Cooperative Housing Societies – Is it a misnomer?

I live in a cooperative Housing Society in Mumbai. It is a society formed by 3 different wings of our housing complex – each wing having 30 odd flats. The business of conducting the affairs of the society is carried out by a so called Management Committee of which I am a member. The committee meets once in a month and therefore I am forced to take part in the great ‘Tamaasha’ enacted in the name of a meeting.
One has to see the proceedings of the meetings to appreciate what I am going to narrate below:
Recently I attended a management committee meeting called to discuss a very important and urgent business. The main agenda of the meeting was to take technical and commercial decisions on repairing leakages in the building and painting subsequently. It is both important and urgent because the job has to be completed before the onset of monsoon.
As it generally happens,the first person arrived about 30 minutes after the scheduled time of the meeting. Several phone calls later,people started trickling in one by one. By then it was one full hour of delay in the proceedings. And not surprisingly,not a single person would apologize for coming in late to the meeting.
The guy who came in first kept grumbling all the while criticizing everyone for the lack of punctuality and patted himself on the back for maintaining time(To most of us,being punctual has come to mean being the first one to arrive). Once the minimum number of people required for the meeting had gathered,it was a “free for all”. One could see several private, one-to-one conversations and the president of the society would not make any attempt to lead the discussions with the agenda points. After wasting one full hour thus without conducting any business,one suddenly woke up to a big commotion in the room with one guy announcing that he wanted to resign,drawing everyone’s attention in the process. As it turned out,the provocation was some society member’s unfounded allegations. He was outraged by the fact that an outside member ,(who is used to making lose comments on every issue without bothering to verify facts),was trying to spread falsehood saying that the management committee was conspiring to siphon out money by giving painting contract to an interested party. The agitated member went on to justify why he wanted to resign saying “ham to chori kar nahin rahe hain – hamara ghar ka kaam thodi hai”.
Ultimately some saner voices prevailed to convince everyone about the need for constructive discussions on the agenda. There was agreement in the committee on important issues like collection of money to take the project forward. The committee members also agreed that attempts would be made to collect the necessary funds and the members should contemplate resigning only if society members did not make any payment. It was also emphasized that we should not shy away from undertaking such an important project just because some lose tongues were wagging. And in the larger interest of the society building we ought do what we felt was right. In case people did not cooperate ,we could resign at that stage. The meeting finally ended on that positive note.

The above account is a typical example of how most of the meetings are conducted in our Housing Society.

In our society, as elsewhere,one can see all categories of people. There are guys who are totally indifferent(it is as though they are living in a different planet!). They never bother to attend even the annual general body meetings,but they promptly make all payments as demanded without asking any questions. They would never complain about any issue. Do we call them “sthita Prajna” or simply ‘Tamasik’ individuals in the terminology of Bhagavadgita?
On the other extreme one will find guys who will never form part of any team, but keep on complaining and raising their voice at the slightest opportunity. For instance,if there is no water in their wing they will at once jump to the conclusion that the management is deliberately diverting water supply from one wing to the other.
Again,whenever a contract is given for any common job they would spread falsehood(without any regard to facts)on people being corrupt and so on.
There is another set of people who also fall in the same category of being negative but operate in a slightly different manner. They are less vociferous in their approach. One can not miss their cynicism in every comment they make. On every issue or initiative ,they will keep expressing negative views. “Idar kutch honewala nahin hai” is their typical comment on every initiative.
There is yet another category of people,who have tremendous energy and enthusiasm to do something positive but at the slightest provocation or even a suggestion they would lose their sanity and threaten to resign.Typically they will say “hamara ghar ka kaam thodi hai,mere ko karna hai tho meri baat maan lo”. These are the people with an uncompromising “My way or High way!” type of attitude.
However you will always find one or two very sane voices who are prepared to weather any storm and ensure that common good is achieved at any cost. Hats off to such very few individuals who are a very rare species in any society.

Isn’t it funny that in spite of all that happens in a Housing society,it is still called a ‘Cooperative’ Society?

Going by several such accounts from my friends living across the city,I think it is fairly safe to conclude that in many ways a housing society in India is a mini replica of our parliamentary proceedings. This reinforces my belief in the saying – “People get the Government they deserve”.

Published in: on March 25, 2009 at 5:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. haha… i luv ur quote “People get the Government they deserve” !!
    very nice posts…

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