Monday, December 1, 2008

Will we change ?

What happened in Mumbai was a horrible tragedy . What is worse that it could have been avoided .

Many lost their lives in the 3 days . Families lost their loved ones . Many more have sustained injuries . The scars – physical and psychological will take a long time to heal .

This tragedy is a reminder of how interconnected the world is – whether we choose to acknowledge it or not . We bear the fruit of our action and inaction .This is a wake up call for us as individuals and collectively as citizens of Mumbai and India . Until we understand the lessons and demonstrate that understanding in our actions the lessons will come back repeatedly .

The anger , outrage , sorrow in Mumbai (and in various parts of India) today is palpable . There is a real risk of a lot of it manifesting as well intentioned , passionate gestures rather than lasting change . In the various attacks on Mumbai in the past few years many have died an untimely , brutal death . The course of many more lives have been altered as a consequence . Lasting change – as individuals and citizens - is the only real respect we can pay to them . Anything else would be a token gesture .

The ‘response’ needs to be larger than just a ‘reaction’ to this tragedy . This attack is not a standalone problem . It is a symptom of a deeper anomaly .As they say in Ayurveda – you can’t treat a part without treating the whole . The response requires us to step out of the narrow boundary of our individual lives to look at the broader world and to participate in it with our time , effort , money , compassion and patience .

A few thoughts on possible (necessary ) actions . This is by no means an exhaustive list . It is at best a starting point .

Even without this horrific event it was clear that we need to make this a more equitable planet than it currently is . If each person takes on the initiative to do improve the life of even one person we can in a matter of years make enormous progress in creating a more equitable , fairer world .

The outrage against the politicians and government agencies is completely justified . At the same time we must face the mirror and acknowledge our role and responsibility for the situation . We elected these people , never really demanded transparency , performance or accountability . We always thought ‘oh I’m one person ‘ or ‘what can we do ‘ ? We are the substrate that allowed the cancer to develop .

We need to actively , constructively, consistently demand accountability from all our government entities – the MLAs , MPs , Municipal Corporations , Ministries. (We have to pursue our elected representatives with the firmness and resolve with which we expect them to root out the terrorist groups in Pakistan responsible for the attacks on India ) .
How can we do this ? Set up websites , blogs . Figure out the elected representatives from one’s area . Organize as a group to dialogue with them, understand what are they doing , why are they supporting or voting against specific proposals in the Parliament , what are the projects in-pipeline , timelines ? Different groups will be able to impact on different issues and to varying degrees . The important thing is to recognize that we are not powerless ( as individuals or as groups ) and to operate from that faith .

In any action we take (no matter how small or large ) to make our individual contribution to a changed world the key is sustaining it over a period of time. One year from now and in the years beyond when the immediacy of this has receded into the background will we still be demonstrating changed behavior and actions ?

If not , then let’s leave the politicians alone . They would be no different from the citizens who elected them .


Arvind said...

My dear Savitha,

What you say makes a lot of sense to me. I hope that we wake up as citizens and take charge to steer ourselves into a safe future.


Arvind Kaul

anand said...

want 2say so much.. maybe i will start with longefellow's poem that has been ringing in my head since 25nov. then keep adding in the days to come. i am glad u wrote. i am glad u took a stand for all those well meaning, caring, sensible people of our nation- described by our patience, tolerance, longsuffering, kindness, warmth, understanding and luv. how long is the question? how do we still be what and who we are, and yet turn this around:

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

anand said...

read your blog again. it is precise, focusses on key issues, does provide actionables..

to build on from where u left, both in terms of breadth and depth of discussion, wud bring about thoughts that can generate possibilities that we otherwise might not consider..

your ayurveda example, calls for a closer look at the why's of terrorism.. it cud be both overt and covert terrorism.. this year we saw it in mumbai more often than elsewhere.. be it the overt handiwork of Goonda Raj or the covert recent attacks last week.. the cost in all these cases were borne by the hapless common citizen who for no real fault largely paid the price..

globally the divide is clear.. there is no doubt at all..not one bit..

be it indonesia, east timor and achec, serbia, bosnia, iran, iraq, minotities in china, US, UK, france, denmark,India etc..

the earlier we acknowledge that in our polar choice we have turned violent in our approach towards each other, the earlier we cud take actions to stop this carnage and move forward to lasting vibrant peace..from both sides we are so very right and hence the other is wrong.. being different is wrong..practising a particular path is wrong..eating a kind of food is wrong.. dressing a particular way is wrong..and all wrong needs to be attacked, hounded, exterminated..wiped out from the face of the earth..the polar sides surely know the one and only way to heaven and all other ways are that of the evil one condemned to eternal damnation..

how come then that in this same insane world of hatred there is switzerland, right in the geographical centre of battle, was neither part of world war I or II and was not even part of the UN till a few years back? how come this country has evolved itself into a peaceful society of active and vibrant coexistence..

lets remember polarity is not a problem to be solved but poles to be is not an 'either' 'or' world but an 'and' world.

thru this blog can we dialogue?? can we bring oneness in thought, word and deed?? can we??

Anonymous said...

That is indeed a good one. A simple record of what your MLA did - including activites in Parliament, in constituency, projects initiated, projects completed, funds disbursed...Nice scorecard.



Well said.

Anonymous said...

do people resist change? yes yes yes is wat we hear.. research however shows dat we dont resist change but we do resist the losses n endings due other words we welcome the gains and beginnings due 2change..

we will blow up our economy spending our hard earned money on wasteful deterrants, instead it wud be lot better if we work on active responsible peace..