By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Life has become very complex—full of contradictions. Now it is so complicated that one cannot see his way through the maze. It is like going round and round the mulberry bush. We are living in the 21st century and the world has become very much advanced. India has acquired success by leaps and bounds, and now our country is proud to claim the status of a fast developing tion. This glossy picture is attractive—but there is much discontent and frustration behind the gloss. Whatever is seen is not always true and we have to accept the truth of the statement that “all that glitters is not gold”. The people are facing an uphill task in their struggle for existence.
There are hundreds of problems which we are facing every day. Inflation, corruption, adulteration and various kinds of crimes have choked the populace. The tax-payers have been denied even the basic amenities, which they rightfully deserve. On the top of that terrorism and counter-terrorism have crippled the tion. I think that in comparison to the present situation in this progressive age, the days in the past were much more peaceful and hassle-free. At least there were no unprovoked violence nor were there corruption, adulteration, terrorism and other kinds of crimes, which have become commonplace in this era. They were deeply religious people and were supporters of spiritualism.
Apparently the administration is least concerned about the problems of the citizens. It is impossible to list all our problems and hence only a few can be mentioned. Due to the defective draige system, Guwahati faces incessant artificial floods throughout the rainy season. The drains are ull of all sorts of rubbish which block the tural flow of water. But nothing is done to clear them on a regular basis. Now we are always getting the news that many dengue deaths have occurred in the city and elsewhere in the state. We have been advised to take certain measures to get rid of the dreaded dengue. Yet nothing has been done by the concerned department to make the city mosquito-free.
For any small action which you are entitled to get, you have to pay through your nose to get it done. These paid officials have to be offered bribe for doing their duty to the public, for which they do get handsome salary. In this context I do remember an incident, which I wish to share with you. It happened many years back, long before my retirement from service. For some urgent matter I had written a letter to the concerned department. But it brought no response. I sent a reminder, but it also went the same way. Filly I decided that it was time for persol onslaught. Taking leave from my office I arrived at that particular department precisely at 10 A.M. and to my dismay I found that there was nobody there except a peon who was sitting on a stool in the corner dozing. I woke him up and asked when the officials would arrive. His look told me that it was silly of me to expect officials to arrive so early.
After some time life seemed to emerge and people started arriving and doors and windows were opened. Taking courage in both my hands I nervously entered the large room. These officials always make me fidgety, though I do not know the reason. Anyway, inside the room I found the officials engaged in loud conversation on various topics, not connected with their profession. I asked somebody as to which table belonged to the person I was going to meet. He pointed to a corner and I went there only to find a shopping bag on the table and an umbrella at the back of the chair. He did arrive eventually and sat down on his chair. He gave me a chilly look and asked about my business. I broached the subject hesitantly and told him about my unswered letters. The official was not at all pleased with my explation. He told me querulously that he had to deal with hundreds of files each day. So I could not expect him to attend to my letter, as if my letter was entirely negligible. In spite of my hesitation, I was firm and I requested him to ask somebody to bring my file.
After some time I was informed that my file could not be found and the officer asked me to come another day. But I was not going to oblige him, as I could not possibly waste another day in my wild-goose chase. So I decided to adopt some unfair means to get my job done, which I myself had always condemned. I always say that giving bribe is as bad as taking it. But I believe that sometimes circumstance compels you to do the wrong thing. I had no other altertive. In spite of my annoyance, I told him that if he did what I wanted him to do, then he would be given a handsome reward for him pains. The frown in the officer’s face vanished and he was all smiles.
The missing file reappeared in a jiffy and my work was done. My little bit of dishonesty did bring me happy result. But it was done under compulsion and today I realise that it was very wrong of me. Dishonesty can never be approved under any circumstance and I feel guilty when I think of that incident of the past. Now I see that corruption is increasing a lot and it has gwed the very fabric of Indian society.
That is not the only problem. Adulteration has done immense harm to the health of the tion. None can get anything than can be termed as pure. Rice may be mixed with tiny stones, sugar with glass particles, spices with grains of sand, mustard oil with burnt mobil. Pure food has become a kind of fib. We hear that even baby food is adulterated. People say that the life-saving capsules may contain nothing but chalk powder, the saline bottle may contain only plain water. But how can adulterated milk benefit anybody? The milk we get is nothing but water and cheap milk powder. Nothing has been done to check the mece of adulteration by the administration, and to ensure good health to the tion.
I have some direct experience of the quality of milk we are buying every day. In fact in the battle of wits my milkman always wins hands down and I come the loser. He is never at a loss for words, which flutter from his mouth like confetti. One of his favourite explations is that his cow is very temperamental. In his opinion the quality of milk depends on the mood of the cow. I suppose I would have to do some research work on the psycho-physical characteristics of cows to cope with his ingenuous explations! So I am stuck with the watery milk and that is that. How can our children become healthy if they are fed with adulterated milk? In the past there was no such adulteration on such a large scale. People now do not know what they should give to the children. On the top of that, with the emergence of these Fast Food stalls, children are no longer interested in home-made food, which is good for their health.
The prices of every commodity are increasing. The unbelievably high prices of LPG, petrol, diesel, kerosene and foodstuff as well as the excessively high electricity charges have brought untold misery to the citizens. Despite paying taxes regularly, we do not get proper service from the various departments. Many of the areas in the city do not get sufficient water and sometimes not at all. Some of the localities are entirely deprived of water. The residents of those areas have to make their own arrangement for procuring water at enormous cost. During the rainy season, the city resembles a river and all the low-lying areas are submerged. People have learnt to live in the midst of water.
Corruption, terrorism, and diverse kinds of problems have brought chaos and catastrophe to society. The situation is such that we cannot trust anybody. I really do not know what has happened to humanity. Is it entirely lost to us? Killing people have become a game to some people. Today they do not say with flowers, but say with bullets. Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent India has become a haven of violence and terror. Once India was a land of spiritualism. But now that glorious spiritualism has been lost. Ethics tells us that there is no holiday from virtue. But in this age virtue has become defunct and it is the age of vice.
But I do feel that immoral conduct cannot give us permanent happiness, and only virtuous behaviour can bestow happiness on us. If I do something wrong, it will make me feel guilty and that would not give me happiness, it will only bring suffering and anguish. It is essential to regenerate our lost humanity and spiritualism. I do believe that happiness depends on right conduct. Let us attempt to get permanent happiness. It is worth making an attempt.