Tuesday, July 17, 2012



This happened sometime in the early 1960s when I was a small boy. We were travelling by train, going to our hometown for our annual vacation. The train stopped at a smallish station and an elderly man entered our old-style first class compartment. He was dressed in white khadi and he politely asked my father if he could travel with us till the next stop, a railway junction. It would be just a 20 minute journey, he said. My father welcomed him in and he came over and sat next to me. He carried no luggage, just a newspaper.

Soon, the train started and he made some polite conversation, enquiring about us, and then asked me about my school and my studies. I was curious so I asked him who he was.

“I am an MP,” he said quite unassumingly.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I am a Member of Parliament,” he said.

“But what work do you do? What is your job?” I asked.

“My job is to look after my people,” he said.

Seeing my confused look, he added, “This village, the place I got into the train, is a part of my constituency. The people there have a water scarcity problem, so I had gone there to see for myself what I can do to solve their problem – I will try and get a bund or a tank built there.”

Then he began talking to my father about the backwardness of his constituency and the work he was trying to do to improve the quality of life for his people.

There is one sentence he spoke which I still remember: “If every MP looks after his constituency sincerely then the whole country will automatically improve.”

That is the essence of democracy, isn’t it?

If all elected representatives sincerely serve their constituencies and work for the betterment of their constituents, then the nation would automatically progress.

Over the years the values, principles, ideology and philosophy which epitomize democracy have undergone a sea change and although there may be a few elected representatives who still believe in serving their constituency, by and large, the dictum today is “self before service” rather than “service before self”.

Dear Reader, wherever you live, look around and see, and ask yourself: “Is  your elected representative (MP, MLA or Corporator) sincerely looking after his constituency? Is he genuinely interested in the welfare of his constituents? Is he making a significant contribution towards improving the infrastructure and quality of life in his constituency?”

If your answer is yes, please comment and tell us about the good work being done by your elected representative.

If your answer is no, well then it is time to ask yourself a few questions.

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