Civic sense: blame yourself not the government

By Shreya

Do you really enjoy driving to work every day? What is it that puts you off: the actual drive or the utter lack of driving sense of fellow drivers on your way? How many times have you waited patiently in a queue (bank, railway ticketing etc), only to have someone else just jump the queue? How many times have you experienced some other car just drive into the only parking lot available while you were patiently waiting for it to get vacant? Isn’t it something we experience every day, due to our lack of understanding of a concept: CIVIC SENSE! Seemingly, educated people put up their worst civic sense behaviour in public spaces.

Thanks to common man, our country is untidy and public offices reek of foul smell. A corner in the public office is reduced to a garbage dump and on every road in the city; one can see people answering the call of nature. In the smaller cities, people do not spare even a place like a hospital or nursing home where hygiene is of utmost importance. They buy foodstuffs from the shops and chuck the wrappings on the road, completely visually challenged to the dustbin standing next to them in silent admonishment.

Spit marks, public defecation, vulgar graffiti on walls, a cupid with his bow etc., etc. are a common sight in India. Even the walls and banisters of a Government building are so covered with `paan’-chewed spittle that they resemble a colourful mosaic pattern. Spitting pawn and phlegm through the window of a moving bus, a country where throwing garbage and unwanted things on the vacant plot next door is considered an automatic right, civic sense just doesn’t make any sense to us. No city, no town, no village has been able to fight or contain any of these. Citizens have become so insensitive that they go about their daily chores nonchalantly amidst the chaotic muck and mess all around them.

Incredible India,really!??Monuments have now become a lovers spot. Names etched on the monument stones or the flora being violated at the beautifully created gardens, – are some of the common sights that greets visitors when they visit the various historical and heritage sites

India seems to be a country, where road rage is rampant, and traffic rules are followed only by some ‘fools’. Here not even a single driver, whether they were educated at Harvard or an Indian village ‘pathshala’ apparently knows that you have to stop your vehicle before a zebra crossing, as a consideration to pedestrians. The only concern for the driver is how to beat the red light and get across first. We live in a country where life has no value and very often Two-wheeler riders have to perform acrobatics to escape being hit by spittle from bus passengers and lorry drivers.

Even in the metro, people don’t have the basic courtesy to offer their seat to a woman or at least to an old person! And while a pregnant woman is trying to maintain balance in the Metro, CONSCIOUS youngsters are sitting and chatting, and even the men or other women for that matter don’t have the basic courtesy to get up and offer their seat. And not surprisingly due to lack of space in metro, I suppose, people even spit inside the broken glass of fire extinguishers that are fixed at various places inside the stations. So bad is their state that in a case of emergency, one would not like to even touch these fire extinguishers

In India, even prominent personalities like politicians, corporate honchos and film stars regularly indulge in proud displays of lack of civic sense and civil behaviour, not to forget the case of India’s ‘king khan’ Shahrukh Khan at the Wankhade stadium, where he indulged in proud display of his fame and name and got into a messy argument with the guard. Moreover, with other people standing in a queue at banks, these influential people get there work done in a jiffy without having to wait like a common man .Ministers delaying planes with complete disregard for other passengers, big companies that freely pollute rivers and lakes, film stars getting into frequent fracas, are just a few examples. These prominent personalities are also in the habit of being fashionably late at the events they are invited to as chief guests.
Our politicians have proved to be the most uncivilised and irresponsible citizens and we have many instances to support this statement. Take for example this case… on Feb 8, 2011 Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s Personal Security Officer (PSO) Padam Singh, a retired police officer went beyond his call of duty when Mayawati asked him to wipe her dusty shoes with his handkerchief. These politicians represent a particular Indian attitude where rules are meant for other people if they are to be acknowledged at all.

Civic sense is no more an issue to be discussed; now it has also added an element of crime to it. An argument over lack of civic sense again ended in murder in the capital. A 17-year-old girl was shot dead in Nizamuddin in south Delhi by their apparently-inebriated former tenant for asking him to stop urinating near the staircase of their house

Why are we as a nation so insensitive to such matters? Isn’t it time we do something about this?

We have programmes, which scratch the surface of the issue but what we need is an awareness drive, which will create a deep-rooted sense of responsibility in every citizen. Moreover we should first and foremost understand that our roads are dirty not because the municipality did not clean them but because we the people first and foremost, dirtied them – by throwing litter, spitting etc. Stop cursing the government, while continuing to disregard civic sense as a way of life.
A multi-media awareness campaign, which includes audio-visual presentations, handouts, people-to-people contact and advertisements, should be carried out. Stricter and more sustained measures are needed.

Clean-up drives like the one organised by an anonymous group called The Ugly Indian should be organised, mobilizing volunteers to spruce up parts of their cities where garbage has been dumped, walls have been stained and pavements have crumbled.

Civic sense is a very serious issue to be dealt with and if youth comes together then a change is ought to come. Working in tandem works wonders. We can easily fit in roles we devise for ourselves. Ultimately, it all comes down to taking initiative.

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