Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hollow Rhetoric

I have been listening to our leaders for quite some time now and I find their promises hollow and unimaginable. But there is only thing good about them – they are true pied pipers, who know the art of taking people to destinies they want to. They play their tunes so skillfully that even the most wretched and dejected are carried away in a new hope and in search of good days. But have you ever seen the plight of people changing in the last so many years?

Yesterday I read in the newspaper a chief minister vowing to change the “thana (police station) culture,” because he was visiting a police training establishment. Then I find another minister visiting a hospital and he assures the gathering that cheap and meaningful treatment and patient care will be given to the poor. At the opening ceremony of a school, the minister announces that his government has vowed to make every citizen a literate in days to come. And of course the minster for power assures people hard hit by load shedding that load shedding would end soon.

But aren’t these the same hollow rhetoric we are tuned to for the last so many decades? Our police stations continue to be the hub of torture and indecent behavior and their “culture” continues to be unchanged. The “chitrol” thing continues unabated despite an uproar recently, which died its own death and no one talks of it anymore. The government hospitals are a case of another kind. Ask those who cannot afford to go to the private hospitals that what happens to them in the government hospitals and you will have an outburst. These hospitals are the most unhygienic, understaffed, limited facilities and no medicines. The medicines provided to the hospitals, meant to be given free of cost are either sold off in the market by the hospital staff or even sold to the patients at a price more than the market. But our ministers still continue to provide better health care facilities to the people whenever they visit such a place.

Education sector is the hard hit of all. Children in rural areas study under the shade of the old trees (may those who planted these trees be blessed for their plantation is serving their grand children today), while the nearby government school building is wither too dilapidated or is used by the local landlord as his stable. Yesterday I saw footage on a TV channel, in which an ox driven cart moved right in between the children sitting under a tree and hurriedly moved to sides to make for the cart, as the cart man didn’t have the courtesy to go round the class. The attitude of the government towards higher education can be seen when it diverts the funds for higher education for other needs. The future of education in a country where hardly 3-4% of the total budget is spent on education, and that too diverted later for other projects, can be conveniently guessed. Yet the rhetoric of providing quality education to everyone continues. I once heard a governor of province saying, “We NEED to provide meaningful free education to every children of the province.” And the vow ended there and then as it was just a promise like so many other promises that remain unrealized.

We are in the habit of making tall and unattainable slogans and make them with such a resolve that even the pessimists are carried away. Our education continues to be the one of the lowest compared even to countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

When the earthquake once hit Besham in the 70s, it was vowed by the then prime minister that quake proof houses will be built for every house that crumbled. The generous aid from the world community however vanished from the coffers and the people yet again made mud houses. And I am sure the very houses would have fallen again in 2005 earthquake. The same promises were repeated again in 2005, which have yet to be realized even after a lapse of five years.

The floods this year once again brought in the fiery rhetoric by almost every politician. Plans have been chalked out to make “model villages” with facilities that perhaps are not available in some of the most developed countries. And you and I know that these model villages will never come up and instead the mud houses on self help basis will dot again in the flood hit areas. And where would the money and the slogans go – I need not elaborate.

I only wonder what makes a politician. Aren’t these from the same country? Don’t they feel for the plight of the people they rule over? How can they sleep in their comfortable homes provided by the government or maintained by the party funds while people whose votes brought them these comforts rot in their lives. Are these immortals and have no fear of a life hereafter? Is our law to helpless to rein them and compel them to serve the nation and the people? Who will plan and implement the same for the well being of the masses? Perhaps no one, for now at least.

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