Here's the entire range of responses from people who face misgovernance in India. The responses are listed in order of the response with the feeblest impact to strongest impact. This list excludes joining the corrupt governance system or working as a clerk to the corrupt leaders of India.
- Do nothing, say that this is 'fate', or 'this is India'.
- Join an internet group (e.g. Facebook) – basically a useless activity unless you do something well beyond it.
Focus on specific case
- Whinge and talk/ write about it to a friend e.g. on email/Facebook.
- Whinge and write about it to a newspaper (e.g. my letter to editor, Time – and I published perhaps about 200 letters to newspapers 30 years ago, mostly non-specific, i.e. on general issues)
- File an RTI application
- Help trap a particular corrupt person (e.g. video him/her) (I trapped some corrupt people during my work in the IAS)
Moving from specific case to the broader issues:
- Tinker with education of a few children, or some such 'practical' project, hoping that your work will 'make a difference'.
- Teach others to file RTI (e.g. Arvind Kejriwal)
- Write an article explaining the causes of misgovernance in a magazine or newspaper (e.g.Reform the bureaucracy (my article in Times of India) | My articles in Freedom First.)
- Write a book explaining corruption and misgovernance (professional economists/writers) (e.g. Breaking Free of Nehru/ Discovery of Freedom)
- Set up a think tank to preach the message of good governance (e.g. India Policy Institute, Liberty Institute)
- Create a political movement and implement policies that will eliminate misgovernance (Freedom Team of India / Freedom Party of India)
As you will note, I have spent most of my time – particularly as I have grown older – focusing on actions which will yield the largest impact: after realising that trying to change small things (or individual cases) simply won't help: it is like removing one piece of rubbish from a dirty nullah while others are pumping in huge amounts of rubbish from behind! You have to stop the INFLOWS of rubbish, not the individual rubbish.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Indians still insist on the most ineffective use of their time: by doing useless tinkering around the edges.
Let it be clear to all Indians that tinkering around the edges will NOT make the slightest dent to the system. I suggest that they think more broadly and strategically. I suggest that it is vital for us to get the biggest bang for the buck from one's time.
Let me repeat: There is NO long-term value in focusing on tiny issues – even things like RTI. The governance system in India can be easily reformed, once the people's mandate exists, to ensure that RTI type things becomes irrelevant.
All we need is sufficient number of good leaders to defeat the bad leaders that rule India. Why not just do that and finish this whole rigmarole or jhamela? Why suffer poverty and misgovernance for even one minute longer? Why tinker at the edges?