In today's situation it's very difficult to find a village where people remain united. During my last vacation I visited such a village to which one of my friends belongs. The village in fact is part of an old town having a NAC (Notified Area Council). Most people of the village are rich farmers. Many houses even have air conditioners installed with electricity available round the clock.
It is also unique that no thief had ever entered into that village. Local political parties always gave this village utmost importance and if there was any grievance of anybody from the village, such grievance was in fact redressed with lightening speed by concerned government department or even by the politicians.
Every evening the villagers met at the village pandal (a meeting place). During this meeting minor day to day disputes among villagers were amicably solved so that there should be no lingering enmity between anybody. Bi-weekly, generally local politicians, government authorities and other responsible people were invited to the village for discussions on various issues of the village mostly on development of the village.
I had heard about these things earlier, thus I was in fact very curious to see this village. Such an ideal smart village is always an example for the country. So during these vacations I visited this village, where my friend very happily welcomed me. We first toured the entire village where I saw that the roads were in an excellent condition and cleanliness was unparalleled. The NAC sweepers never missed cleaning the village. The schools were also in an excellent condition and had full strength of teachers. In nutshell, this village is really the smartest village in the World, as I felt.
My friend said that all this became possible due to the unity among the villagers. "If you have unity, even God has to come down to address your problems'. My friend said in a philosophical tone. I had to agree with him and started thinking why other villagers always complain against authorities for poor services without maintaining unity among them?
When my friend was showing me his entire house, I noticed that they were using an electric heater (not induction cooker) for cooking, although a gas stove too was available. I asked my friend why didn't they use an induction cooker, which consumes less electricity in comparison to a heater? His answer really surprised me.
He said that it doesn't matter how much electricity we consume, as we have to pay the minimum charge. To further clarify, he showed me a secret switch which they used to cutoff the meter line, once the meter registered the minimum units. That meant that the meter is bypassed for balance use of electricity. I was really shocked.
"How can you do this?" I asked.
"Do you know if there is a checking, you will be penalized heavily apart from being embarrassed in such a smart village."
"Don't worry my friend," he answered.
"The same system is used by every villager here, and regarding checking, who can dare to go checking in this village? Everyone knows how we are bypassing the meter. In fact the electric department taught us to how to bypass the meter."
I was really speechless for the moment. Then I asked, "Why then do you keep LPG connection?"
"Well it's for emergency situations when there is an unavoidable load shedding," he confidently answered.
"Additionally such connection is beneficial to us financially too," he said further.
"How?” I asked.
"It's (DBT) Direct Benefit Transfer. We earn some extra money in that scheme," he said.
"But DBT is really not intended to allow anyone getting unwanted benefits," I asked with utter disbelief.
He smiled like a winner and then said,"You know, we are smart people, we know the ways and means to take maximum benefits from any scheme. In the LPG case we give our account books to an agent, who sells the gas cylinders to whomsoever he wants at whatever charges. The direct cash transfer of the subsidy comes into our account the moment the cylinder is sold from our account. Yes the agent sends a cylinder whenever we need it, without any delay and at par with the government subsidized rate."
"You and your co-villagers are really great, what a unity to utilize smartness in a negative direction?," I expressed in a humorous tone.
"What's negative in it man?," he said in an angry tone.
"Point is simple, unity and smartness should always be used to observe better citizenship. How can you use them to loot national property so blatantly in the name of unity and smartness?," I questioned.
My friend remained silent for a moment and then said, "See, all the stakes holders of this nation are indulged in looting in some way or another. Had we are not united, these authorities would have looted us like they are looting other villages."
"Looting?" I wanted to interject.
"I use the term looting just to symbolize all sorts of illegality, such as asking for bribes, favoring someone for same interest etc. Even when you vote, you vote for cash or kind. Politicians make money, so do the bureaucrats. Whose money is being looted? It's ours, the common people. That's why we decided to take back something. What's wrong in it?" he replied.
I preferred not to continue with the debate any further. He definitely had a point, but should it be called smart?
One thing is for sure, you may implement whatever system to check loot, but people will keep finding ways to defeat that system. That's really unfortunate. PM Modi must think seriously before dreaming of smart villages and smart cities!