Friday, March 20, 2009

I happened to mention earlier about attending a panel discussion on the power of media at the Ethiraj College. This had happened a few weeks ago and one of the questions that was posed to all of us by the moderator Mr Gnani - When did you feel powerless being in the media? At that point in time I did not have answer. I did not even know whether that would apply to me the singer. Because there I was only answering questions as a singer.
But now I do. Every morning on Aahaa Kaapi Klub is a dream come true because it gives me a feeling that I am actively contributing to some sort of a change in the city and the society. I have a faithful audience, an even more faithful set of callers who pour out their woes and offer opinions on how change can happen. I have somehow believed that if we keep saying the good thing, the power of word will manifest into action sooner or later.
But this morning was like a kick in the gut. One of my regular callers came on air to say that no matter what we say or discuss nothing is going to happen in this city. Asking him why gave me an answer that I didn't believe I would hear. He reminded me of the day that the Corporation Commissioner of Chennai came to the show and said he would take action on all the complaints that the callers registered. And he did. I was a witness to all the calls he kept making while songs kept playing and even called people who were outside his range of control. And the same caller that I am mentioning now, called that day again, to say "Thanks - I have hope that something will be done with regard to my issue, as the corporation has followed up". I haven't felt that happy too often in this short lifespan. And today he happened to mention that yes, the call happened but no action has been taken. As someone who genuinely wishes and wants to do anything as a law abiding citizen to make the city a better place, it crushed the hope that I had that things can happen in the city.
But then its not the Commissioner's fault. He did his duty to let the other employees of the corporation know and also followed up a couple of times. It is those under him who did not do the work.
Another personal instance yesterday when I had to take my car for an insurance claim cause I rammed into one of those makeshift concrete slab medians (that are hapazhazardly piled up in the middle of the roads, which are also shifted and removed by the respected citizens of Chennai according to their convenience) while trying to avoid one of those share autos who cut in like a maniac. If I had not rammed into the median perhaps my car door would have gone for a six. These buggers coolly shout out to you "claim insurance!!" as if the guys at the Insurance company are just waiting to settle claims. I take my car for service asking for insurance claim, people at the car company say I need a police certificate for this case. I go to the station, I am told that I need to pay a bribe to get a police cert. Now all that I do is say I will come back. I have by then decided that I am not going to bribe. Like I have said on my show, bribing is a two-way deal. I'd rather pay the bill at the service station. At least those guys seem to be doing their work. No insurance will be claimed but the silver lining is I get an NCB.
But before, you the reader starts commenting that we are cheated out of our taxes, or that I can probably afford to pay for the damages of my car and how most people in India cannot, or that's why bribing will thrive, let me offer my humble opinion.
If there are officials in the Government, Corporation, Electricity board and whatnot asking for bribes and not doing what they are paid for in the first place and probably whiling away their time, like shown in Anniyan, we the citizens have allowed such people to work for us. By, us the complainers. The cribbers. Because people like us don't work for the corporation or the country cos hey its not worthwhile or its below dignity. So at the end of the day, we are to blame.
Perhaps Superman or Spiderman none of them can help. Not even God. Lets enjoy being Indians, crib some more and eventually pass away from this country after a lifetime of cribbing.


Luis Portugal said...

It has a nice blog.
Sorry not write more, but my English is bad writing.
A hug from my country, Portugal

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the TASMAC issue in residential areas with the Commissioner. He has probably directed his team to act but there has been absolutely no improvement.
I am not sure how you fight these goons?
And, I know exactly how you feel about these insurance. I have had a similar experience.

Dhanasakthi said...

True, we have to ignore some things if we need to make a peaceful life here. Buffaloes may help in anniyan to work against evil, but only buffalo skin would help in regular life.

Doozie said...

Hi Chinmayi,

Changing the habit that is deep rooted in indian system is very difficult.
I have been to few govt cos. We will have to do their work. They will only be ready to check and sign the papers.
Then why the hell are these people are paid when they do no useful work?
Dont their inner feeling hurt
But we are also responsible for this menance.
It is hard for us to change and to change the system.
If you will shout against this you will only get hurt.
Be true to the system and move on..

Dont try to change..Be the change

Hoping for a better India..


Shankar said...

This is what happens:
Phase 1: Angry young man/woman...insults/bad mouths the society for 'their' irresponsibility.

Phase 2: Hot young blood decides that they should do something...raise awareness...react...question and challenge.

Phase 3 : They get into a muddle...throw their hands up...either conform totally..or a resist a few times before falling back.

Phase 4: Resign to fate...this is Kali know. Everything has been foretold...humans will stoop to be discordant maggots feeding on the decayed with no virtue whatsoever. All the negative virtues will be a having a flare of their time...through the billions of puppets that dance to their tunes.

Do I have a solution? Nope
Can anything at all be done? Am still looking

In a land(I mean the WORLD...not just India) where everything is on sale...from college seats to Court Judge seats...if not anything else it sends a shiver down the spine.

I remember..reading somewhere...that you should neither be the Whale or the meek Salmon...but instead a Dolphin who knows how to avoid the Whale ...yet is joyous and not fearfully escaping the Whale always!

If Dolphins can do it ...can't we? Or can we?

Sundari said...

"திருடனாய் பார்த்து திருந்தாவிட்டால், திருட்டை ஒழிக்க முடியாது."

Vinitha said...

Hats off! Do not bribe or influence anywhere at any cost. That mental satisfaction is too great, anytime.

Note - I spoke to a traffic cop in Chennai, about bribes and he answered that the salaries are too low from govt. So to keep up with inflation (real!) and expenses, some other form of income is needed.... not everyone does this though.

Moral - Govt. has to give good salaries and benefits to cops, to take care of public.

nutnandu said...

Crib some more indeed! that is what we and the previous generations have been doing. We can only hope to change that by inverting our opinion and mindset about the government organizations.
About avoiding/rejecting Govt jobs, I think it more related to the payscale than dignity.

great to see your frustration seeping through in this post. seems as if my thoughts also have found a voice :)

Cognizanze said...

hi chinmy...
Eventually it may b true frm vitue of one side.But still there is a gr8 hope amongst this "growing population" personal thing from heart,being so responsible and leading upfront more than a talented n gifted singer, u have taken the responsibility to speak on-behalf of us, so i wish only an optimistic moves can make a better feeling to others. Am a regular listener of Aaha Kaapi Klub(but am sry,i havent made any active contribution because of virtue of my work been engaged at that point)

But there may be a big question mark,in all our faces like,"when this will end?" The answer is "it will come to end" and the time can only be judged by the number of people those who turn up for the right cause - "jago rae!!!" i have an idea,(probably it may be too primitive to state this here)a get together forum could be organised for the like minded people can help to share the idea,and also to resolve the problem...

Kudos to your move...and continue to contribute!!!

Swetha said...

Hi,chinmayee..nice blog.even a well known person like chinmayee is asked a bribe..what about a common man???there is so much of corruption which has gone deep rooted nothing can be done..if i am not bribing him some one else will do..that is not a good feeling..if you voice out your opinion in public ,you are seen some one abnormal..i wish i had the power to transform these people..usha

பட்டாம்பூச்சி said...

We have developed a kind of mindset to live with these things :(.

MuSiC SoUl said...

hi there...:)...Yep..If we want to see some change,we should refuse give in to situation and stand our our firm points..By the way how was your himalaya trip?:)

Ragavan said...

You have your 'insurance' episode and I have mine - bribe for my mother's death certificate.

Birth and death are supposed to be registered for free by the Government!

I am sure everybody has minimum one and ready to blame somebody.

Our 'affordability' and 'stress level' at that point in time decides what we do.

Mostly everybody succumbs because fighting the system is hopeless - where do we start and where do we stop???

And in the process of 'succumbing' do we realize we are the helping the system thrive????

Bur because we succumb, we want to take it on the next person - a kind of a 'pay-back' and this vicious cycle goes on and on.

We are all taught at school and told at home that all our ancestors were 'truthful' people.

Our national motto is 'satyameva jayate' - truth alone conquers.

And look at where we are today.

Assuming what we were taught and told is true, between then and now a 'real social revolution' has happened and we have become a society for, by and of the most

Atleast the majority.

The problem is we are not truthful to our own self.

We pride in our self deception - we are 'right' and just about everybody else is 'wrong'.

And we are indifferent to the core.

Our sense of 'perspective' is amazing. As long as we don't do a "Satyam", we are being truthful!

The present day typical Indian concotion is a heady mix of indifference, self deception and truthlessness - in varying proportions - according to the situation and convenience.

There has to be a system to address this situation and it has to start very early and at the very root, maybe at birth.

Lot of public interest messages all over the media - saying Don't smoke / Don't spit/ Don't say lies/ Do your work etc. may help.

This may sound elementary and laughable - but for people who dont realize these basic things in life, we have to be told "on the face" - the more the number of times, the better.

And there has to be the fear of punishment. Nothing works like fear. Enforcement should become priority and people caught offending have to be punished - swiftly and soundly. Maybe throw in a bonus - "shamed in public" also.

Societies that have recognized this and done it have done well.

"Intelligent" societies like ours which have just kept on discussing and hoped 'self control' can work, have just been stuck up at that level.

Bottomline - Our so-called 'intelligence' is our biggest enemy and threat.

We adamantly stick to what is just a perception - that we are intelligent. While actually we are not. In the strict sense of the term.

The sad truth is we are plain dumb and incorrigible. Otherwise we will not be what we are today.

SHAN said...

Hi Chinmayi,

Be carefull while you drive in chennai roads its with full of stupid auto walas and call taxis



VJ said...

Hi Chinmayee,
I am really impressed by your concern and care to make this world a better place. The bribe issue is really a problemetic one and must be somehow solved or not it will have very dire consequences. If only every human being is like you doing what they feel is right and try to make a change in this world. This is the first time I am commenting, after reading the issue on bribing i was like 'wow' at least someone is trying to do something and i wanted to convey my gratitude to you for addressing this issue. Thank You. All the best for your future.

VJ :)

Maddy said...

I wish you got the police certificate,without bribing....

As someone commented..

Our 'affordability' and 'stress level' at that point in time decides what we do......

We don't fight for our right even sometime.

Karthik said...

Not on the bigger issue, but as far as I know, you don't need to get any Police certificate as long as there's no third party damage. I've had my car hit the median once, tree once, bus once and a maatu vandi dented my car once. On all these occassions, I claimed insurance without a Police certificate as there was no third party damage.

And yes, once when my car hit the invisible median in Venkatnarayana Road, three people on a bike celebrated and shouted something like "That bugger deserves it" even though I didn't know them or have to do anything with them.

Pradeep Raj said...

Hi, I must say that we are improving slowly. I read a news item in the newspaper today about a traffic constable asking Rs.500 as bribe to prevent confiscating a person's bike (he didn't have his insurance papers). He somehow informed the DVAC officials and the constable was trapped and remanded. Recently DVAC has been doing a great job. We need to improve the awareness among people about such agencies (DVAC, Lok Ayukta etc) which are doing commendable job of eradicating corruption. Such things are certainly good to know. But are only the government officials corrupt? No, most of the common people are also corrupt - "Morally corrupt" . Very few people want to work at the grass roots level. Most of them want to work for themself (though, a few better souls work for their families as well). Very few people want to work for the country.
That is the reason why "Unqualified" people become leaders in this country and qualified people serve them. People vote for these leaders. Why? Because the leader belongs to their own cast. Some people even take money to cast theit vote. Now, isn't that corruption?
We can't expect to eradicate corruption by a mass movement, on a single day. It has to come gradually. In chunks. I think individuals do make difference. Chinmayi, you refused to pay the bribe. You made a difference. The guy who complained to the DVAC made a difference. It is instances like these which can bring a silent revolution and transform the society over a period of time. I hope individuals keep making such "differences".

- Pradeep Raj

Jim Translation Services said...

That's India for good and for bad. You will not change it, so why not enjoy it?

Barath.M said...

Hi Chinmayee.
I accept ur point. it is we the citizens hav encouraged such acts and it is not easy to go back. i feel we the citizens should be more socially responsible..

Anonymous said...

Why dont you do a show about this?
I am sure Vijay TV will be willing to do it. Each episode will be bribery involved in getting a drivers license or getting a birth/death certificate etc... I am sure it will create a good avalanche effect.


Anonymous said...

Change is wrong word...All Chennai needs is Inspiration...

Give them one first before Judging...Everybody keeping Judging and concludes this it it.

Tell me where is incentive to change ...once Judged and Branded !!!

Not many have travelled outside chennai...They were born and seen chennai like this forever and they need something more than few movies names to think and see things differently...

Chennai People Can Do Better ...Anytime...Anywhere...Brand Them!!!

Dr.Raja said...

This is the first time I am leaving my comments. Like the film Indian quotes it's only here we have to pay bribe for even normal process of work, leave alone paying bribe to get unlawful things done. Last year during my trip in Europe spanning few countries, none of the public transportation(trains,buses,trams,metros) had a conductor to issue tickets and ensure everyone bought one. Every passenger bought tickets in kiosks or from the driver and used them. I found not a single soul trying to cheat the system. Similarly, not willng to pay or demand bribe must become ingrained into the mindset of every Indian. If each one of us pledges to act in a right way then all of these problems might be curbed.

Kamesh said...

Chennai suffers from what is called as "Excusitis". People dig deep to find the best excuses to avoid solving problems and avoid doing work. We need to ask ourselves again and again - "So how do we solve this problem?". The answer lies hidden too deep under our collective lethargy.

That said, Chinmayee. Your approach should be to start the change by adopting a small street or area, show to the world that you and your listeners can set that right and then others may want to join you and widen the area. keep in mind to be inclusive and not to alienate anybody. Take the nay sayers into your fold by asking them for the solution and making them part of the solution. You have the reach, the power and willingness to do it. Like said in Geeta and Nike's motto, our motto should be "Just do it".

nisa said...

wow,, i have to tell u,, as a regular reader of ur blog.. your blog is really very inspiring!

Anonymous said...

What's an NCB?

crazy me said...

What do you mean you can't do anything about your situation with the police offier who is demanding a bribe??!! I am surprised that you are sounding helpless. There are officers to whom you can complain ( | |, there are websites you can lodge your complaint at ( you will see some immediate enquiry, maybe even dismissal. You have the right to get the police certificate (you deserve that fairness) and if someone is unfair to you, you better fight back! This is about fighting for your your justice.
You know this whole system of democracy is built on checks and balances,...the check comes from people like us. If someone is violating the law and you are affected you need to alert the system. Only then democracy will work. If we all tun our backs and throw our hands in the air and start paying from your pockets instead of letting the insurance pay for you (Then why go for insurance in the first place? Why waste money on pemiums?), then we are the reason why democracy fails. This is not about affordability, this is about fighting for the truth and being a responsible citizen. I don't think you should give up yet.

Archana said...

This is atrociously allowed to creep into our lives. We ar so used to be comfortable, and live a happy life that we dont mind payign a extra penny. And to add to the sadness, the wrold frowns at you when you put your head forth and fight. About two years back, me and my brother had to get our passports renewed. We has chsnged reseidences, and a police personnel had to verify our present place. He came, saw and made a note of some thing. And my mother promptly gave him a crisp 100 rs note, telling him to finish the matter at the earliest. I was aghast. Why had she to pay him even before he asked?. She said - to ensure fast service! Unfortunately, she was right because the passport arrived sooner than expected, whereas mine took about 2 months more!.SAdly, we are so used to pay. And I would say there is no point in cribibng and still comtinuing to live that way!

Jayamurugan said...

Hi Chinmayi,
Its fine that you didnt give bribe. But the problem is there are still lot of people who think giving away money can do any wonders for them.
Also, the awareness I feel quite a lot of people but how many of them can assure that they will not give away money for getting things done? I think if majority of the people who are listening to Aahaa Koffee Klub can follow by not giving bribe, that makes a difference.

I hope that will happen atleast not in near future but will surely. I am so confident because present younger generation are very clear in not supporting bribe. Also, media should take a major responsibility in imbibing this to all the class of people.

By the way, what happened to NGO formation?

Abdul said...

hi chinmayi,
I agree that we cannot change the city or its people. i don't remember the last time a paradigm was set in. however we can change ourselves. leavin alone the end result or the difference we as an individual will make to the society, each one of us must make an attempt at honest living. at least the ones who've commented here.
it is quite easy to say however its very difficult to practice. but even if we fail to be honest once or twice we've to keep trying.
after all honesty is just a matter of habit.

பிரியமுடன்... said...


என்ன கமென்ட் புரியலையா?!!

ஒரு ஆயிரம் ரூபாய் கொடுங்க
தெளிவா சொல்கிறேன்.....ஹ..ஹா..ஹா...

sahitya chaitanya said...

We do not need superheroes but we just need beautiful minds. How will we improve while we dont even measure what matters for the improvement? We should start measuring Gross happiness product instead of Gross domestic product and all concerned authorities performance should be measured and graded on that. Making a call might just be a job and so is following up few times. But i wouldnt say that the job is done.

Ranga said...

I did say that until we, citizens of India, pledge that I will not bribe on any situation (even if you are in the dying bed) corruption, bribe is not going to stop.