Infrastructure: Falling and Failing

There is no way to adequately express our anguish at the devastating fire in the tuition class at Surat, where 22 young students lost their lives .  Fire tenders arrived very late…the hydrant water could not go beyond 2 nd floor while the fire was raging on the 4 th!..Even the ladder on the fire tender could not reach beyond the 2ndstory. The fire tender was not carrying  even a  net to catch  and save the students jumping out from the fire.

Just a few weeks back, a 62 year old lady doctor died while visiting a museum in Mumbai. The lift she entered in to at the 1stfloor, collapsed while she and her daughter were inside. The staff had no idea what to do and kept fumbling with the lift buttons from outside.  The daughter has survived with serious injuries.

A few weeks prior to the above, a young boy walking on a footpath fell in to a huge drain as the manhole lid that he stepped on  flipped open! Fortunately, his mother ,who was walking  behind her, yelled out for help and the boy was rescued  in time against heavy odds.

After a few days of the above incident , Samir Arora, a highly celebrated fund manager based in Singapore, fell in to a drain while alighting from his car in South Mumbai through an open manhole. He twitted about the horrendous experience in trying to come out of the deep hole and the hell!!

The collapse of the Foot Over Bridge at the VT station in Mumbai,claiming several lives is also a very recent disaster.

One can go on and on ….The readers can easily add many more  such incidents which are happening in their surroundings   ..! Indeed, the frequency of such tragedies is rising exponentially. 

The common thread in all these ‘man made’ calamities is the lack of accountability facilitated by corruption. A belief has firmly set in  that you can always confuse a situation by blaming one another ..and in the process the litigation can continue for years ..without fixing the culprit. You can pay your way out at every stage of the investigation. This has emboldened the officials to compromise on their vigilance ,once their pockets have been adequately stashed by a willing businessman !. There is no conscious that bites..there is nothing that makes them feel guilty..there is no question of any repentance..”Ye duniya men rehana hai to ye sab to karna hi padta hai” is the normal refrain!

Is there any hope for the situation to improve? Can we expect one Modi to save us from all this?

The answer is an obvious and a  resounding NO.

The root of these problems is the fast eroding value system in the society.  Greed makes a person blind to the consequences of the disastrous actions that one is lured in to  committing.

I often say that Values are the principles that we want “others” to follow! All of us end up compromising on values in some way or another.

In our schools and colleges we learn all subjects: Physics/Maths/ Chemistry/Law/accounts …..the list is increasing by day.

But do we learn how to live?

How to live in a way that we follow rules..that we discharge our duties to the fullest..that we respect every one’s rights …that we do not do anything that harms others….that we show some kindness to the misfortune of a fellow being…

Are we made to realize that even a highly educated and decorated Rajat Gupta (ex head of Mckinsey) can fall prey to greed and lose everything that he has earned , including reputation?

There is a strong need to introduce Value Education in our schools and colleges without any delay.

It is only when a critical mass of children, in whom such values are imbibed ,become young citizens of the country ,that the tragedies of the kind described above can be prevented in a sustainable way.

The process will take time..may be 15 ..20 years…..But we have to start NOW.

At least , we will have the satisfaction of  having done something for the good of the next generations.

Let us also keep in mind that the basic Values are universal and are common to all religions. Let the ‘secularist’ lobby not resist any such reform !

There are organisations which are ready to guide this Swadhyaya Parivar, Swaminarayan, Art of Living, Isha Foundation, Brahma Kumaris..and may be many more which i am not aware of …the need is to support their efforts ,in whatever it is possible for us. 

13 thoughts on “Infrastructure: Falling and Failing

  1. Harish Guttikar says:

    Very true…. The failure can not be just put on to any one political party or person… Erosion of society value system has made such situation…
    The other day in Varanasi, Namo said on habit of eating Paan and damaging city walls…. We ourselves are damaging environment…
    Coming finding solution for such situation… It reminded me of one article about Japaneses education system…. The complete childhood up-to 4th Std is devoid of roto but imparting values, respect to elders, doing ur own work, helping concept etc… This has made today Japan where honesty is in their blood… May be we need to go their way

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      Thanks very much for your very prompt response. The Japanese system of education , indeed, is a good example. We ,as a country, will have to work for one or two generations to make the shift..For such efforts to sustain , we need a strong /dedicated citizen’s group which is apolitical.

      As a small part, we can at least create an atmosphere in our families where values are valued!

  2. Vikas Shirodkar says:

    JL brilliant piece. You make some very strong points. As middle class families we were bought up in a milieu of values and ethics and i believe that significantly diffrentiayes us from the new GenY. Having said that i just also say they lack the direction n not the will. When they know what is right i have seen strong commitment in Gen Y also to walk the path. We already have lost significant time. Akela modi kya karega….so we need to acceptvresponsibility n create strong structures….only thing which worries me are the RamRahims n Asarams and,Ravi Shankars who want dependency and not independence. The best model would be where we encourage indep thinking and let evey person take a call on what is right. I have faith in that internal meter which tells us all what is right and what is,wrong. If we are able to suspend the control of head over heart i am sure Value based decision making would rule the roost.

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      thanks Vikas.
      it is indeed sad that RamRahims and Asarams of the world have taken away almost the last refuge for the terms of some form of faith.
      i also feel that over a period of time, with constant bombardment of the negatives all around ..and seeing that corrupt are ruling the roost, the ability to decipher right from wrong is getting blunted.
      the current issues are more with our generation than the Gen Y. Those who are approving wrong plans for money as well as those unscrupulous business people are mainly from our generation.

      As u rightly say , the Gen Y certainly have very strong conviction about what they want to do. Gen Y also has shown strong liking for the likes of Modi who have a clean image and appear to be less corruptible…

      and so there is some hope!

  3. Dilip Vaidya says:

    You have put your finger on the value system and expect organisations such a Swadhyaya to teach young about the value system to stem the rot.
    But the problem is much deep rooted to have such a simplistic solution
    Taking the example of fire in Surat. It is not that municipalities do not have laws on fire protection but the problem is that these laws are more than 100 years old and have not kept pace with new urbanisation and even techniques to fight fire. On top of that the rules are so complicated that even authorities who are supposed to monitor their use do not know the intricacies of the rules and the logic behind them. Multiplicity of jurisdiction is another problem.
    A general lack of competence in all spheres is at the root of the many of our evils. I call it crisis of competence. It can be seen in simple things such as education. You hardly come across well trained competent teachers. Our chalta hai and jugaad mentality and living for today not bothering what happens tomorrow only compounds the already miserable state of knowledge. On top now the current dispensations disregard and contempt of so called western education will make the matters worse. Making homoeopaths full fledged doctors with some “bridge courses” is a case in point.
    Yes, value system definitely needs improvement but again here it is likely that western education and values would be subverted in favour of so called desi wisdom purportedly flowing from ancient times. The rise obscurantism in the name of ancient wisdom will pull us down even deeper.
    I am sometimes dumb struck to see the state of affairs. We certainly need a thorough reboot but I do not know how this will happen.

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      Thanks Dilip for your thoughtful inputs.

      Lack of competence is definitely an issue. But building four floors , when permission was for just one, does not happen out of incompetence. It happens due to greed and unscrupulous intentions. And not catching such builders is also not out of incompetence ..but out of connivance .

      Old/ archaic laws are certainly a big stumbling block in bringing clarity in taking decisions.
      We , cannot , however, disregard that even simple laws are flouted for some /kind/whatever.

      i think the basic values are universal .all faiths have the same insistence on values. I agree that there is a danger of the western education being subverted …and we have to be careful on that …but the same may not apply to values.

  4. Meena says:

    Brilliant and thought provoking.
    Long and tedious task but agree it has to start in small steps somewhere. Teaching moral science in schools is great but it also needs to reiterated daily at home,in our communities for fostering that type of collective consciousness. Also public and positive reinforcement of a good deed. Usually if someone kills 20 people then the media and public discuss this horrific deed for 3weeks while if someone went out of his way to help another individual in whatever way, often there is no mention or may be a small blip in the corner of the last page of your news paper. Hence giving even more strength to the negative…which is a stronger force any way

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      yes Meena..some very valid points

      the home environment is also very important in imbibing values..remember how we all used to have family prayer sessions in the evening ..with Papa always wanting you to recite ..”humko manki shakti dena” !!and Baa reciting “ab sonp diya is divan ka…..”

      Media ,of course , is a big culprit spreading negativity

      But that is what people want! they are just catering to the”customer’s needs”!

  5. Nikhil Buch says:

    The malaise stems from humans seeing others from a transactional point of view . Unfortunately in today’s day & age where everything appears to be measured only in money terms, people seem to have stopped being humane.

    In my view , which admittedly could be simplistic, the moment people value human life & humanity things will change.

    Unfortunately today almost all of us are Anesthetized … we have stopped feeling pain when we see the helpless homeless , those who live in squalor & die young of disease.


    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      Thanks Nikhilbhai.

      i liked the term ‘anestheized’..that indeed is the case.

      we are in deep coma and jolts like the Surat fire wakes us up….

      we wake up for a while and then again back in to our comfort zone…till the next shock!

      That said, emphasising and re emaphasing the need to imbibe values is the only way that i see.

      • Nikhil Buch says:

        I do not think that the Surat fire has jogged human conscience. The one time I have seen people empathize is in the Nirbhaya case. But this too waned with time.The point I was trying to arrive at is that it is the infrastructure of humaneness in individual minds that needs to be fixed. The physical infrastructure is just a symptom of the deeper malaise.

        • Jagdish Shah
          Jagdish Shah says:

          the diagnosis is absolutely right

          the big question ..which has always remained is..HOW!..hoe to fix the deeper malaise..and that is where the imbibing of values comes in to play

  6. Nikhil Buch says:

    Imparting sanskars and inspiring people to explore spirituality in their own way could be effective & sustainable means of sensitizing people’s attitudes. Both these tasks are daunting in the present day. A simpler way which could make these steps easier is to make it mandatory for school going children to participate in sports. The benefits of this simple step are enormous .. with both winning & losing evoking effective emotions

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