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Rights and Duties
Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Since independence India has steadily grown into a progressive and modern democracy. Our country has made tremendous progress in science, technology and in every other field. Now India can claim to be at par with other developed tions of the world. In spite of all that progress, it appears that our country has not been able to actualize the visions of our forefathers, who happened to be the architects of the tion.
It is no use blaming others for any problem. What is necessary for us is to exercise a little introspection to find out our own faults. Gandhiji envisaged a Ram Rajya, where all the citizens would get justice from the administration and there would be peace and happiness for all the citizens. But that has not happened. Whose fault is it? It is no use blaming the government machinery for the sad state of the country, since I believe that we ourselves are equally responsible.
We are vociferous in our demands for various benefits. All kinds of agitations like strikes, bandhs, dhars etc are called at the drop of a hat. The employees in diverse departments want better wages, better amenities and various other benefits. Our wants are never-ending and they always increase with the passage of time. There is nothing wrong in making demands if they can be justified. But the problem is that we often forget that rights and duties go together. They are like two sides of a coin. Our demand for better wages may be justified, but are we also aware of our duties? Better wages imply better work by the employees. But it often happens that the employees are not bothered about their duties even after getting better wages.
In any government office punctuality appears to be a rare phenomenon. The officials do not value time. Benjamin Franklin had once remarked in his “Advice to a young Tradesman” that “Time is money”. But in our country nobody seems to understand the implication of the statement or possibly they are not interested. I think that most of us want to earn more money without doing our allotted duty.
Velity and crimes are rampant in our society, but they do not offend our sensibilities, because we ourselves are involved in them. Even young students are not free from crimes. They resort to unfair means just to pass the examition. Once the students had to work very hard for the desired success. But in this age we see a marked preference for mediocrity and easy success. To achieve the goal they prefer short-cuts, a tendency obvious in most people. But mediocrity is fatal and the goal should be excellence. Everybody wants more money and more wealth, but for achieving that goal one has to struggle hard. But we do not want to work for achieving our ambition. We want easy money. People demand more money, but they do not want to work for that. Often we hear of agitations by the employees of various organizations for better wages. But they ignore the fact that one has to do more work for earning better salary.
Unless you are prepared to grease the palm of some official your work will not be done, though it is your right to get and they get their monthly wage for doing their job properly. Then we hear that many of the government’s grants for some welfare scheme are not utilized for the stated purpose. There is no end to our misdeeds and we do not feel even a prick of conscience for our wrong doing. We have become incredibly selfish and we do not care whom we hurt in our craze for money and other material benefits. Sometimes I do feel that we have lost our right to call ourselves the highest product in the evolutiory process.
Bandhs are called on various issues, major or minor. There is nothing voluntary about it. Shop owners are forced to down their shutters against their will, with the threat of dire consequences, if the orders of the agitators are not heeded. Stones are thrown at moving vehicles or they are burnt down. People are attacked if they dare to defy the order of the bandh organizers. Government property is often vandalized during a bandh or any kind of agitation. Buses are damaged, drivers are beaten up and the passengers are ordered to get out. That is the way they adopt to make a bandh successful. They break down furniture and glass cabinets in various offices, destroy files and anything they can lay their hands on. Do they ever think of those daily-wage earners who may not be able to afford two square meals a day? Their daily food depends on their daily earnings and a bandh possibly implies a day of starvation for them. That is our tragedy.
Citizens have many bad habits. For instance, they take betel nuts with lime and some tobacco-related ingredients and spit anywhere they like, without bothering about the pedestrians who walk that way. After eating ba or orange, they throw away the peel on the road. Therefore our roads are littered with peels, ice-cream cups, chocolate wrappers, empty packets, or any kind of rubbish.
It is a fact that our people indulge in all kinds of civic improprieties and are not at all favourable to obey rules and regulations. River sides, pavements, and certain places in the open are used as public toilets, ignoring health, hygiene and modesty. We throw away garbage in front of another’s gate without a qualm. After a wedding, the road in front of the house, where the wedding was held, looks like a dumping ground of paper plates, cups, thrown away leftover food and all sorts of garbage emitting a foul smell. We try to keep our own homes clean, but not interested in keeping the road or any public place clean.
Groups of people go for picnics in diverse areas, full of tural beauty. They enjoy the food and the scenic beauty of the place. But before leaving they do not bother to clean the place. But strangely enough, the same people behave in the best possible way while abroad. If they can keep foreign countries clean, then why can’t they do that in their own country? Some people remark that there are better hygiene and better traffic discipline abroad, but they would breach the same back home. Our own people do nothing to improve the traffic situation or the health care in our country.
In the education scerio also many defects can be found. Students do not study properly and many of them use unfair means to get through the examition. They believe that they have right to cheat. They want to pass examitions without making any effort. They possibly think that cheating in examition should be accepted with good grace. If some of them are caught and expelled, all sorts of agitations and protests are held in the campus. Some students turn violent, as they believe that they have the right to cheat in examition. Assaulting invigilators who catch the cheats have become a common practice. These students want to pass their examitions without making any effort. Ultimately these same people become a burden to the state, as they have not been able to acquire any skill for gainful employment. Rights are forcefully demanded, but duties are generally ignored. People seem to be uware of the fact that to claim your right you have to do your duty honestly.
It is easy to blame others for any little fault. But the tragedy is that we do not learn from our mistakes. There is no end to our follies.
Actually garbage by the roadside has become a common site in Guwahati and it is no use blaming the government agencies for the obnoxious site, since we ourselves are responsible for making our city dirty. We never consider our defects. Some portions of the road are occasiolly used for wedding receptions or for other activities. Because of the road-blockage, the motorist coming that way has to turn back suddenly to his acute dismay. The function-organizers are not the least concerned about the problems faced by other people for their inconsiderate behaviour. People pile building materials on thoroughfares, tap the sources of water or electricity for individual benefit. And after all those irregular activities some people complain about congested roads, contamited water or loadshedding, without realizing that it is their selfish activities which are affecting the quality of public service. In our country there are enough rules and laws, but their enforcement is seldom effective. In other countries one has to pay a hefty fine for littering public places or for traffic violation. But here one can get away with devious means. It has become a fashion to break rules. We see cars of some VIPs being parked in no-parking zones. Law-keepers may prevent ordiry citizens like us from parking vehicles in prohibited areas. But VIPs are apparently above law and they are not bound by any rules. Not only the VIPs, but their family members also seem to be exempted from obeying rules. So that is our India, supposed to be the largest democracy in the world.
Whatever that may be, I think that it is time we realized that we cannot claim our rights unless we do our duty, since they go together. The realization of this truth may make us happy and better human beings.