Why? But .... Why? I don't understand .... why not? Why should? Why can't? ..... these are not the "whys" I hear from my kids but the "whys" that I wonder about on day to day dealings that begin every time I read the paper, step out of home or even just chat with a random person.
Working on urban issues has just made these "whys" more specific in nature and has made me a find-outer! Initially I was pretty embarrassed my knowledge about civic duties and responsibilities of an individual / elected representative / establishment / service agencies / judiciary was so poor. Then told myself, it's not expected of one to remember everything one learnt in class 8 civics, felt better and continued on my journey of being a find-outer.
I'm not a professor in political science or a part of the establishment, I am just another citizen. I spent my entire life in this city and like old folks say, I've seen it change - geographically, physically, spatially, technologically, you get the drift. The city has come a long way, not because of any government but because cities also progressively evolve. I have stood in queues to fill water from tankers, to pay bills, to get wrong bills rectified, to get my bus pass attested by school, to trade in coins at a bank for some crisp notes, to register post letters, for my LL and then my DL and in the process learnt queue discipline, patience and never had to resort to speed-money. I have complained to the police as a pre teen when my dog went missing (called back when he came home a couple of days later), ran from one police station to another as a teen after an auto driver made away with my sister's suitcase, a few years later chased the cops to file a FIR after my house was ransacked and fought with the constable who asked me for tea money after walking around in circles in my just-ransacked-home and as recently as a couple of years ago, stood by my husband as he fought a case against the traffic police. I have had my fair share of the system. At every election since I could vote, I’d step out with the family and go vote, no questions asked, it was a done thing, almost like a habit and even if I jokingly asked anyone who they voted for they’d seriously say “secret ballot”. It did take me a couple of elections to understand the enormity of the responsibility on each citizen to make the government “of the citizens” function “for the citizens”.
It is difficult to motivate people into doing something they really have lost hope in. I wonder if facts will do the work? Here is an article I in Citizen Matters on the election the RIGHT MPs to the Lok Sabha 2014. Yes I am hopelessly hopeful that “my country will awake”.