Amith Prabhu: Liberation is what we need!

17 Aug,2015

By Amith Prabhu


We completed 68 years as an independent nation on Saturday. On last Thursday and Friday I travelled to Mumbai. My journey had three components and throughout the journey I was reflecting on our life in a nation which is soon gearing up to celebrate the 69th Independence Day.


What transpired on the Metro train I took from Gurgaon to Delhi, then the experience I had at the airport before I took the evening flight from Delhi to Mumbai and finally the auto ride from Mumbai airport to Bandra for my meeting was quite astonishing. This may not be the typical Public Relations column. But basic common sense and mutual respect is how we grow as a nation in an ongoing public relations campaign with one and another and the world.


The metro train I got into was full, as it always is with space for standing passengers only. On a following station a heavily pregnant woman entered the general compartment and came and stood in front of a fairly young man hinting that she needed the seat. He began to look the otherway. After a few seconds she asked him to make place for her and he immediately gave up his seat. She alighted four stations later and another man who had seen how she got her seat quickly parked himself on the vacant seat to everyone’s bewilderment and the man who was originally on the seat and the woman just watched as this trivial incident unfolded. I asked the man as to why he pounced on the seat when the original occupant was right in front of him and he replied that the original occupant had no right over the seat because he did not initiate the offer. Weird!


Next, at the airport I stand in line for the security check and the queue does not seem to move at all. That’s because the CISF personnel at the monitor has got up to check a bag that has liquids thus preventing movement of the x-ray machine causing a long wait. These are the inefficiencies with which we function. After watching the spectacle for a few minutes I asked another constable as to why he could not monitor the screen to avoid a pile up of passengers which led him to action.


I’m not going to devote space here for passenger behaviour before take-off and after landing. That will be a separate column. The way we want to occupy everyone else’s cabin luggage space and then rush for the exit door upon landing can be a novel or feature film. Less said the better.


Finally, I landed in Mumbai and took an auto. Now the auto man starts riding away and refuses to put down the meter. He has reached the main road and argues that I should pay him a flat Rs 250 when I’m aware on the meter it does not cross Rs 150. I insist on him putting the meter and he insists on dropping me mid-way. Well, after mutual threats I reach my destination and pay him Rs 150 which he refuses but finally moves on with the cash.


Three incidents in a span of 10 hours in three cities on three different modes of public transport. We are yearning for progress and are proud of our independence. But where is the value system that takes us towards complete freedom? When will we become a liberated nation? How will this change? Who will take the step towards making lives and things better?


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