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Take the Ownership
Sep 28, 2005 08:37 PM 2973 Views
(Updated Sep 29, 2005 10:06 AM)

I work as an IT professional and in our industry we have a concept of ownership. The concept means basically this * When you develop an application or draft a document, you are the owner for that component. And being the owner for that, you are completely accountable for the output. In essence it means that while as an owner you get the credit for it’s success, if something goes wrong, you have to be prepared to take the rap also*.

To put it very simply you as an individual are totally responsible for what you own. And I am sure this concept is implemented in varying ways in other sectors. The basic concept of ownership is to give the employee a greater sense of responsibility.

Now what his this got to do with the topic which is about the July 26th deluge that hit Mumbai. Well quite a lot, as we shall be seeing as we progress.

Well a lot has been written on the July 26th  disaster that hit Mumbai. Well what has happened cannot be reversed, but we can see what needs to be done. For starters lets stop gloating over the failure of the Bush administration in the wake of Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans. That is not going to solve our problems. Its what is called a  “So what If I am not OK? You are not OK either” mentality, and a convenient way of escaping problems.

Though the topic deals with Mumbai, it could be any Indian city Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad or Kolkata. Indian cities get flooded even for a slight downpour and the July 26th deluge was something waiting to happen.

Now lets bring on the concept of ownership again? You have your own home, in effect it means you are the master of your home. Would you allow some one to dump rubbish in your home? I am sure if some one did it, you would probably give him a proper thrashing. Would you like it if the pipes leak, the current wires hang dangerously or the windows are not properly fixed? If such a thing happens, I am sure by now you would have been making frantic calls to the plumber, the electrician or the carpenter.

To put it very simply, you would never allow your home to get into a mess.

Why? Because you own the home, you feel it is yours.

Now think of a million homes together, that makes a city. And who owns the city, in this case Mumbai.

Politicians Certainly not. Most of the politicians are loyal to their own constituencies and they could care less what happens to the city. And one cant blame them either. A person elected from Solapur or Amravathi is answerable to the people there, and what happens in Mumbai is his least concern. As for those elected from Mumbai, they are more interested in fighting their ego battles and hoarding up whatever they can when they are in power. So the politicians care least for the city.

Bureaucracy . Again a big no. While there are certain committed bureaucrats who genuinely work for the development of  Mumbai, many are there just to while time while they wait for their next lucrative posting. And whichever bureaucrats are there are more keen on cozying up to their seniors or political bosses. They are just content to stick to their chairs, retire after building a comfortable nest egg and go back to their home towns, where they can write books and columns on why India is so backward.

Administration Many officers are on posting from other places. Very less likely to have a sense of ownership, unless they are settled in Mumbai itself. Couldn’t care less about what’s happening, as long as they receive their monthly paycheck.

Page 3 gliterati. Better not even expect anything from this bunch. They are more concerned about which exotic island to visit or which color of nail polish to wear or which party to go to. Their ownership ends at their house gate.

So who are the real owners of Mumbai then? It’s the normal ordinary people like you and me, who have made Mumbai their home. The clerk in the Govt office, the mill worker staying in the chawl, the teacher who teaches in your school or college, the executive working in the MNC or IT firm, your friendly neighborhood shopkeeper, the small time businessman, any person who has his own home in Mumbai, is the owner of the city in a way or at least a part of the city. And my advice to every one who has made their home in Mumbai is simple


The reason why politicians, bureaucrats or administrators get away with murder, is because ordinary citizens like us never protest. They take it for granted that come a disaster, there will be the usual media furore, the usual platitudes about what a resilient city Mumbai is and then things are back to normal till the next disaster strikes.

Mumbaities take the ownership of your city. You have lived here all your life, paid taxes, saved your pennies to build your own home that means the city has given something to you. It belongs to you. Would you allow some one to make a mess of your car or home? Then why should some one make a mess of wherever you stay.

While I admire your resilience and the way you bounce back after every disaster, that doesn’t mean you take every thing lying down. As a city Mumbai contributes a lot to the nation’s economy, is the financial capital of India and a destination point for many Indians. Such a city which should have been the jewel in the crown of India, is becoming a golden goose to be exploited.

But who is to blame for this state of affairs? Easy to blame the politicians, but who put those politicians there. Certainly not aliens from Mars, they were elected by you and me. And do we exercise our vote in the right manner? No. In fact politicians pretty well know that there is no penalty for non performance because many of us don’t even vote. And if we do, very rarely on the candidate’s performance. You elected an over the hill movie actor swayed  by his glamour, and what did he do? Just stayed cooped up in his home, when the floods hit Mumbai. You elected another so called Gen X leader, who had the advantage of his dad’s backing, and what did he do, write a column in the newspaper. Yes we elect non performers to Parliament and Assembly, and when they don’t deliver we curse. At least now when you vote, choose the right person.

And yes the major factor, civic sense. While the BMC is to be rightly condemned for it’s inability to clean up the city, as citizens are we any better. You wouldn’t allow some one to dump  garbage in your home. But you have no qualms about throwing garbage on the roads or tossing waste paper or plastic bags into the gutters. Why does Mumbai turn into Venice, whenever there are heavy rains? Its simple all the gutters are choking with the waste we casually throw into them. Try blocking all the drain outlets in your home for a day, and turn on the water. Your home will be flooded within hours. Now imagine this scenario being repeated over and over. The answer is the July 26th catastrophe. Yes it’s the duty of the BMC sanitary staff to clean the gutters, but as a citizen isn’t it your responsibility to keep the streets clean also.

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