I know most of you will read this post, with a few quick glances and close it. Some might even linger for a few minutes, think a while and then move on. This is for those of us who will read each word, understand the significance and realize the importance of US. You and me. The common man. The devastated Mumbaikar. Shaken and stirred.
Last week as our city and our families sat gripped in the claws of terror, you and me could do NOTHING about it. I watched the news for an agonizing 3 days with little or no news from my father inside the Trident, and maybe that's why for me, this time, Terror is Personal. It entered through my backyard, lived in my dads office and stared my family in the face. Its an experience I wouldn’t inflict on my worst enemies. Anyway, this isn’t about me. Its about US. You, me, our neighbor, his twenty year old son, Aunts uncles EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US.
Two weeks after the trauma, after 20,000 people turned up at Gateway to voice their solidarity and demand ‘Change’. We got this - Ashok Chavan CM of Maharasthra, Chaggan Bhjujbal as the deputy CM. (Allow me to remind you AGAIN that it is this man who resigned from the same post a few years ago, due to “Moral grounds” on being involved in the Multi crore Stamp Paper scam).
As our state lay orphaned, leaderless for a week, our ‘Leaders’ spent time debating which political figure would be their best bet to retain power. How about making us feel safe? As these leaders come into their position, Its clear. The change is that THERE IS NO CHANGE. We’ve gone from one crook to another. That’s the only difference.
Its time we took matters into our own hands. Its time we begin to believe that each one of us can make a difference. To take our responsibilities as a ‘citizen’ seriously. Someone needs to protect us, Lets start with being our own eyes and ears.
VOTE - It’s the least we can do. Agreed we need to choose the better of two evils, but do so. Democracy means we get to choose our own devils, lets do it. You also have the right to NOT VOTE. As per the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1969 Act, in Section 49-O that a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked, and convey to the presiding election officer that he/she doesn’t want to vote for anyone. Don’t waste your vote or run the risk of someone stealing your identity and voting for you.
SAY NO TO BRIBES/CORRUPTION - Don’t bribe the Ticket conductor in the train, the security guard on the railway/airport etc.. Don’t use ‘Influence’ to buy a flat, invest unethically in any mode of income. Remember, if you can do it, so can a terrorist. A friend of mine was narrating to me how he had loaded DJ equipment in the back of a taxi, while the taxi guy did'nt even bother asking him what it was. Im so proud of Devang, that he told the taxi driver that it is his duty, responsiblity and right to ask whats being loaded into his vehicle. Lets all remember such lapses in duty lead to lives being lost and cities held at seige. Lets remind people of their responsiblities not only to themselves, but also to you and me and the other citizens. At the same time, lets not forget our own.
REALIZE THAT THE FACE OF TERROR HAS CHANGED - They are no longer menacing hoodlum looking tall dominating men. They are young, driven, unconventional looking men. The ride our trains, visit our hotels, invest in our markets, live among us, study our habits and then strike. If we can get away with corruption, so can they.
BE AN ALERT CITIZEN - Allow yourself ... actually insist on being inconvenienced at malls, airports, multiplexes by checking of your bags and self. In fact, if your not being checked well, or carelessly, then someone else could enter with explosives too. Insist that you are checked carefully. Its is their job, raise an alarm if you feel its not being done.
UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS - As a citizen, understand what the RTI is, why we need it, how we can use it, our basic rights as a citizen. 100 crores were recently sanctioned for safety equipment, speed boats etc. I wonder how much of it will percolate down to actual quality equipment, and how much will earn our Mr Deputy CM another college. Have the urge to understand where your money is going and where its being used. Its our right.
KNOW THAT YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE - Those of you still reading this, and nodding your head as each bullet point unfolds…We can make a difference. And this is the time that we have to. Its now or never.
Its time we took up the reins. No more blame game, bad mouthing. Lets start with ourselves first, and then move on to bigger things. The time is NOW.
I hope somewhere, somehow a part of you wakes up on reading this. A part of you gets angry again, stays angry and realizes how important it is for you and me to join hands and come together. Lets do it. Hold my hand.