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Governed as we deserve it

chandigarh Updated: Feb 08, 2015 15:49 IST
Khushwant Singh

If George Bernard Shaw hadn’t made the statement, democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve, I would have. Not to suggest that I am as brilliant as him or trespassing on his intellectual property right, but it’s writing on the wall no social commentator can miss.

The point I’m trying to make is that blaming the politician for every wrong that happens in our life, even if it is that broken tap in the bathroom, is not going to lead us anywhere. As it we the people who have trained the politician to misgovern us, we need to introspect instead of blame.

In other words, Shaw’s quote should be that trigger to sort out ourselves before cribbing about the polity. It is poignant enough for us to immediately stop electing politicians for caste, religion, class and selfish considerations. Rather, we should stop looking them as genies for quick personal gratification and benefit.

Oversight or overlooking?

This thought takes me to the Punjabi aphorism ‘marra jeha dekhlayio’ (just have a slight look). The phrase isn’t as weak as it sounds, but quite muscular and bullying by nature. In fact, such is its power that it sometimes appears to be the operational word of Punjab’s politics and governance.

Just the other day, I was sitting with a politico who was approached by his supporter with the following request, “ Ah marra jeha kam hai, I have a friend waiting outside the office of an officer so if you could instruct him to call him ‘marra jeha’inside. His gun licence is up for renewal so maarey jehaey daskath keraaney.” This politician who is very obliging by nature immediately called up the officer concerned and ordered the following, “Mr Phalana Singh is outside your office, please call him marra jeha inside and marra jeha sign his licence application.”

This is just a petty change example, but the aphorism perhaps has the power to change government policies, bend rules, effect transfers and so on. For example, one district of Punjab has witnessed a change of about seven deputy commissioners in the last three years. I am told whichever officer does not carry out the marra jeha work of the local politicians; he gets a marra jeha marching order pronto.

Small change

An unlimited supply of coriander and green chillies has been provided to Indian households, show me one household which has ever purchased hari mirch (green chillies) or dhaniya (coriander). It’s always, marra jeha dhaniya tey mirch vi paa dey.

Other variants of this phrase include the words tanik and thoda also, words we have used to ask people to move aside, even if it meant get lost.

So while procuring free green chillies is fine, we need to stop using this maara jeha with contempt, or, as per the French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville will keep getting the government we deserve.

The politicians in the Congress , SAD, BJP or AAP will not change till we don’t force them to change. So what if it’s marra jeha.