(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recently in a tragic accident an old person in his seventies was instantly killed by a high speeding motorcycle in front of his own son at about 11-30 AM, just near the Deputy Commissioner's office, Jorhat and yet another one a middle-aged person coming out of home with his spouse for an evening stroll was hit so hard by a speeding dumper in front of the Jorhat Christian Medical Hospital that the person was flung into air and drifted to twenty feet away.
A few years back in an almost similar accident, I lost my own brother, a brilliant engineer of the state in broad day light at a busy intersection at Guwahati. Hundreds of such unfortunate incidents keep happening day in and day out across the state of Assam, which are more than enough for the multitude of our authorities that administer the governance in different layers in the state to stand up and take notice and initiate drastic measures.
Our so-called welfare state is virtually in deep stupor, totally unmindful of the disastrous consequences that our naïve and unsuspecting common people have to endure in their day-to-day life while going out for their livelihood and sundry works. Surprisingly construction of our highways has so far been on-again and off-again basis for the last several years and turned themselves into dreaded killing field with numerous accidents across Assam and no one knows when it will become a thing of the past.
But unfortunately, accidents of more grievous types and nature has inflicted untold pain and miseries and numerous families have to undergo woes of perennial kind-due to loss of the sole bread-winner for the family and the dear and loved ones, while thousand others got incapacitated for life with no social and government support mechanism to enable them to continue the daily drudgery called 'life'.
I am constrained to strike a sour note that people who have been experiencing such intolerable pangs of suffering particularly the deceased's family members have to face harrowing episode of running from pillar to post, obtaining reports, settling issues at police station, hospital, courts, insurance companies, banks and multitude of authorities to get justice and fair play, which is an another episodical narrative that is more painful than the death of the dear ones.
The quality of governance is decelerating at such a fast rate that the local public utilities of our towns and cities or the regulatory bodies of the government-fall much short of their mandated role having abdicated the basic duty of invoking rules and regulation. The people manning these institutions fail to take the leadership role in ensuring compliance of even the fundamental duties and responsibilities.
Year after year the same kind of work ethics persists that unabashedly failed to galvanize the mode or pace of doing works in public utilities or the government departments - so all the tall talk or efforts to bring them to a desired standard expected of a civilized society is still a distant dream.
Only sphere where the standard of governance has changed is the computerization i.e., use of computers in typing, keeping records, documents using scanners and sending reports to the higher up through email. What is critically lacking is an urge to render service selflessly with sense of duty and purpose. Very few government officials are forthcoming who can well relate themselves with the needs of the people around in a harmonious way.
A cursory look around the towns/cities is suffice to figure out the indices of developmental works coming out in terms of utility services like public toilet, street light, parking space, children parks, footways etc. Development has indeed taken place but most are patchy and half-hearted giving least thought and concern to the necessity of different age groups of people that leave much to be desired. It is hazardous for the children and older people to venture out for a morning or evening stroll or go on cycling as practically no free space is available for the older ones. In the evening reckless or drunk driving (commonplace in Assam) is a super menace more dangerous than a pandemic. Some people mostly young ones leave their good senses at home not caring a hoot to traffic rules that make life hellish on the road, so it is better to stay put at home rather than to be hit hard and land in hospital in dying condition or to be left disabled for life. It is ironical that last year Assam witnessed more people dying in fatal road accidents than in Covid-19 pandemic.
So, the situation calls for a very simple but determined and ruthless effort by the district police and transport department to minimize the road accidents and create civic sense for the common well-being of all the citizens. We have surfeit of laws and regulation to handle all kinds of rash, drunk and negligent driving and thereby to devise harsh ways against the violators of rule book, irrespective of all levels right from construction engineers, commuters to regulatory agencies down the line.
A lax nation not knowing how to respect the laws of the land in strictest sense of the term is an indiscipline lot and where all evils right from garbage throwing to the street, clogging of drains by plastic bottles, public spitting, pilferage and destruction of government properties, rash/drunk driving, boot-legging, squeezing the people in the name of public service at al are rife - making this country the butt of the ridicule in outer world.
The life of commoner is getting cheaper and cheaper as the government machineries are feeble and unwieldy, so no appearance of better days will be in sight unless of course the people mend themselves and learn to live in civilized manner respecting laws of the land and till then no government on earth nor divine power can make things better.