Civic issues in India. I say these words aloud, and confused/confusing images form in my mind. A lax attitude on part of the powers that be, a lack of awareness on part of the common citizen; this raises more questions than it answers.
I know we all are bothered by civic problems we face. We speak out in frustration against the plethora of issues that are ignored by the Government, but don’t really do anything about them ourselves. Those who want to take actions… do they even know how to go about it? An understanding, sympathetic ear to the common man’s issues — that’s hardly the impression the Government gives us.
Improper road maintenance, poor hygiene, inadequate medical facilities, transport problems, education issues, safety concerns, water supply, encroachments, traffic problems… the list really is endless. You walk out after a hard day at work, and there are a hundred possibilities of something or the other becoming a source of exasperation for you, right from your mode of conveyance to the place you live in.
Improper/non-existent maintenance on part of the Government leads to society ending up hapless. Public properties like zoos, national parks, historical monuments become littering grounds in decrepit, shameful conditions. Dengue epidemics are often a result of water-logging becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Let’s not even talk about the pathetic condition of roads, leading to countless accidents and many unforeseen puncture situations.
As much as we might want to blame the Government’s incompetent ways in handling these issues and see them as a deterrent, I’d dare say we don’t seem to make the surroundings we live in any good for ourselves. Even a cursory respect for the name of the law seems to be a far shot when the onus is on us to clean the mess.
We are a people that learn by example, so I’ll venture one:
Mumbai monsoons are notoriously famous for wreaking havoc with their unannounced torrential thunder. A few months back, many of us were stuck in our offices because of continuous showers, but a few bravehearts decided to make their way to the local train station. An hour later, they were still stuck near the Lower Parel station, which is hardly 10 minutes away. They were walking (or at least trying to walk) in knee-deep water with tonnes of garbage for company. This particular part of Mumbai has garbage littered around every corner of every locality. The mere thought of making my way to the station induced cringe and horror. Drainage, maintenance on part of the Government and civic sense when it comes to disposing of garbage, on our part could probably have made things better.
Littering is my pet peeve, to the extent that I carry multiple wrappers in my bag because of lack of dustbins over the city. But I know that I’m unaware or maybe even inconsiderate about hordes of other civic problems. Social etiquette, community ethics — we need to realise just how crucial these are in the making of a developed nation. People urinating in public is a sorely unwelcome sight, but how many places across India can boast of proper public toilets in place? This should be the authorities’ responsibility. Learning to not spit paan on the streets, avoiding littering – these are some of the things that should be a citizen’s responsibility. Working in tandem works wonders. We can easily fit in roles we devise for ourselves. Ultimately, it all comes down to taking initiative.