For us, no rule rules
'Be you ever so high, the law is always above you’, former Chief Justice JS Verma once said. Our response, ‘in your dreams.’ Delhi’s lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna was echoing this sentiment when he said that people in north India take pride in violating the law. Of course, the knives are out for the poor L-G and he is being decried for what many feel is an objectionable remark. But, it is quite possible that the L-G has done a singular disservice to us as a nation by confining his remark to one geographical region.
Those in the South, East and West may well take issue with him on the grounds that they are equally, if not more, adept at breaking the law. Take spitting, that uniquely Indian expression of public ablution. Across India, the unsuspecting passerby stands a good chance of being drenched in a paan-soaked projectile in public places and treated to an abstract mural of reddish brown splotches on public walls. Our methods of litter disposal are also efficient and speedy. For those fortunate enough to own a car, just roll down the window and throw the offending item right out, never mind if it hits a bystander. Or maybe peanuts take your fancy on a journey. Enjoy yourself as you fling the shells onto the floor. The disposal of household waste is another fine art that we have mastered. It is usually accomplished by a simple flick of the wrist over the balcony so that your garbage lands with scientific precision on your neighbour’s premises. Yes, the law prevents all this, but we are like that only.
When it comes to breaking any law, even those designed for our safety, trust us to rise to the occasion. So it might come to pass that you’re cruising along over the speed limit when you come to a red light. Will that stop you? You must be kidding. You will race through it. Chances are that you will end up on the rear bumper of the car in front. The indignant offendee will alight and challenge you. Now in other countries, the offender would try and settle the damage. Not us. You will first inform the injured party as to who you are. If this does not work, the next step would be a few threats and finally a well-aimed blow or two. Case closed. As for parking in designated areas, this is challenge we love to take on. So, if parking is prohibited in a certain area, be sure that we will position ourselves there.
In the South, we have an added phenomenon of a violent outburst of temper if anyone should be so bold as to criticise our favourite filmstar. A contemporary of Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi found out firsthand when he made a critical remark about the latter. He and his family were thrashed by fans and faced threats until the star himself stepped in. So all we can say to the Lieutenant-Governor is, give us a break and don’t straitjacket our natural breaking tendencies.
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