A Letter to Dr. Kalam

I remember being 13 and believing that I had discovered the root of all the problems that Indians faced. I was positive that our nation’s greatest plague was the Corruption that surrounded us; not just the ones that we read about politicians, but also the ones that we see in the mundane activities around us that we have come to accept as a part of our life in this country!

Yes, I was young and naïve and believed in making a difference. I assumed that wiping corruption from our country would be as simple as pressing the backspace on my keyboard, as if it were just that spelling error that nobody had noticed all this while.  The then President of India came up with an initiative to get students to write to him, and he would reply to some of those letters. My juvenile heart was brimming with hopes and idealism and I liked to believe that, one day I would succeed in moulding the reality to look more like the utopian society I saw in my head. So, one fine evening after I had finished all my homework for the day, I sat in front of the desktop consumed by the sheer potential that my letter to Dr. Kalam encompassed.

I sat there for the next half an hour, drafting my letter that gave a complete of the problem and detailed the possible solutions. I cannot remember the exact content of the letter, but I do remember that I let the President know that I believed Corruption was what was eating away our nation and keeping it from achieving its goals. I expressed my concern about the apathy that most people showed towards corruption. I wanted him to focus on ensuring that the laws are strictly followed by my fellow citizens, and I asserted that there is truth in the clichéd statement of ‘little drops make an ocean’ and that we must work on removing corruption at the grassroots level. I described how I tried to prevent a Policeman from taking bribe and how I reported an incident of cheating during exams in my school.

For the next couple of months I checked my mail regularly hoping that there would be a reply from the President telling me how refreshing and thoughtful my letter had been. The first month I awaited a response, I was confident he would get to replying the next day. Slowly, the enthusiasm started ebbing away. And over the course of the year it ceased to be the most crucial thing to look forward to. And with it, some part of me lost the drive to fight corruption.

The next 4 years of my life were spent in an island nation that was famous for low crime rates and for how expediently things got done there. People often get the impression that I must have gotten too used to the convenience that the other nation afforded me. However, what they fail to realise is that every time I make a comparison, it is NOT filled with nostalgia of the ease that India has been unable to emulate, the contrast stems from my agony of this very disability that India displays.

Around 2007, I came across an article in Newsweek detailing the tremendous growth that India was displaying. It talked about how the hard-working middle-class society was fuelling India’s growth. As a middle-class Indian, I found some hope still, in bringing about the changes that I always dreamed of in my childhood. The determined middle-class Indian forging his own path to success made me believe in my letter to the President that I had sent a couple of years ago. I decided then, that India is where I shall head to at the end of my education there! I was resolved to bring about the change I had dreamed about all those years ago.

So, I returned to India and got into a National Law School. At first, my attempts to change the attitude were faced with stiff opposition paired with a stinging statement of, ‘Welcome to India!’There were times I wished I could throw a stone on the head of some of these individuals (It’s sheer self-restraint that has kept me out of prison so far!). Indians today seem to have taken on the role of people who sit in their comfort zone and criticise everything that is wrong with their country; ask them to do something about it and they will tell you how they have more important things to worry about (Clearly, that includes sitting around and criticising!). The other day I had a friend text me to find out if there was any legal remedy if the vendor at his college’s canteen was constantly over-pricing the products. I replied to let him know that he could warn them about taking it up to the Consumer Forum. A few days later I asked him if he had followed up on what we had discussed, he replied saying, ‘No. I had just asked to see if I was right!’

The apathy that I am faced with sometimes makes me feel the need to run as far away from India as possible. That is when I realise it is all the more reason for me to stay on and work towards the goal I set for my motherland, all those years ago.

Do not be under the impression though, that I support Team Anna and their struggle to pass the Lokpal Bill. I do not think more laws and statutes is the solution to the problem of corruption; it is in the inability to enforce the existing laws that the integral problem lies. Moreover, having these huge mass of people take to the streets in opposition to the government they elected into power was to me, vaguely reminiscent of my experience reading Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’; it would have been utterly hilarious if it had not simultaneously been so disheartening! For the sake of the future of my country, I hope the Indians wake up from their sleep-walking. Soon.

I do not expect a complete overhaul of the system. I only ask of you, to be honest in your dealings. I only ask of you, to not pay that clerk some extra cash for doing what he ought to have done anyway. I only ask of you, to not bribe that traffic police-man the next time he catches you for driving without a helmet. I only ask you, to do what you should already be doing. Would that be too much to ask?…

This post is an entry for the stayfree ‘Time to Change’ competition. http://facebook.com/sftimetochange

5 Responses to “A Letter to Dr. Kalam”
  1. Maya says:

    Well, I’m at a loss on how to answer this ‘very genuine’ question of yours.

  2. Superb post here. You at least deserve that Kindle!! 🙂

    Here’s my 2 cents – http://eatpraylovemovies.blogspot.in/2012/04/my-2-cents.html

    Do drop by 🙂


  3. Sampath Cool says:

    Nicely written
    Well done yaar..cheers for the article :).
    Also Check out mine.Give your comment on it.
    Are Hijra’s(TransGender) not a Human being.?

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  • April 2012
    M T W T F S S
  • I, Me, Myself…

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