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Enough is enough: Nothing will change

Last updated on: December 20, 2008 13:34 IST

So everyone said 'enough is enough'. First, they said it to the politicians. They said it in the media, and then to the media.

Then they stopped saying it, and life is back to normal, or what passes for normalcy (given our daily national quota of mayhem).

The media seems to have heard; the association formed by TV news channels has put out a code of conduct which is at least a beginning. But what of the politicians?

Here's what. Maharashtra has a new state government which includes a minister widely believed to have links with the underworld.

More than 98 per cent of parliamentarians failed to show up at the memorial function to honour those who died while protecting our MPs seven years ago.

And, while all those alert and newly active citizens were going about their daily lives, Parliament passed within a day new laws that we may come to regret, if we believe that giving extra powers (like holding you in custody for six months, without any explanation offered) to an unreformed police force reporting to those same unreformed politicians who may or may not have criminal links, is not a great idea.

And we also have Mr Antulay, he of the Indira Gandhi Pratishthan fame, deliberately spinning conspiracy theories about the death of a senior police officer in the terrorist action.

So, after all of three weeks, do we re-ignite the fires of revolt and light more candles and hold hands all over again?

The world is not about to change just because some people get angry and call for tax boycotts.

To be sure, advance tax collections on December 15 showed a dip, but even a rash betting man will not take a wager on the tax boycott call being the cause.

Indeed, citizens seem to be quite happy with the governments they haveĀ -- three of the five that went back to voters have got re-elected, and the voting percentages have been large.

And, among those elected is the usual percentage of people with criminal records, tax dodgers and the like.

So what are we going to stop, by saying 'Enough is enough'? Will we stop the surface transport minister from changing the chairman of the National Highway Authority of India every six months, so that some road contracts can be given out and our highways get built?

Will we improve our military procurement processes so that the air force can get some new planes, and troops get the best night-vision equipment (neither having happened so far)?

Will we catch the poachers so that the Kanha tiger reserve does not go the way of Sariska, and become devoid of tigers? (These three examples have been picked from several such issues that featured on the front pages of the newspapers this week.)

What's my point? Do we accept the fatalistic/cynical position that nothing will change? Should everyone simply stop caring and manage their own affairs as best they can (ie deal with power cuts, the lack of water in our taps, and such), and let the devil take the hindmost?

Or do we recognise that what brings about change is not fleeting anger? For those who want a dose of reality, rather than escapist catharsis, go back to Suketu Mehta's Maximum City to understand how Mumbai/Bombay really lives, works, thinks and acts.

There are more than enough people in Mumbai and in the rest of the country who are engaged with trying to change the way things are; look at the growing numbers who are a part of "civil society", people (including young people) who have shown commitment; if change comes, it is because of them.
T N Ninan