Published on November 26th, 2012


Do your job, do it NOW

Jatin Sharma writes on our collective tendency to not make those who serve us accountable for their (lack of) duty.

Jatin SharmaI’ve been writing on several issues – public apathy, making a tamasha out of a funeral, celebrating festivals over mobile phones. But today, I am writing about a domestic issue.

Please don’t stop reading. Sure, other people’s domestic issues are very boring, but I need an intelligent head to help me out here.

A month ago, my maid didn’t turn up for work. She didn’t even inform me about her impending leave. I was quite handicapped as all the household chores were now my problem. I didn’t do them as I thought she would turn up the next day. But she didn’t arrive the next day as well. So, juggling my office schedules, I finally did all the housework.

But laziness made me sit out one more day. Plus, my mind started playing with questions: I had hired her to do my housework, I had never been late with her payment, I had always shown her consideration, so why did she treat me like this? My thoughts made me so adamant, I decided not to move a finger till she showed up next.

Three days later, she arrived unannounced. By now, the house was a pigsty, and I was about to burst with anger. I asked her how she could leave my house to be dirtied, to be infested by cockroaches and spiders. She reacted to my comments as if I was playing Mozart to her – with only half an ear on my voice. Realising that she was not paying any heed to me, I became angrier and made myself clearer. Or rather, I laid down a few rules: if she failed to come to my house for work and also failed to inform me that she wasn’t coming that day, I would deduct the day’s dues from her salary. Further, if there was the slightest deviation from these rules, I would fire her.

I can’t see someone dirty my house. If I don’t lay down the rules for her, she will feel free to act with impunity and leave my house open for filth and pests. Don’t you agree?

And if you agree that I should be stricter with my domestic help in order to discipline her, I am sure that you will also agree that we need to discipline our public servants. I am not saying they are domestic helps. But I am quite appalled by the way our public servants are currently working. They have no fear of retribution and some of them, like the police, are creating no fear in others.

I was reading the story of an acid attack victim the other day, where the attackers were caught after two months. They were given a mere nine-year jail sentence, and they secured bail after just four months of being locked up. Even after the attack, the criminals had the audacity to threaten the family, while the girl’s father was trying to seek justice. Of course, justice was denied – shouldn’t punishments be able to stop crime? – but I don’t think it made any difference to the criminals’ lives.

I was so irked by this story and the so-called public servants responsible for the mess. But this happens because we as a society have failed to make our servants work. They have been shirking their duties and sometimes denying to perform them, and our failure lies in not performing ours.

Our failure in getting work done from our government is quite shameful. This is a country that is considered to be intellectually enlightened, and this is the same country where everyone boasts of sanskaar, pratishtha and sammaan. But our ‘intellectual enlightenment’ makes us decide things on the basis of which side of the equation we are on: the victims’ or the victimisers’. If we are a victim, we talk about the crappy state of this country and its laws, and want to raise a voice. But if we are the vicitimisers, then we very conveniently let the law take its own course and see to it that it doesn’t.

We may try to bribe, modify and influence people’s opinion. For the sake of love and emotions attached to our loved ones, we pressurise the judicial system and use our influences. We let public servants become our puppets; we become the puppeteers who make others dance to our tunes.

I could go on and on, but let me just say this: why do we wait to support a matter of justice only when we are victims? Why don’t we raise our voice when somebody we don’t know is seeking justice too? It is just gossip when it happens to our neighbours, colleagues or peers. Why do we say, ”Mujhe kya karna hai?” or “ Yaar, ismein padke koi faayda nahin hai”?

Things can work when we make our system work, when our public servants work properly. Today, those meant to serve the public feel that they can do whatever they want to because we are not making them accountable for their work. We are simply shrugging off their ineptitude. It is time that the masters take charge and start controlling the servant better. If we are not going to act like a responsible master, our houses are going to be infested by much worse than cockroaches and filth.

Jatin Sharma is a media professional who says he doesn’t want to grow up, because if he grows up, he will be like everyone else.

(Picture courtesy outlookindia.com)

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