Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Country that Cares

Singapore is a country where citizens really try to make a difference to the way things are run. They are proactive for sure, and when they voice their concerns, it is evident that they are heard immediately and prompt action is taken.

Quite a bit of whatI know of their efforts comes from the newspaper distributed at the train stations on weekdays. 'My Paper' is an extremely praiseworthy attempt at keeping the people of this country abreast with the happenings, and a platform for themselves to alert one another to things of note and be on their toes all the time. You never know who might be watching and chastising you for your misconduct in public, so you always have to be careful about how you behave lest you should find yourself in the newspapers for doing something gross or not abiding by the rules.

From students who vandalise or treat people with contempt to people who refuse to give up their seats on the train to those who need them more, appreciation for people who work hard (recently, ladies who distribute the paper at the stations were lauded by readers or their friendliness), road accidents (of course, there aren't too many of them, because rules here are stringent), or regulations that citizens might have a grouse against, the paper carries reports on them all. And it isn't just regional in nature. While the primary focus is on happenings in and around Singapore, there is quite a lot in it about China and India as well, key players in the world now, and regional superpowers. Recession, business, sport, music, television, cinema, some light, heartwarming writing- indeed a good way to pass time on the train. The team behind the paper is pretty young and enthusiastic, and  I am sure everyone there works really hard on making it what it is- a clean, kitsch-free paper, and a far cry from many of the 'urban' supplements we have back home, which seem to thrive on Page 3 sensationalism or yellow journalism.

What is most impressive is how people really care and try to make a difference. Of course, it helps that those at the helm of affairs also listen to them and try to address their problems. No pompous speeches, no chaotic politics. This is clean, exemplary governance. Singapore is said to abide strictly by its laws. If stringent regulation is needed to keep things in check, so be it. They are a hard-working lot and their efforts show in the precision with which the country is run. Life here really spoils you to the extent that I sometimes dread having to come back home to work in the dust and the grime- and you know what I mean by that. However, we are probably not as callous as we were, and I am sure things are changing for the better. Optimism helps.

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