Chaotic Traffic and Citizen Responsibility

We often rightly complain about chaotic traffic on our streets and lawlessness in our society. Hyderabad City is a prime example of both these scourges. All visitors tell us that if you can navigate the Hyderabad traffic successfully, you can drive anywhere in the world without fear! And yet we fail to realize that the problem is not with the police, but with us. We neither seem to care for traffic rules, nor do we take responsibility for our actions.

Why do we pay?

The recent headline declaring that Indians pay nearly 27000 crores bribes each year has caught the attention of quite a few readers. While many are aghast at the quantum, some shrugged their shoulders in smug awareness of the rotten people in government, and others humbly admitted that unless we the people change there is no salvation for India.

Common Sense and Quality of Life

Recently, a doctor friend of mine in Hyderabad commented that too many people were approaching him with respiratory disorders. This can be partly explained by the winter cold. But in a substantial measure our illnesses are man-made. Here are some facts for you. A study by a reputed public health journal pointed out that 30-50 % of twin cities population is suffering from allergy, asthma and other respiratory disorders. Other studies also pointed out that almost 25% of school children in the city are suffering from asthma and other respiratory disorders such as bronchitis.

Global Change and Deep Slumber

Recently, I had an opportunity to spend some time in Kenya as a member of the commonwealth group of election observers deputed to oversee the national general elections. Even though I had taken on this assignment rather reluctantly, I am really glad that I did, as it has opened an entirely new world and shattered the many unflattering myths we harbor about Africa. Nothing that we learnt as kids about Africa prepared me for the breathtaking beauty of Kenya and the grace and dignity of the people.

Liberty and Collective Action

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

 

FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

 

Politicians and Public – Dangerous Standoff

Democracy is about peaceful change. If that hope of peaceful transformation is extinguished, all that is left is anarchy or violent upheavals. President Abdul Kalam’s courageous act in returning the patently unconstitutional Representation of the People (Amendment) Ordinance 2002 for the reconsideration of the Council of Ministers is a great morale booster for all those who seek peaceful change. This act of diligence and statesmanship helps uphold the letter and spirit our Constitution as few official actions have done in recent times.

A Nation’s Destiny

Set our course by the twinkle of the distant star and not by the light of the passing ship                                                                                               Anonymous

This week marks the anniversary of our nation’s Independence.  55 years ago Pandit Nehru set course for the new nation-state in his “Tryst with Destiny” speech.  This is as good a time as any to look at what course the country has taken and chart out a new bearing to put it back on course.

Corruption in Civil Services

The Civil Servants thought of themselves as Guardians, in the Platonic sense : “ All who are in any place of command in so far as they are indeed rulers, neither consider nor enjoin their own interest but that of the subjects on behalf of whom they exercise their craft….” (Republic)

 

Philip Woodruff : The Guardians

 

Isn’t Everyone Equal Under Law ?

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Traffic violations are more the norm than the exception anywhere in India. And in this one area, I am afraid the average citizen is as guilty as the rich and influential.   But that it should make news in our city is by itself newsworthy. So why and how did it make news? It became news because the driver of a Swaraj Mazda van was pulled up by a traffic sub-inspector and given a Rs100/- challan. It also happened that the Mayor himself was traveling in the van! The officer dutifully dropped the challan into the car.  The aghast Mayor promptly called the Joint Commissioner of Traffic.

Change the nature of demand

Any one who notices the higher education scene in Andhra would be awe struck by the tremendous demand for professional courses. Right from childhood every student aspires to become either an engineer or doctor. The parents feel that unless their children have a professional degree, they will not get a decent job. In reality, our society needs lot more people with diverse skill sets and expertise other than engineering or medicine. But, unfortunately we haven’t created either the demand for that sort of knowledge or the capacity to utilize those skills productively.