Speech Disorder or Spinal Problem?

One morning at a domestic airport, I was standing in a long queue for Security Check. A well-known politician, then a state minister, walked past between 2 queues with his entourage. One of his sidekicks was pushing people aside to ensure his boss had a wide path. When I protested, he gave me a condescending look and said, “He’s a Minister,” to which I replied loudly, “Is he a public servant or is the public his servants? You guys beg for our votes during elections, but act like kings after we elect you!” The sidekick did not respond, but he stopped pushing people aside. After the politician and his entourage left, some of the other passengers said things like, “These politicians will never change” and “No point wasting our energy.” One person advised me that speaking up against politicians would only mean inviting trouble.
I was not surprised that none of the other passengers had bothered to protest even though they knew what was happening was wrong. I was not surprised that none of them had supported me when I spoke up. But I was certainly surprised and disappointed that none of them said even one word of support after the politician had left.

On another occasion, a late evening domestic flight (ETD 8.15 pm) did not take off for about 45 minutes after having taxied to edge of the runway. It was announced that we were awaiting clearance for take-off, but no time frame was given. When a couple of other flights took off while we were waiting, some passengers asked the cabin crew why our aircraft was held up. The cabin crew had no explanation. At that point, the Captain announced that we would take off after about 30 minutes. Hearing this, the passenger seated next to me called the flight attendant and started rebuking her loudly. She listened patiently for a few minutes, then left to attend to other passengers. My co-passenger continued grumbling. He calmed down after we took off. He then told me that this was the third time in the last couple of months that this inexplicable delay had occurred on the very same flight.
I told him that, when I had faced a problem with the same airline in the past, I had sent an email to the CEO, who had ensured that my grievance had been redressed in the best manner possible. I suggested that he should send an email about this matter to the CEO, but he replied that he was not very conversant with email. I offered to send the email to the CEO if he provided accurate information about the previous flight delays. He promised to have this emailed to me the next day. After 2 days, I sent him an email to remind him, but got no response. After 2 more days, I telephoned him, but he mumbled something about being very busy with work. There is a very small chance that I am wrong, but I got the feeling that he was not keen to put the matter on record.

All of us grumble in private. Many of us speak strongly to persons who are not in a position to hit back. Very few of us speak up to persons in positions of authority. Why? Do we need speech therapy or spine strengthening exercises?

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11 thoughts on “Speech Disorder or Spinal Problem?

  1. Yes, you indeed are a Proactive Indian. Continue the crusade.
    The two real life cases that you wrote about are of typical Indian mindset.
    They make the noise, ‘all sound and fury’ just to let off their steam at that
    particular moment, they may even go violent. When it comes to action at
    ground level, they develop cold feet and adopt a laid back attitude of
    chalta hai aur chalta hi rahega!
    I, for one, have always believed in taking the matter to its logical end by
    taking it to its logical end – Consumer Forum or the Ombudsman, and I’ve succeeded! .

  2. “Why buy trouble” is the almost all pervasive attitude which is shaping such behavior. In our recent Rotary Club Meeting we had an excellent speaker telling us about the Complaint Register available in all Govt. Offices. Understand this is rarely used, but if one does register in the Book, Authorities are compelled to shake off their inertia and act.

    Hopefully we will all change – Act/Speak up depending on the situation.

    • Our Municipal Corporation at Mumbai does maintain a Complaints Register.
      On enquiry the response is “Your complaint has been sent to the ‘concerned’ department ” and not the ‘department concerned’ where it is found to be languishing until you raise a hue and cry, file an RTI application!

  3. Really a great thought. It requires lot of courage to stand-up and say things which are not normally pleasant to hear. Great work.

  4. Pingback: All citizens are equal! | Proactive Indian

  5. That experience with the guy on the airplane would have frustrated me had I been in your shoes. This is something that is definitely not uncommon. However, there are people who lose courage to speak up because of prior experiences where they have tried but failed to bring about any change. It kind of leads to a lethargic attitude later on. Your post just reminded me to have a talk with an authority figure at my school about a cleanliness program I was thinking would be very beneficial. Maybe this was the push I needed. Thanks for sharing. Such firm, inspirational words definitely ought to be passed on to Indians across the nation. I salute you for taking the initiative to write this blog and not give up. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Yes, 2 freaking hours. | Sheth's Perspective

  7. Pingback: Why don’t we speak up? | Proactive Indian

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