During the last 40 or 50 years, the Assam government has turned its back rather resolutely on one or two crying needs of the State. They are: (a) adequate electricity for the State even during peak hours; and (b) adequate drinking water for everyone. Adequate drinking water for everyone should have been no problem at all, considering that this is a State with more than the requisite number of rivers to provide plenty of water for the entire population. What we have been in real dearth of is the requisite effort on the part of ministers and bureaucrats of the State who have to make things happen. Whether we are talking of electricity or drinking water, we are talking of very vital needs of the people. And we are also talking of the needs of the people in the context of a rapidly growing population. In the case of electricity, we are talking not only of the increased needs of power because of the huge increase in population in four or five decades, but also of the kinds of newer electrical and electronic gadgets that people are beginning to use. They have every right to do so. As far as the supply of drinking water is concerned, the needs have not changed at all. But the numbers have. All that our politicians and bureaucrats have done is to provide outdated figures of population to hoodwink the people. They have also got into the habit of always talking in the future tense. This ebles them to evade the fleeting present and to make tall promises about future intentions that they do not intend to honour because they do not even know how to go about fulfilling such promises. But tall promises come in very handy to win elections. For some reason or the other, people seem to keep forgetting that they have been deluded in the past by the same set of politicians or similar ones. It is high time people kept a tab on the kind of promises made by politicians and bureaucrats and held them to their promises at every available opportunity. Just because the leaders of a democracy have got into the habit of making promises that they do not intend to honour and of always talking about the future, the stakeholders of democracy—the people—have no valid reason to take them at their words every time (despite past experiences) and to heed such empty promises. It is high time the people devised ways of making their leaders far more accountable to them than they are now. One way of making them get the message is to stage walkouts from meetings every time ministers or bureaucrats make tall promises of future action. The people must start asking them what they did yesterday for the people and the State to deserve their salaries.
Make Rulers Accountable