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Column | The big struggle against discipline

Responsibility to make India a better habitable place is on us all and each one has to make his contribution, whichever side of the table we are on.

punjab Updated: Dec 03, 2017 11:33 IST
Anil Kohli
Roadblocks, buses on fire, dharnas etc occur everywhere causing loss and inconvenience.
Roadblocks, buses on fire, dharnas etc occur everywhere causing loss and inconvenience.(HT File)

It is getting loud and clear. To us democracy means the right to stay undisciplined. It is so much more visible as we move into the 71st year of our independence. The ways, types and styles differ but everything gets more and more undisciplined. We are becoming a restive nation with a deep concern about our rights, preferences and money. Anything that affects any of these has the potential to become a law and order problem. This negativity makes the social environment stressful.

The ‘fully supportive’ media highlights all that obligates the governments, of the stated or unstated obligations. Whether Padmavati, Jat reservation or the physical action of a policeman, even of a failed medical intervention, or similar happenings, brings us up in arms. Roadblocks, buses on fire, dharnas etc occur everywhere causing loss and inconvenience. Violence has perhaps reached unprecedented levels. What has brought us to these modes of protest or resistance? The obvious answers could be, a non-responsive establishment, a higher expectation by masses based on comparisons, increasing social awareness, improved judicial overreach coupled with poor administration, creaking infrastructure and low adherence. While we compare our rights, entitlements, infrastructure or systems with the developed nations, we see nothing in ourselves that would help the country to get there. Use of such tactics does pressurise the governments to deliver more than obliged.

We cannot but compare the attitudes and behaviour. For some urgent grocery needs in our neighbouring market, the recently installed recycle can was already prostrated. Scores of poly sheets/bags strewn were all over. Shoppers would just walk or jump over them and wading through a beehive of two wheelers. The shop owner with a shrug said, “It is the municipal corporation’s role, as we put the stuff in the prostrated can.” Our parking skills also show our deep apathy to other’s convenience.

Compare it to the situation in the USA and the ingrained sense of discipline. Returning with groceries and almost at her house, my daughter noticed a polybag lying on the side of the road. She slowed a bit and said that this one seems to have jumped out of our recycle bin. I have to put it back. I offered to take care of that as she parked. Indeed, it was very distinctly an Indian bhujia bag. No one had asked her to do so except herself. Self-realisation and one’s role towards the society and community helps maintain a sustainable and true democracy. Such an arrangement provides stability and balance. Short-term advantages at the cost of others have to be replaced by ways with ethical behaviour, social justice and environmental care and a reasonable reward.

Defacing walls, throwing trash anywhere, callousness to the public property, ‘kundi’ connections, running taps, jumping red lights etc all confirm that discipline is not a priority. All these are direct or collateral consequences of a corrupt environment. It is not only the financial corruption it is also the intellectual and moral corruption that multiplies the damage.

The anomaly lies in us expecting that “everyone complies but I am excused”.

Responsibility to make India a better habitable place is on us all and each one has to make his contribution, whichever side of the table we are on.

We need to ask ourselves – is this for common good? Would it create situations for common disadvantage? We have to commit and step outside our silo interests and look at the larger picture. Withdrawing ourselves of corruption would be a great contributor. Individually, we can ensure contribution even in a small way to be abiding citizens. It still will take a very long time to be where we wish to be -given the mess we already have created.

(The author can be contacted at kohlianil@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal