Guest column | The civic sense among the Indians? A pipe dream
There is talk of becoming a developed nation by 2047, but developing a sense of citizenship will probably take twice as long!
This year we are celebrating “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” with great fanfare and it is all about dreaming big and becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. We are congratulating ourselves on being the fifth largest economy and at the fastest growing, having a 74% literacy rate, a longevity of 70 years, impressive nuclear and space energy programs, 39% renewable energy, the impressive growth of the civil aviation industry , a successful presence in the G-20 (Group of Twenty), Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the SCO (Shanghai Corporation Organization). However, what about the development of civic sense among Indians?
While the characteristics of developed nations can be defined as high per capita income, guaranteed safety and health parameters, low unemployment rate, mastery of science and technology, higher exports than imports, a controlled demographic development, all this puts the responsibility on “the State”. What about the effort of citizens to become a civilized society, which will accelerate the process of becoming a developed nation>
Obeying the law, instilling good manners, paying taxes and keeping our environment clean are the marks of a responsible and civic-minded citizen. It also means respecting the privacy and freedom of others. Let me cite a few dominant irritants as an example. At traffic lights, we see people without helmets, honking horns, driving in the wrong lane, skipping lights, non-functioning traffic lights, potholes, using cell phones, cops who don’t do the jobs they want and the ugly sight of beggars. This evil falls to the citizens of a nation that dreams big.
In public places, littering everywhere, parking badly, jumping queues, overflowing garbage cans and talking loudly are a matter of routine. Our work culture leaves a lot to be desired, ‘no’ being the standard answer, and most of us have to work under ‘supervision’.
Indians who wish to understand the concept of good citizenship must go to army cantonments where discipline is the catalyst for attaining this virtue. Officers and jawans come from the same stock, except that work culture, responsibility, and civilized behavior make them special.
More than once you see billboards in cities saying, “Have it in you – Join the army”; I also wish there were signs at airports, ports, railway stations, stadiums, highways and polls saying “India is on the move. Do you have it in you to make it a developed nation with a civic sense? »
Finally, transparency, accountability and dissuasive sanctions are the need of the hour.
(The author is a freelance contributor based in Chandigarh)