January 02, 2009

Resolution for 2009: Be the Change in your Community

'Make use of us! We are ready to contribute!'
This is the audio-visual that keeps coming back to mind as 2009 dawns.
It is a visual of 2008. An event that followed the Mumbai terror attack.
At least a thousand people had gathered on the sands of the Marina that Sunday morning.
Men, women and children. Under different umbrellas. I guess the big banner that brought them together was Citizens for Change.
They sympathised with the victims in Bombay. And they pledged to be more active in the public.
'Make use of us! We are ready to contribute!'
That voice, that of a young woman rings in my mind though it bounced off my TV set that Sunday morning.
And I thought to myself - what is she trying to tell us? What is she sharing with us?
If there is one New Year resolution that you and I need to make it is to play a more active and legitimate role as a community - in our campus, in our neighbourhood and in our city.
Lighting candles, joining a walk on the beach and making colourful banners is simple and easy. But it seems to be a fun thing to do.
More so when the TV crews are hounding you.
But active public participation is not a fun outing.
It is a serious engagement.
When Metrowater fills up a large 'kuttai' in K. K. Nagar to expand its business and a few active citizens want to run a campaign against it, they do not find the community behind them. That 'kuttai' is the water harvesting and reservoir centre which can receive floodwater. Closing it will only contribute to flooding and disaster.
When Chennai Corporation burns crores of rupees to relay pavements alongside the beach for no reason and refuses to talk about maintenance of the beach and the sands and a few activists run a  campaign in Besant Nagar, they do not receive support from the community which is content to wear out its Nikes, burn fat and make small talk.
Where there are active community leaders, the community chooses to keep away.
Where there are a group of concerned citizens, leadership is absent.
Where there is a statue of Gandhiji, there is space to light candles.
Be the Change.

1 comment:

Appa said...

We fully agree with what you have said in this column.I and my wife are two people in our street who pull up those who urinate on the street and those who spit,but without any avail and support from onlookers.Rather they look at us critically.And those offenders in return use filthy language. A houseowner, a few houses away from ours , after this rains, started letting out all the sewage water from his drainage onto the street,using a long pipe.When I told him it wasn't right on his part to do like that, he said that I could go and complain to all civic bodies and persons i know and he cared little.
However, we will wage our lonely battle,come what may.We will continue.
with regards,
chandrsekharan k.r.