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413. Public Awareness

Democracy is a benevolent force gradually spreading all over the world. Fareed Zakaria has published a book that pleads for liberty, as it is liberty that gives life to democracy. Public apathy slowly leads to slavery. Public awareness step by step leads to liberty and democracy. After the advent of the Consumer Forum there is an administrative apparatus to which you can go for remedy. When a telegram comes to Pondy from Delhi in one hour, the telegraph office takes four to five hours for delivery. Sometimes it is done the next day. Among businessmen, it is a well known fact that if any foreign cheque is routed through Calcutta, the cheque stays in Calcutta for months. Once to my knowledge, it was there for ten months.

Democracy can slide down to the tyranny of irresponsible administration, if the public is not aware. Corruption is prevalent everywhere. It is sometimes the experience of customers that they must pay Rs. 10/- or even Rs. 50/- to secure a chalan from an office. Man submits to injustice, maltreatment, cruelty, tyranny, etc. The times are changing. Those who were sinned against earlier now turn as sinners. Teachers in professional colleges behave in the matter of 'discipline' as those of primary schools in 1940. If all this is tolerated, very soon democracy will lose its essential content. The public must awaken. When a fuse is to be fixed, one has to wait for a day or several days.

I wish all these anomalies could be wiped out by one stroke of the pen by officers at any level. Measures are simple. They do not require explanation. Suppose a neighbourhood is full of potholes, any amount of protest does not move the administration. When a telegram is sent for quick delivery, but is delivered very late, there is no remedy. At least the amount of the telegram should be returned. The local citizens can collect money and fill up all the potholes and ask for reimbursement. There are millions of minor injustices. It is not necessary to suffer them unless we are docile or submissive. In a free country with our poverty (of $486 per capital income) the chances of democracy are slender. A study says only when the per capita income rises to $6000 does democracy have any permanency. Our democratic tradition is sacred but WEAK. Public awareness is spiritual awakening. One needs to preserve it.

story | by Dr. Radut