August 20, 2011

What about local battles?

Ashok Rajendran was a candidate in the Mylapore constituency in the recent elections to the Tamil Nadu state Assembly.
He was among the few which the Makkal Sakthi party put up across the state. They blew their whistles hard to let people know that the whistle was their symbol, impressed a few people and have lived to fight another day.
Ashok has been chatting with me about the prospects of young people in the local elections which have to be held by end October. We get to vote our reps to the city council or to the local panchayat in these elections.
Unfortunately, parties like Makkal Sakthi are so thin in strength that they do not have the numbers to even make an impact outside election time in our wards and neighbourhoods.
Ashok and his colleagues however are whistling on. A campaign against liquor has been going on and currently, they are involved in the India Against Corruption campaign which Anna Hazare and his team has triggered and given momentum to.
In Adyar, many young people and some seniors have been seen lending their support to this campaign. They all seem earnest, spirited and vocal too.
But it seems to me that many people get activated only when a massive, nation-wide movement gets going. It seems to me that people wait for some big thing to happen in order to raise a voice, carry a placard or skip lunch.
We do not see these people when issues plague the cities and neighbourhoods where they live and work.
Or is it that we are weak or frightened when it comes to local action? Or is it that such issues are not exciting to address?
The Lok Pal bill is not a magic wand. And any form of it will work only if change happens at the grassroots. And the campaign is sustained.
Would you like to be a Watchdog of local civic projects? Database them, record their execution, audit them?
Would you like blow the whistle when a local official demands money for a water connection or the local policeman wants to be gratified to allow you to take out a rally by the beach?

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