Sunday, June 14, 2009

People governance

The racist/mugging incidents in Australia have been done to death as an issue by now. I would not like to pass any remarks on the same sitting here in India at my keyboard. That would be too foolish. But there are some things that I want to comment about purely on a personal level. Personal as in if I were a student in Australia what would I expect if such an incident happened to me. I would of course expect the cops to take action, but most importantly I would expect support and diligent follow up of the case by the Indian High Commission staffers. I am told by some cousins of mine studying there that foreign students studying in Australia have their embassies at their beck and call for any problems that might arise during their stay. While the Indian High Commission as well as the Indian Embassies elsewhere are notorious for their absolute apathy towards their people. I am told they function more or less like Government offices renewing Passports, stamping Visas and giving foreign postings to government officials who have greased the right palms, besides some diplomatic overtures of course.

While it is easy to sit here and advice a change and petition the government to make our embassies more citizen friendly, what is needed is a deeper change in attitude by our government itself. For example, the new Tourism Minister put off her visit to Australia presumably due to the current situation there. A government communiqué however made it clear that it was her personal stand and that the government would have appreciated it if she had gone to Australia for the Tourism promotion scheme. While it is understandable that the government is keen to promote tourism and bring in the much needed dollar, it is also imperative that it shows compassion and empathy for its people there along with the eagerness for revenue generation. After all it was elected by the people to look after their well being and not mere revenue generation! Economic governance and people governance cannot be divorced. It has been for a long time in our country which is why our students are going abroad for higher studies and jobs. Which is why our embassies are cold mausoleums and why those Indian students bore up the attacks silently all these years. They have long stopped expecting anything from the government. Aren’t they in Australia because of the same?

The hundreds of failed Garibi Hatao movements are testament to this fact that we have governance without compassion. Rolling our official programmes will not help much if you do not understand the pinch of hunger or the humiliations of constantly living hand to mouth. What we need now is not only a government that can govern well but one that understand the more intimate problems of its people. Like crossing a busy road, getting a license, support when abroad, a seat for your not so brilliant son/daughter or personal safety to name a few. Right now our administrators are cold machinery's distant from the people. They only bother about getting the government institutions running and rules and laws enforced. What they do not realize is that these institutions and rules and laws apply to people and should be people friendly. Cold official governance as opposed to governing with humanness, the right mix has to be achieved for overall and better impact.

And when the government gets it right we will have our public servants falling over themselves to be of service to you. :) Maybe that was being too Utopian. But a visit to a government office is enough to understand how compassionate your government is towards you!


Rex said...

When we allegedly gained 'independence' in 1947, we just traded the gora sahibs for the brown babus. The whole government setup and attitude is only one of rule over the people- not as an entity elected BY the people. Look at the security and power accorded to various bureaucrats and politicians- they literally act like royalty.
Add to that the rule that no one can be fired for incompetence, and you have the perfect setup for utter apathy for the people whom they are supposedly elected/appointed to serve.

silverine said...

Rex: You made a lot of sense and helped me put things in perspective. Now I see where the ruler attitude comes from!


the best thing bout independent is --- we can change things , how we cna be a part of that same system and not do what they did ....easier said than done , as power is addictive

really well written as usual .........

scorpiogenius said...

Its in many ways unfair how this ' racist' issue was blown out of proportion. We've already talked about it but its an absolute truth whats written here about the so-called High commission and embassies. They are a touch better than the govt offices back home. thats all.

You may remember what happened in Maldives or somewhere where an Indian Embassy official addressed his own countrymen as ' dirty Indians;'... Donno which smiley to use here, but that sums it up all.

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Interesting point that, on the embassies. Didn't know.

As rex has mentioned, without accountability there won't be efficacy.

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

I feel that the issue of people of Indian origin getting beaten up when they go to another country for work or for studies isn't something the government should take notice of. The students went their on their own wish and so they should've thought of this when they went. When such kind of incidents happen in our own country, only that here its in the name of caste, region or sex. Whatever happened in Mumbai or whole of North India towards southies or in any govt agency/organisation is proof of this. Maybe this doesn't come into the limelight because here the poor guys go and do the studies or work.

When some rich man's kid goes to some foreign country and gets mugged it somehow becomes an issue of national importance.

Same happens about bomb blasts, when some IT hub like B'lore or Hyd or commercial capital like Mumbai is attacked there's a huge hue and cry and the govt takes quick action. But not a single person cares if there's a blast in Guwahati or Jammu or Kolhapur.

I think we don't have the right to question the aussies when we're ourselves in such a mess!

silverine said...

PD: Like Rex mentioned we did nothing much after Independence except trade in rulers!

Scorpiogenius: That Maldivian officials statement just about sums up the attitude of our govt officials towards the common people.

Kathik: See the movie "Saraansh" if you can!

Abhi: I have several cousins studying there...on student loans. Their parents are ordinary folks. So are majority of the people there I am told. Even the rich need compassion. Right now no class gets it in our country. So the rich buy it, the middle class try to make up the lack by working their butts off and the poor are happy with whatever is thrown at them before elections. If we had compassionate governance then there would be none of the problems you mentioned.

Sreejith said...

I've seen many muggings too, but almost always they were the result of antagonizing the local population. Students - Indians or Chinese or whoever - sometimes just forget their etiquette as temporary immigrants, and in some cases as these, the whole community is made to pay the price..

My observation on many Indian embassies around the world is that they feel a need to be overly subservient to the local government - in the process failing to protect even basic travelling rights!!

silverine said...

Sreejith: Thats exactly what I have heard. I think our students studying abroad should be sensitized to local culture and customs.

Adarsh A. Varghese said...

Hey - ring any bells? Blogging after a loooooong time!