On April 2, 2011, India won ICC Cricket World Cup. In an interview, Harbhajan Singh said they had set this goal for themselves four years ago. The team then worked consistently at it from that time. There is no doubt that they will start working towards their next World Cup right away.
While they slog, what about all the Indians who thronged the streets to celebrate this victory? What are they going to do to even deserve to cheer India four years later? Probably nothing.
Indians celebrate the country only when our cricket team wins a big match. Until then, the oneness of India does not seem to exist in our minds.
How much stake do we take in the building of India? Yet, the fact is, India can only be built by each one of us — each and every citizen. Dhoni could not have won a place in history if the other players had not put in their best. Similarly, India can only have a place of greatness in world history when we take ownership and responsibility. How do we do it? The first thing is really to think of India.
In whatever I do, can I see what the impact on my fellow citizens will be? Can we recognise the connection between a Rs 20 bribe and the decline of the traffic control system? That bribe ensures that the system only responds to bribes, making it impossible for other citizens to get work done legitimately.
It gets worse for citizens with humble incomes. Auto-drivers pay through their noses for licences. Meanwhile, we not only have a system that fails, we also have highly unsafe and unregulated driving on the streets — all because some of us decided to pay that Rs 20.
The second need of the hour is to be informed about our rights and responsibilities.
Constitutional rights are much talked about, but how about spending some time on Part IV A of the constitution — the fundamental duties. Take, for instance, the first fundamental duty: to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions. Only a handful of Indians actually remember what these duties are. This is like the Indian cricket team not reading the laws of cricket.
Let’s look at another fundamental duty: To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so. Loosely understood, this would mean each of us must defend other citizens in the face of danger or in the face of a law being broken. Yet, how many of us intervene when we see a woman being beaten by a family member or a child being abused? How many of us get out of our cars and lift that boulder that is blocking the road out of the way?
The call for change is all around us. The call for us to be a Nation. Let us listen to this call and act on it. Then, four years later, we will deserve to cheer the cricket team when they bring home another World Cup.
(Vinita Singh is a citizen activist)