Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I protest!

My four years in Bengal did not go in vain. Some of that famous ’pratibadi chetna’(loosly translated as spirit of protest) has got into me . There is definitely something in the water and air over there that people protest on anything they find wrong. A good and aware citizen in those parts of the world is expected to know about the injustices and excesses on groups /individuals in the rest of the world and they happily protest for these excesses. The spirit is very visible in the daily working (and non-working) also.
Of late I found myself doing the same. In any case I was always one who believed in doing things right-if for nothing else then to gratify few and to astonish the rest (a la Mark Twain ). So far it worked well for me.To cite few incidents I once marched off my class (in 12th standard) because I found my teacher (a favorite otherwise!) was glorifying the kar seva and demolition of Babri mosque structure at Ayodhya. I just stood up and blurted out that I don’t think you should be teaching this in Hindi literature class and walked off. She was stunned but thankfully did not raised the issue again. Then once I fought with my batchmates during a train journey when they first used their government I- cards and then offered bribe to the ticket collector for few confirmed seats. Surprisingly they budge in to my bossiness. But in all these events my protest was very principled and calm. I never thought I can feel angry and frustrated with the ‘wrongs’. Things started changing once I moved to Delhi. As I wrote earlier on this blog, this city celebrates both Gods and Anti Gods and with same fervor . Nepotism, favoritism, power play by politicians is looked upto and when I crib on such issues, they look at me with surprise. I still find it difficult to accept the negative opinion of colleagues about sharing information, spoils system prevailing in the government and the faulty premises on which most important decisions are taken in the system. But for this post , I would like to note only my complaints in personal capacity. Surprisingly I find ample opportunity for that too, even when I often close my eyes to the daily excesses one witness on streets.( Finding a police car accepting currency notes from a rickshaw wallah or driver is not uncommon in NOIDA) . During my last train journey from Lucknow to Delhi I noticed that the service quality, cleanliness and even the food has gone down. I politely asked the train supervisor for suggestion /complaint book . He first asked me what I want to write. I said I am not interested in verbal complaints. He nodded and said he will send it. The complaint book never came, despite my reminded thrice and even going in search of it. When I was about to get down and IRCTC person came with a one page feedback form and laughingly said –you can write whatever you want on this. I shot back that I will now write an email to railways . He smugly replied-“As if anyone reads those.” I was so angry with the incident that I could not get peace till next morning when I actually send that email. Well, he was right…there is no reply. I still feel so angry about the incident .
Then the other day I was in Lal Quila with my nephew and niece and we found an ITDC run restaurant ‘Dawatkhana ‘ .They were terribly thirsty and wanted to drink something. When we went inside we found that the place was untidy and full of dust. There were about 4-5 boys in uniform but no one paid any attention to us. When asked they rudely said-“We don’t serve anything but water and cold drinks . “ The same reply was given to few foreign tourists in front of me. First I asked him to call the manager, to which his confident reply was : Manager comes only once a month. Then since the kids badly wanted water we asked for a bottle of mineral water. After 5 minutes of wait an old Bisleri bottle refilled with tap water was passed on to for double the charge. I was furious. When I started creating ruckus asking manager’s number, the fellow changed the bottle. I refused to let this go so easily and asked him to give me number of ITDC officials. He gave me a mobile number and when I called there the manager was not very willing to listen. Forced by the circumstances, I decided to reveal my official identity. The scene changed thereafter . The person with a polite tone started apologizing and insisting that I may not complaint against him. So much so that by the time we came out of the fort we found the boy who at first refused to give manager’s number was standing on the gate pleading that I should not complaint or he’d lose his job. They were not so worried when I as a common person I threatened to complaint. So much for our democracy!!! I find the entire episode very pathetic. Today I tried calling ITDC for launching complaint. There was no reply on the phone. No email on website . They just do not presume any complaint may come. I then wrote a letter to the Secretary concerned and am sending it my post (I told you the infatigueable pratibadi chetna!)
My net God Google reveled that there are many such harassed consumers and citizens like me and of course there are several fancy agencies doing the work of grievance redressal. But I wonder how efficient is the system. The common citizen still feel so powerless in front of huge sarkari machinery-railways or any other department.

4 comments:

VIJENDRA SINGH said...

Dear Sir,
As I belong from the management part of the ITDC ,I personally feels that an incident of this kind is failure of our organization on the whole & any apology will not be sufficient in regard with the incident.But on behalf of ITDC i really fell sorry for the incident & in the same i would like to thank you for your comments so that we can really improve our services for the next visitor...............we need your support at all times.............vijendra.

aviral said...

Dear Sir,

Being a part of the ITDC management team i apologize for the bad experience u encountered with at our Dawatkhana Restaurant.sir we are doing our best to uplift the name of the organization and to get back its past glory,in this regard your comment will prove to be a very valuable information to identify the problem and rectifieng it.i once again apologize and say thanks to you to bring this to the notice.
looking forward to your cooperation.

yours' sincerely,
Aviral Saxena

गुस्ताख़ said...

प्रतिवाद की क्षमता अब है किसमें, प्रतिरोध की ज्वाला रहनी चाहिए, यह एक जागते हुए इंसना के जिंदा होने का मैनिफेस्टो होता है।

MARCH said...

Have you read, 'My Experiments with Truth' by Gandhi Ji. It’s full of such experiences. The only difference is that the rulers were foreigners. But then too his complaints were heard and I feel that sometimes the co-operation he received from the authorities was quite better than.... (much before he became well known)
Please go through the book if you have not yet.