Continuing on the theme of civic sense in America – sometimes last year, the Columbus Metropolitan Library was facing budget cuts due to the recession. One day I received an email from the library explaining the whole situation and asking me to contact the governor’s office if I felt the budget cuts were detrimental to the library system and the community it served.
Even at that time I was quite impressed by this. Such a campaign would be unthinkable back in India. Switching libraries with another public service that Indian people actually value – public transportation – it is still unthinkable that a) the public would actually come to know about the budget cuts b) that some of them would be organized enough to stage a protest c) that they will not be ‘punished’ for joining the protest.
‘Punishment’ is a huge deterrent in India. Given that we all got emails from the library and the protest was on the front page of the website, I’m assuming that at least some library officials were involved with the protest. In India, I can’t image office holders to get involved at all. Because as soon as they do, they’d be punished – transfers, suspensions or verbal admonition from their bosses.
So what makes protests of this sort possibly in the US? Does America have a cleaner system where such punishment isn’t meted out? Or does it have more courageous people who don’t really care about what happens to them? Or is it that corruption still happens, only that this façade of fairness is maintained to appease the general population?