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Sunday, 4 May 2014

One Half of the Question

As a part of a country, we all expect certain rights and comforts of being its citizens, security, clean water; unending flow of electricity, laws …and the list goes on. Yet, we do not always receive what we deserve and we can rightly blame the government for being to corrupt; too embedded in its own self-interest. We, however, often forget our end of the bargain. As citizens, although we have rights, we also have duties so the question isn’t just ‘what my country can do for me, it is – ‘What my country can do for me and what I can do for my country’.

The biggest concern in the world right now is the lack of clean, fresh and drinkable water and, we expect our country to provide it to us. We, here in India force the government to clean the Yamuna, the Ganges…all the polluted rivers of India. Then, when the government fails, we denounce it. The question is why was the river so polluted in the first place? As citizens of the country, our duty is to keep the water sources clean and to not waste it if it is available. That is what we can do for our country; this is what I can do for my country which is essential for it to provide me with clean water.

The other day, a certain radio show featured a segment wherein the radio jockey called up the electricity company to ask him why there was such a shortage if electricity in our country. The call was made to make the employee feel uncomfortable about the thousands of people who sit in forty-five degrees of temperature without electricity. Provision of electricity is what my country can do for me. However, has anyone paused to think that maybe if collectively, we were not all guilty of wasting electricity, there probably would not have been a shortage anyway. Switching off lights and fans is a must in the duties of what I can do for my country- also one of the easiest duties which so many of us simply forget to do.

The government of each country emphasizes on welfare- related goals and growth and development of a country. Free or subsidized education and healthcare is a provision made by most countries, Indian being one if them. We all must feel that this is what my country can do for me especially if I am less fortunate. Yet, we do not realise that availing those facilities not only benefits us but, also the country as a whole. You must be wondering how? It is quite simple really; free education till the age of fourteen means more children will be educate themselves which will enable them to look for better jobs and earn better. This has multiple positive effects - two prominent ones being: first, the crime rate of the country will fall because people may not need to sustain themselves through these crimes anymore; secondly, through basic economics one has learn that a better educated population propels the country forward towards economic and social growth. In short, we will have better living standards.

Similarly, free health checkups allows more people to afford to get themselves checked which could translate into early detection of contagious diseases making the environment and people around the patient safer as well as a quicker start to counter the effects of the disease and medicate it. You see how simple things you and I can do for this country can make this country better as a whole?

At one point in time, being in the army and police was prestigious and highly respected. Nowadays, also because of the falling number of wars, and growing perceived inefficiencies of the police is causing a drop in their membership. Personally, I feel that it is wrong to demean such courage. The army and police make it easy for us to fall asleep every night and not have to watch our backs every waking moment.

Do it for your country, if not by enrolling in it, respect the professions because they deserve it. Just like it is the duty of army or police officials to protect a civilian in danger; it is our duty to assist them in their attempts to make this country a safer place. It’s small things that make a big difference.

Last but not the least; the problem that we as citizens are increasingly encountering is corruption. Corruption is like pollination. It spreads just as one seed spreads to a different location. Slowly and steadily, it has seeped into our system and like vines it, now, has a tenacious grip on the legal framework. Most people rally to the country to get rid of it but, the key to its removal lie in our hands- yours and mine.

Firstly, we must definitely vote. In a popular report, findings say that 46.8% of the population in the cities doesn't vote. Why? Unless you make a thorough case for yourself and vote for who you think is a better party, how will the country progress?

Secondly, corruption did not start at such a high level. No, it started small with you and I bribing the police officer when we skip the red-light; with you and I fixing the outcome of cricket matches to win our wagers; with you and I accepting the bribery from officials to vote for them in the parliament. This and got to stop and that we what we can must do for our country.

Today, I have talked about only a few things from a huge list of duties that you and I have forgotten to fulfill. It is a two way street and we must not solely ask ourselves ‘what my country can do for me’ but also, ‘what I can do for my country’. All this whining and complaining is less effective than just getting up and doing something about it.