Kayem blogs at Never Mind Yaar and writes on a variety of issues pertaining to our society and its strengths and weaknesses. She is an NRI living in New Zealand, with a heart that beats for India and her people. In her own words, ‘affirming and celebrating the ordinary, mainstream, middle class Indians alongside stories of extreme poverty, male chauvinism and superstition help to give a more fully rounded picture of India as it really is.’ She has published a book ‘Never Mind Yaar’.
In this guest post, she talks about why any new idea should be given a hearing with all its pros and cons being discussed before relegating it to the dustbin as being unfeasible. Read on…
The recently concluded Stayfree: Time to Change competition created quite a buzz on Indiblogger. What fascinated me were the many issues, according to the authors of the 370 plus posts entered for the competition that needed urgent attention in India.
Each post was a unique perspective on some serious issue like bribery and corruption, poverty, lack of infrastructure, the condition of our roads, the traffic congestion and fumes, an environment (soil, water and the air we breathe) that is polluted to danger levels and is ruining our lungs and the very blood that courses through our veins, illiteracy, child beggars, prostitution, slums in our cities, poorly enforced laws, education, women treated as second class citizens, lack of sports facilities, poor sanitation, poor civic sense malnutrition, illness. And there was one that spoke eloquently about the behaviour of youth with air hostesses on an Indian airplane.
I would say many of those posts are worth a visit. What’s very uplifting is that altruism is definitely alive, well and kicking in India. People are as generous and concerned as ever. Now we just have to figure out how to channel that desire to throw out the ugliness and neglect and bring in something that will prove to be long term and effective.
One of the posts suggested that we be given the option to deal with our government online. “Let us even pay our fines online”, said the blogger (Not his exact words. If I can find his post again from the randomly sorted 300+ entries, I’ll gladly put up the link). “If we do, who would have the guts to demand or give a bribe? Both the “giver and taker” would have a lot of explaining to do as the CBI would definitely want to know why a thousand extra rupees were deposited instead of the exact fine amount.”
Sounds good on paper. Except, when someone who is cynical and suspicious of everything the government does or someone else who might be technologically challenged thinks to themselves – Why do they want me to pay online? I know, they’ll get access to my bank account and then steal all my funds. I will never pay them online. I’d rather go and pay cash.
So we’re back to square one. A very worthy plan – to cut down on, if not eliminate, bribery – relegated to the dustbin before it’s even had a chance to take off. Why? Because there’s no buy-in from the ultimate user — the public.
There are some in the government who would resist this change too. Who, having made a tidy sum by accepting bribes, would like that ‘ability’ compromised? No siree! So they encourage the cynical, suspicious and technologically challenged nay-sayers by providing more fodder for their suspicions. “Let us scare these people so much that they are the ones who object and say ‘No’. We’d still come out smelling of roses. We’d still have the opportunity to continue taking bribes.”
This post isn’t about putting a damper on the idea of dealing with the government online. Far from it. It is to look at this very worthy idea from various perspectives. Individuals with various professional, social and technical backgrounds may have different perspectives too. The idea is to get as many people as possible to put forward their angle so that as many doubts as possible are cleared well before the ‘online’ plan is implemented. In fact, I would suggest, go one step further. Encourage the nay-sayers to speak up and reassure them that their doubts, whatever they are, would be considered very seriously.
That is the only way an idea, any idea, gains credibility.
If we project only the pros and hide away the cons, there would be no buy in from the ones we try to convert to our idea, in this case, dealing with the government online. The end users would think of the minuses in their minds anyway and have no reassurance or answers to those negatives, doubts and question marks. Once their doubts are cleared they’d embrace the idea with enthusiasm as who, except the beneficiaries of bribery, wouldn’t like the chance to be rid of this curse in India.
Regarding dealing with the government online, I am sure there are many pros, cons and questions in any individual’s mind. We stop ourselves from speaking up and clearing our doubts for many reasons, the main one being, I’ll look stupid.
One word of caution here – there has to be a reasonable time limit for any discussion as otherwise the debate would rage on forever and nothing would get done.
In conclusion, arguments for and against a particular issue are a great feasibility exercise and should be welcomed with open arms. The more we have these debates within specified time frames, the more we actively encourage end users to give their views, the more their potential doubts are cleared before we implement our idea, the better our chances of success.
Image Courtesy: onsecurities.com