Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ownership of Egypt

The amazing 18-day showdown in Egypt is finally over today: Hosni Mubarak has quit.

Of all the reports, opinions and commentaries on this issue, one of my favorites has been a column by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times.

Quoting the aphorism that “in the history of the world no one has ever washed a rented car”, he has written about an unfamiliar scene in developing countries -- a group of student volunteers cleaning up the garbage in Tahrir Sqare:
I went up to one of these young kids on garbage duty — Karim Turki, 23, who worked in a skin-care shop — and asked him: “Why did you volunteer for this?” He couldn’t get the words out in broken English fast enough: “This is my earth. This is my country. This is my home. I will clean all Egypt when Mubarak will go out.” Ownership is a beautiful thing.

It is just the kind of attitude which seems to be missing in much of middle-class India today...

Volunteerism, a sense of ownership... can it only come out of thirty years of pent-up frustration?


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