All citizens are equal!

In my post Speech Disorder or Spinal Problem?, I had said, “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?”

Hence, I was naturally delighted to read a report in The Hindu that, when Union Minister K. Chiranjeevi and his family tried to jump the queue at a polling booth at Jubilee Hill Club, a voter, Raja Karthik Ganta, objected. Mr. Chiranjeevi apologised with folded hands. He and his daughter stood in the queue for about 25 minutes before casting their vote. During the melee, however, Mr. Chiranjeevi’s wife and son exercised their franchise. IBN-LIVE reported that Raja Karthik Ganta, a Cambridge-based IT professional who had come all the way from London to cast his vote, later said, “I respect Chiranjeevi. But he is not 65 years of age and he’s not disabled, then why should he be given special treatment?”

I am not sure whether Mr. Chiranjeevi would have apologised and stood in the queue had it not been for the Model Code of Conduct. Politicians in India are notorious for displaying extreme humility during elections and complete arrogance between elections. However, if more “common persons” speak up whenever the occasion arises, politicians will be forced to display humility, if not actually become humble, even between elections.

I must mention that there are quite a few Indian politicians who are genuinely down to earth. A prominent example is Goa Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar. Please do read this report in The Hindu and this blog on IBN-LIVE about his austere ways.

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24 thoughts on “All citizens are equal!

  1. Sometimes the thought about what others will think if we do this or that stops many from doing the right thing. Inspiring post! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • I think most people put up with the high-handed behaviour of the rich and powerful mainly due to the fear of the person hitting back. Secondly, there are always people who will defend the offender. In this incident, one person spoke up, while the others were silent. The minister obviously read the writing on the wall.

  2. Speaking of speech disorders, one of India’s greatest jurists and author of taxation tomes, President of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Indian Ambassador to the USA, Nani Palkhiwala used to stammer as a kid, he later turned out to be a great orator who could enthrall lakhs at the Brabourne Stadium to analyse the Union Budget section by section without even a piece of paper in hand for years.

    • It is not speech disorder that prevents people from ‘speaking up’. It is only the fear of retaliation. Every ‘common man’ must understand that supporting the person who ‘speaks up’ is itself a way of ‘speaking up’. If many people ‘speak up’, change can be brought about.

      (I just realised that I’m giving a mini-lecture on ‘speaking up’ to an expert in ‘speaking up’!!)

  3. Kudos to Raja for doing what he did.Glad that he spoke about it rather than accepting it or grumbling about it later!!

  4. This incident is highlighted everywhere..and good too….Even in my family few people have this attitude of being rude to poor and respectful to riches..and how I detest that 😦

    • It happens all over the place. The rich are deferential towards the richer, and the powerful are deferential towards the more powerful. Most of us have seen photographs of ministers and/or bureaucrats falling at the feet of their Chief Ministers.

  5. Good to see you writing about this, Pro. Once my husband had a discussion/argument about something similar with a prominent leader of a national party who barged in the office of a famous specialist at AIIMS for a very simple check-up for a very minor problem, while a crowd of patients with much serious concerns were waiting outside for their pre-scheduled appointments with the doctor. And this politician kept the doctor and much of his staff engaged for more than an hour and a half, (and of course tea and biscuits were served in the doctor’s chamber), while the people outside just kept waiting. And when my husband, who was there waiting for his mom’s check-up, confronted this leader and reminded him that it was callous and very irresponsible on his part, the leader just smiled, nodded and walked away! Well, I suppose for some power-crazed people, not all citizens are equal. What a mockery of democracy we play out in the society, that’s what I think sometimes! But hey, it is always good to hear of an inspiring story howsoever it plays out – with or without the fear of Model Code of Conduct 🙂

    Beauty Interprets, Expresses, Manifests the Eternal

    • Beloo, it was good your husband spoke up. Even if it did not change the situation in the doctor’s office that day, just seeing a ‘common man’ speak up to a powerful politician would have had a positive impact on the others in the office and, perhaps, inspired them to speak up in the future.

  6. Have immense respect for Parikkar despite not being a BJP supporter and we need more men like him to deliver, whether tackling drugs in Goa or taking on Tejpal. The courage of citizens like Karthik should be lauded for standing up for everyone and time for citizens to lead the way. I mean, its very easy to criticize the country saying its unclean or corrupt but what are we doing to be the change. A small gesture such as keeping our residential area clean is something we can do like residents of Bandra at Bandstand do. Very interesting post:)
    Cheerz

  7. Well I still say every politcian is SAME , some may be good but the system is such that they got to become bad..

    the problem is the people who are supposed to make sure law is upheld the officers in Khakhi they are themselves corrupt and need help of politicians for plumb jobs and transfers , so they dare not say anything .

    I have had so much problems , i had a small work in a bank so i went and stood in a queue , I had just sold my property and there was a LOT of money in my account, i had gone to convert it into a fixed deposit .. so i stood there while everyone was coming from left right and centre..

    No one was giving a damn , people are so selfish and the same people who were coming from left and right are the SAME people who shout hoarse and cry when it happens to them .. which is what makes me laugh..

    anyway after about an hour there was thig person who probably saw me standing while everyone was getting their job done, he probably felt embarassed.. called me to ask what i wanted .. All i said was “Want to Close the Account” ..
    and this was gentleman who was a manager and quiet elder to me , should have seen his face .. HE WAS PLEADING WITH ME TO NOT DO IT.. as I said it was a BIG amount.. I just said did you see how long i was in queue and now you are begging ..

    I changed banks

    maybe thats what we all need to do .. CHANGE the leaders .. change the ways things work

    • I have dealt with many nationalised, private and foreign banks in India, and I find that some problems are common to all banks.

      You didn’t like your bank, so you changed your bank. Was the new bank any better? Did anything change in the old bank? I think you should have tried to change the situation in the old bank itself. Since you had a BIG amount in your account, the manager would have listened to you. Whenever I have faced such situations in any bank, I have politely asked the manager whether (s)he will change the situation or whether I should take it up with the higher-ups. This works like magic.

      Don’t like my bank? Go to a different bank!
      Don’t like my leader? Elect a different leader!
      Don’t like my country? Migrate to a different country!
      Don’t like my child? What do I do?
      We need change from within, not the kind of change you have spoken of.

      If our young child keeps crying, don’t we try to calm it down, find out why it’s crying and then remove the reason for crying? In the same way, we must work, individually and collectively, to ensure that our banks work properly, our ‘leaders’ work for us (not for themselves) and that our country improves. Running away is not the solution.

      • You are right… but I had 10 days only in india ..
        Moreover I have changed myself I stand patiently in a queue awaiting my turn.. i am not pushing or trying to get some uncle to phone the manager that I am coming.

        It works for you the polite talk.. my next post will show you how I have been harasses because of the polite talk I did.

        The examples or the questions you have asked are they in any way related there is a lot of difference between not liking a situation in a bank.. and liking your country to liking your own child..

        How can you compare them with the bank situation..you won’t be able to get within 2 feet of your prime minister to ask him to change the situation if you don’t like your country.

        It is not running away.. It is making best use of what you are paying for..

        A maid or some service guy who is not doing the job properly and one is paying for the services. . What would one do keep asking politely for them to change.. or would one change ..

        A company manager who has hundreds of employees will he keep asking the one guy to work politely .. and keep paying him the salary.. or will he be given an ultimatum or asked to leave..

        I am paying for a service and I expect a good service if not i will go to someone who will give a good service..

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