Sunday, October 9, 2016

Common Man, Hon CM & Image of State Govt!

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”… John Wooden.

John Robert Wooden was an American basketball player and coach. Nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood," as head coach at UCLA he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including a record seven in a row. No wonder he could say above words with such authority & the reason I recalled these words is none other than our Chief Minister of our State! Recently I read in newspaper that Hon CM is worried about his govt’s public image as well about allegations being made about entire functioning of the govt & is keen to facelift the image of the govt! Well, nothing wrong as a boss of the govt, he should be concerned about the govt’s image in the eyes of the Public & good thing is he does understand its importance but can it be made just by some advertises or social media campaign, is the question I will like to ask. CM Sir first of all let’s understands who “the Public” in first place is, then we can work out the way to lift image of govt in public eyes or minds!
When we use the term public, do we mean our voters? I think that’s too large a term as every eighteen year & above comes in that category! I think when we say public; mostly we are considering common man which again is very relative term. Yet a common man in common language is the one who gets hit most or say affected most when govt is not performing properly is what I will define.  

Now let’s see who comes in this category of common man? First it is every that person who has either less or inadequate money to buy his way out of difficulties or who don’t have any power or authority to mend the things as per his needs or who has no high profile friends who can make life easy for him, is the common definition of the common man! For e.g. it’s the common man who don’t have money to pay hefty donations & get admission to his kids in a reputed public school when his son or daughter doesn’t get 95% or above marks & many a times even those marks are also not enough! Common man is the one who can’t buy a car or afford to use it daily because of high petrol prices; he can’t afford a driver either so because of parking problems he can’t dare to use his car even if he affords fuel costs & has to be dependent on public transport which is very poor in city like Pune. Common man is the one who has limited budget with small insurance cover when it comes to any treating illness of his or any family member & has to worry for high treatment costs of private hospitals as public health or govt hospitals are known for the kind of service thy offer if you are a common man! Common man is the one who can’t change his home at his wish, leave apart choosing the location of one as he just can’t dream to buy a home in some elite location where water, drainage, good roads like basic things are available in. So he has to settle for his dream home in either at a location which is far away from his work place & without any infrastructure; many a times even legality of that home is in doubt yet he has to surrender to some fly by night developer, looking at his own limited salary & EMI equation & even after paying all installments in time is not sure about getting the possession of the home leave apart quality of the same! Common man is the one who stop buying green vegetables or commodities like Chana/Tur Dal when the prices of these items sour & settles down for potato or pumpkin subji for months as he can’t afford the black marketers rates for these items & the list of characteristics of the common man goes on. In nut-shale common man is the person who surrenders to the situation rather than making the situation surrenders him! One more aspect, common man is the one who has to make multiple visits to any govt office for slightest of his work, even when he is not wrong; for e.g. correction in electric bill or getting property tax on his name of his property & nightmare is dealing with anything related to documents like 7/12 or demarcation of his small piece of the land! Lastly one more characteristic of the common man, he is the one who is afraid of going to police station even to launch the complaint for any injustice happening with him!

CM Sir now once we have identified the public which is common man, then we can take a review of what it is which is making image of govt damaged in the eyes of this common man! For that you can try what the famous Akbar Badshah used to do i.e. roam on streets under disguise, alas you don’t have a aide in form of the Birbal like Akbar Badhsha had but never mind, you can give a try by yourself as it seems you are the only one who is worried about the govt’s image! So let’s have a little walk on the streets of our Pune city & what you will realize is, there is no place to walk as the roads are flooded with private vehicles as public transport either doesn’t exists or very insufficient. The bus stops are joke as they are like tail of sheep, existing for the name sake offering neither shelter nor the information to the commuters! Then there are auto rickshaws standing right in front of the bus stops blocking the way to the bus if it comes on time as there is no time table displayed on any bus stop.  Here in our city there are no way-boards or signage about the places on roads making you clueless about the destination you are going, if you are a new comer to the city! Instead you will find cut outs/banners/hoardings of every size & shape covering whatever way-boards & signage’s are there & yet the leaders or faces on these hoardings keep appealing not to flaunt hoardings of their faces! Neither the karykarta's takes any cognizance of the leader’s appeals nor local public bodies’ e.g. PMC, has any guts to take any action against such hoardings! As you start walking on footpaths, if they are in place then you will know some hoardings even block the foot paths itself but you are not supposed to complaint as but bow your head in front of the hoardings & keep walking, that’s characteristic of the common man, do mind!

If you are able to dodge the hoardings then there are Vegetable vendors to Chinese food stalls & many more aligned on every foot path claiming their ownership on the space.  So you have to walk on road itself making you vulnerable to signal jumping pillion riders, who are not afraid of any traffic policeman if they are there to manage the traffic! Please neglect the footpath condition i.e. the flooring of the pavement as it can be anything as per the whims of the local elected members, right from sleeper ceramic tiles to concrete blocks & be careful about the level of the flooring of foot paths as its being dug for every known reason like rain water pipe lines to optical fiber cables to pipe gas & all round the year & each agency conveniently forget to make the surface as it was when first time the footpath was made. By the way the very same PMC don’t allow the common man to dig the road for most of the year even for essential things like water connection, that too after paying hefty road cutting charges! Also don’t ask what happens to the collected road cutting charges from all these agencies which has dug the footpaths & roads, because you are walking as a common man & not as CM! And the common man doesn’t know whom to ask such questions & if he knows & asks then nobody is required to answer his questions about the city or such issues, mind it!

Ahead on road you will have to face one more hurdle i.e. garbage bins which are mostly on footpath & ever over flowing. Reasons may be the only garbage depot for the city which is at fursungi, the villagers have blocked the PMC garbage vehicles or the personals who are supposed to collect the garbage are on strike (Though I don’t blame them considering the attitude of very common man about throwing everything here). So the footpaths may be blocked with the garbage or the stink is such that you won’t be able to walk & prefer to risk your life by walking on roads! By the way there was a news in news papers that in a recent Hon Vice President’s visit to the city, as the local authorities couldn’t clear the road side garbage in time so they just covered the road side by green net shades, to avoid the sight of garbage from the eyes of Hon Vice President, brilliant idea, isn’t it? But you are a common man so you will have to look at the garbage heaps, mind it! Last but not least if you are lucky enough then you can have entertainment in form of some marriage procession or any party’s candidate has got some post at local level procession, with loudest music & fire crackers, take it as entertainment & not as disturbance to your ears & eyes as that’s what a common man is supposed to do at such times! Don’t ask any karykarta in the procession to reduce the volume of speakers or ask to show them for police permission for procession, the consequences can be fatal for the common man! One thing more, ignore the Cycle Track signage on footpath & don’t ask where is footpath & where is Cycle Track as the signage’s are just for name sake & no cycle rider will dare to ride on said cycle track, so walk freely!

Now after walking for a while if you are feeling like having “Nature’s Call”, then you are in real trouble! Because there are no public lavatories at regular intervals in our city & the one in existence are in such a dreadful condition that even poor beggars’ doesn’t dare to use them. CM Sir we don’t need any signage for public lavatory as you can locate one from a distance because of the stink it generates, is what typical Common Puneri residents says & I agree with them! And as you are a common man so you can’t dare to go to any restaurant alongside the road & ask for permission to use their toilet facility, so what you do is turn your back to the public & answer your Nature’s Call, putting all your shame aside & neglecting the sticker on the wall, “Yaha Peshab Karna Mana Hai”! This too is possible as you are a common man; don’t even imagine what if you had been a common woman!

See, now you must have had a glimpse of what common man has to face on road & what image he must be having of govt in his mind. And the scene isn’t different in any of the city in State only difference may be at some places you will have to face over flowing drainage on road as well beggars may bother you along with stray dogs while walking. Also domestic animals like cows & buffaloes too can be add on along with the cow dung on footpath or roads also be present in some places, if you are unlucky enough! And then this was just a little walk on any street in the city or town; if you want to see further then lets visit local governing body’s office & ask for water connection or let’s go to Talathi office & give application for change in name on 7/12 of your two guntha plot. Here you will realize right from just locating the concerned person & to make him realize that your work too is important to get that job done, what a common man has to undergo in the process!

Now if you are thinking what my fault in all these issues is, as does the CM or any Minister has to look in so small things? Then Sir agreed all above works may not be directly coming under your control yet these are the things which makes image of a govt in the minds of the so called common man. And common man need not necessarily be a peon or clerk in any bank or working in some private firm; you will find the common man in ever business man, shop keeper, proprietary firm owners, in doctors even in the form of real estate developer too you can get a common man! All these men are the ones who want to follow the laws of the system & make their living. They still respect the system named govt as that’s why they follow the laws but they are frustrated now as they experience every day here, the laws are only for those who follows them. If you go to the so called authorities then there are hundreds of permission which takes years & ever changing policies to build one single building. But if you don’t care for any authority & build as many buildings you want without fearing any law then eventually these buildings get regularized by the very same law makers, is what hurts the common man most!

CM Sir if it’s this class which you are targeting to face-lift your govt’s image then all you have to do is improve the system to such a level where day to day things need not have required to follow! We can think of forming a special squad which will go in public, will visit all such points of obstacles within the govt & spot the lacuna in the system which is repeatedly failing to serve the common man & then remove these spots. Identify good officers in the system as there are still many such & give them free hand as these people will be the best brand ambassadors for the govt! Sir, bitter truth is the so called common man just doesn’t believe any more in any govt or such system; fault is not yours but this is what has been happening years after years. Whatever I mentioned above about small problems related to any department’s office, the system makes the common man surrenders either to the agents who has key to open up the way through various tables or just leave & become NRI! That too if he is capable enough of getting NRIship or else drag on with life here & express his frustration on FB or Whatsp or write a letter as “Jagruk Nagrik” in news papers which most no more bothers to read now a days! So CM Sir instead appointing any  high level officer or professional media to face-lift image of govt, make every person associated with the govt understand very clearly that he or she is the face of the govt & if they are not doing their job & keep making the face ugly then remove them by plastic surgery! As that’s what need of the time is or else the day is not long where the govt will have a beautifully make-up face but there will be no Common Man left to appreciate that face!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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