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.

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

 

Public Opinion Is Everything

Haven’t we been complaining for long about the sorry state of affairs in India? Whenever two thinking citizens meet, isn’t the conversation inevitably about the extraordinary crisis facing the country – corruption, delay, inefficiency, extortion, criminalization? Why then aren’t we focusing on what can be done, instead of what is wrong? Is it just apathy, or skepticism, or cynicism, or is it something more?

Speak Up and Be Counted

This week marks the 27th anniversary of imposition of ”internal emergency” in this country. That dark chapter in our country’s history saw suspension of basic civil liberties and habeas corpus, and stifling of press freedom. About 100,000 people were incarcerated for daring to speak-up. Contrast this with just 864 persons detained during the whole of US Civil War!

People Power

Often times I am asked why I have embarked on this unusual journey – medical education, civil service and now governance reform. Born about a decade after Independence, I grew up in a village in coastal Andhra. My father was employed in a small town in Maharashtra, and an old aunt, a child widow who never remarried, raised me. These somewhat unusual circumstances gave me the different perspective of a participant/observer of public defecation, caste, hierarchies, superstitions, poverty and underdevelopment.

Role of the State in Providing Public Services

For the first time in nearly five decades, political parties are fighting the general elections almost entirely on the basis of developmental and governance issues.   It is therefore not surprising that the role of politicians and the government in providing public services became the focus of electoral debate.  This is definitely a good development and indicates the maturing of Indian political process.  At the same time, we should also understand the relative roles of the citizens and the governmental service providers.

Perjury and Criminal Justice System

The acquittal of the accused in the notorious Best Bakery case has once again exposed the weakness of our criminal justice system.  Swaminathan Aiyar in these columns made a strong plea for stringent action against perjury in order to restore the sanctity of the judicial process.

Public Nuisance and Civic Rights

These examples can be multiplied.