The use of this prepositional idiom led me thinking into a deep, deep dark abyss. It was as if I would never be able to come back! Such is the deep chasm between what we promise and what we implement that as I set upon thinking, I went down and down this vale which finally I felt was bottomless. The promises on paper and the actual line of action are many a times in reality just parallel lines like railway tracks never meant to meet each other in an embrace.
It starts with our politicians who make tall claims at the time of elections. Their party manifesto reads like a utopian dream and even though the voters know that many of these things would just remain on paper, they vote in or vote out governments with the supreme hope that at least this party would comparatively bring more items into action from the on paper manifesto than the other party.
Then comes the bureaucracy who nevertheless of which party is in power are the real rulers who enjoy the strings of power over the public directly. The politicians make the law but its proper implementation with the correct measures remains totally in the hands of Bureaucracy where a lot remains to be desired.
Then we have the Doctors who do take oath to serve the humanity but start serving their Bank lockers loyally. On paper, they and their hospitals promise a myriad of facilities but it takes the eventuality of becoming a patient to see the authenticity of their claims. Same is the case with Builders who give us our dream houses. Their brochures transport you into a world where we feel that it will only be next to the concept of heaven; but to our utter dismay, when we have emptied our hard earned money to buy that dream apartment, we learn that the promises on quality and facility were only on paper. Not only do we learn that some of the facilities are totally missing and that the idea of super built-up and actual carpet area is mind boggling,, you realise that the ceiling and the walls which at least should have been high-quality are on the other hand not even leak-proof. In exchange of our hard earned money, the builder has ensured that we can enjoy and even measure the centimetres of rain our dear city has enjoyed. Much more exasperating is when we learn that the Jaguar bathroom fittings are a far cry from the original, even though the spelling is the same and the electricity fittings and the doorknobs have been installed with all possibility of clinging back to you on use. So the builder’s brochure is tall promise which only remains on paper.
Next is our system of justice which has so many laws on paper but the way to enact those laws and reach the beneficiaries is so arduous that many give-up. The law on Paper heightens their hope but the barriers in the court process slowly and surely makes them realise that the carrot of the law on paper is very good but to go and eat it is a difficult process.
Then we can have a look at our education system. We are producing graduates in different faculties but are we creating thinking individuals who can do research and create new things? Because that’s what we had promised on paper in the first place. We only create degree holders who will look towards the government for employment and not only decrease GDP but also increase crimes due to their joblessness. The other day, I was leafing through the new books published for twelfth standard and I was amazed at the learning outcomes promised on paper for a student who will pass in English in their HSSC examination. But year after year, we have been meeting twelfth passed students in their first year of BA graduation, only to know that they cannot even express a single sentence correctly in English. The amazing thing is that they cannot even give their own introduction in English properly. So we again are saddened to know that a big gap between what is promised on paper and what is actually received by a student exists in our education system. An engineer passes with flying colours but when the campus interviews are done, the company realises that their marks are only objects of beauty on their mark sheets but the technical graduates neither have proper subject knowledge nor the required communication skills to express them.
Our story of research is no different. When we submit the synopsis, we show promise of true potential for breaking shackles and finding something new or hitting upon some invention but our conclusions tell the same story which has been traversed by so many research scholars before. Here again, the divide between on paper and in action is clearly visible.
Our world of advertisement is a fairy world where even though we know that the promises made by the product companies are not true but the attractive style of presentation lures us into that ‘willing suspension of disbelief ‘and we end up buying the product. We say to ourselves what’s the harm in trying it once! So a cream or a soap may not make us fair or young or a soft drink may not give us courage to undertake wild adventures or a fancy car may not win us a nice girlfriend but we still believe this on paper wordy histrionics and help the economy of your country by buying these varied products!
The biggest culprits who have a wide gorge between what they say and what they deliver are the slimming potions and immunity boosters. We read the advertisement and the on paper words swim before our eyes to form an image of our attractive self- who will be complimented by everyone and who will fit into the lovely dress we had always dreamt to wear. Then the immunity booster medicine brochures use the words cleverly into cheating us into believing that we will be suddenly transformed into a healthy individual who has a kavach(guard) like Karna around him and no disease and its germs will be able to penetrate that guard. But sadly when we start taking those immunity boosters, we realise that slowly we are losing whatever natural immunity our body had and we realise that the words on Paper had again played games and made us a loser.
Now we have the addition of social media where people are forwarding messages on Paper to each other. It is as if everyone has become an epitome of perfection and has procured the right to propagate wisdom. But Alas! When we actually meet these disseminators of constant wisdom, we are shocked that they are not practising even an iota of what they have been preaching all along. This reminds me of a story once told by a guest speaker in our college. In the story, when a lady approached Ramkrishna Paramhansa to advise her daughter to abstain from sweets, he decided to first observe abstinence from sweets himself before he preached the girl to control her desire of sweets. Such is the example of genuine people. They only speak what they can follow. There is no gap between what they say and what they follow. Even Gandhiji experimented himself with his beliefs all his life before he wrote his autobiography ‘My experiments with Truth’.
We write articles, essays, stirring stories about climate change, environmental hazards, animal abuse but seldom do we start with ourselves about initiating anything of what we offer as solution to the world. It’s always the responsibility of others to do that. So its high time to ponder whether only our formidable words would bring about the desired change unless and until they are put into action?
Our marriage vows are also maximum on Paper and minimum in action. We promise each other sharing, caring and unbridled love but actually we are found to only nurse our personal egos. The lofty promises a wooing lover makes to his beloved are eons away from the actual implementation he or she does after marriage.
And last but not the least, the show of superficial patriotism we make by deleting apps which is easy but would we be able to show the same kind of patriotic fervour if we are caught in a demanding situation should be our daily introspection.
So the gulf between what we say or write on paper and what we actually do is the reason for the corruption, mediocrity, or the sorrow which we experience. So like Rabindranath Tagore dreamt of having a place where the mind is without fear- in the same way, let each one of us not only dream but make efforts to bridge this gap between what we promise and what we actually deliver and help create a far better world to live in than we actually have now. So let’s start building the bridges to cross these gaping valleys and genuinely lend our contribution to make India a booming economy.