever so visible in Gandhiji’s campaigns. First, the issue, to use his phrase, is “an intolerable wrong.” Second, we are personally committed to undoing it. “Committed” not in the sense that we are prepared to shout slogans about it. Committed in the sense that we are prepared to shoulder the consequences of taking a stand on it.
Taking a stand is not as simple as it seems. For most of the agitations we see are driven by few people who are just to easy to be lured by personal gains. A free flat, a free car or may be even a free water tank and the agitation will disappear in thin air. Believing in a cause means what? It means we are ready give up other important things for it. That is where heroism lies. I hope the people who are agitating fall in this category. It is a must for them to succeed.
Next the most important thing
Third, Gandhiji insisted that we must pitch our demand at the minimum. In Champaran, his demand was merely that the government appoint a committee to look into the distress of the indigo cultivators. That was enough to put the British rulers into a bind. If we set up the committee, they reasoned, everyone will conclude that we cannot stand up to this little troublemaker. When, on this reasoning, they don’t set up the committee for months, the people get to see the nature of the British government in India: if they won’t even set up a committee to examine our condition, how can we believe their professions about being our concerned guardians? All that was necessary this time round was to request that an honest, open appraisal be undertaken, one that fixes responsibility for the electoral outcome. The leaders were immediately in the same dilemma: If we concede the demand, went the rationalisation, we will be seen to be weak, and everyone down the line will conclude that we can be bullied. How will the party be run once that happens? But by not agreeing to that simple request, they proved the point!
I am feeling good about the agitation of people from Curchorem because it has got this important feature. They are demanding a very simple and minimum concession. If the government doesn’t concede it, it will be clear to most of the people that government is least bothered about their life, property and welfare. Such a feeling can make the political scenarios change drastically.
I hope more and more people from Goa make such reasonable demands with the government. The highway bridges on Talapona and Galjibag river, widening of NH 17, 6th pay to professional college teachers and there are so many simple things that people can demand and government can easily concede. The only reason why government does not do it is because of their sheer incompetence and it might cause of inconvenience in their existing setup. There is no way government can rationalize why these demands can not be met. I think that should ring bell in many heads.