Commonman Loves Caring Leaders
15 September is the UN declared International Day of Democracy.
“On this International Day of Democracy, I call on leaders to hear, respect and respond appropriately to the voices of the people, whether expressed directly or through elected representatives”.
- Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Recently, I had a serious issue with a government office that greatly affected me financially on a regular month to month basis, as my benefits given to senior citizens under law were drastically reduced. I cannot say with certainty whether it arose because of routine beurocratic red tape or racial bias of a particular officer, but the fact is that in spite of my repeated requests and clearly proving my point from the rules of law concerning my complaint, the official was not ready to reconsider the case and I continued to bear the extra financial burden. It was then that I suddenly thought of seeking help from the elected Senator from my area – San Francisco – , though very certain that politicians, particularly a leader of the stature of Diane Feinstein, would hardly have the time to hear or look into personal matters that are of little importance from their perspective. And you know what, She not only responded to my letter by return mail from Washington DC but also directed an official of her San Francisco office to personally pursue my case with the concerned officer. In her reply she not only assured me that she would remain concerned with the issue till it finishes to my satisfaction but also thanked me for bringing it to her knowledge. It was no routine reply form an elected representative to his/her constituent but a sincere effort to help the sufferer, I can truly vouch for. After exchange of four letters with me and the the administration and personal followup by her staff, she ultimately succeeded to resolve the issue to my full satisfaction by restoring my financial benefits to the fullest as per rules. And I was just an ordinary citizen, and that too an immigrant, who hardly could raise his voice in this vast land, far away from his homeland.
Another unforgettable experience that I always cherish in the U.S. Is my exchange of letters with Former President Bill Clinton, During eight years of his presidency, I wrote several letters on varied subjects to President Clinton, and I am proud to possess his personal replies to each one of them. His replies were much more than mere acknowledgments of my letters; they reflected how much he valued the views of others, especially of the common people like me, whom he cared for and placed above others. President Clinton's second term in office ended the same year he visited India, and with that ended my most joyous moments of finding in my mailbox envelopes from the White House. However, the unique experience of corresponding with President Bill Clinton remains my most rewarding experience in life, and his letters my most valued possessions.
Here is an exceptional case of a caring leader from our own country where most leaders are come in contact with the common man only at the time of elections:
Alok, our son, had done all that he could do to go to the U.S. for studies – getting good scoring in SAT, acceptance at the University of San Francisco for undergraduate srudies majoring in computers. Now it was our turn to approach the government for permission to remit fees in foreign exchange. The concerned officer in Reserve Bank of India outright rejected our application, advising that we send our son to a college in India. It was a hopeless situation after so much of effort put in by our son, but we had not given up hope. In one of her repeated rounds of Parliament House reception restaurant to seek support for our cause from some caring MP, Inderjeet, my wife, had a chance meeting with one such MP from Mumbai, Ratansingh Rajda, absolutely unknown to us. Though from the Opposition, he happened to be very close to Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister. He personally pursued our case with the FM and got us government permission for payment of fees in foreign exchange.
Bill Clinton, Diane Feinstein and Ratansingh Rajda are amongst rarest of the rare elected leaders in any democracy. The world will be a better place for the common people when most political leaders follow the example in caring for the common man.