Guest column | Civic sense among Indians? A pipe dream

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We talk of becoming a developed nation by 2047, but developing a civic sense will probably take double the time!

This year, we are celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ with great fanfare and there is talk of dreaming big and becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. We are patting ourselves on the back for being the fifth largest and fastest growing economy, having a 74% literacy rate, longevity of 70 years, impressive nuclear energy and space programmes, 39% renewable energy, the impressive growth of civil aviation industry, successfully making our presence in G-20 (Group of Twenty), Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the SCO (Shanghai Corporation Organisation ). However, what about developing a civic sense among Indians?

While the characteristics of developed nations can be defined as high per capita income, guaranteed security and health parameters, low unemployment rate, mastering science and technology, higher exports than imports, controlled population development, all these put the responsibility on the ‘state’. What about citizens’ effort towards becoming a civilized society, which will hasten the process of being a developed nation>

Respecting the law, inculcating good etiquettes, paying taxes, and keeping our surroundings clean are the markings of a responsible citizen who have a civic sense. It also means respecting others’ privacy and freedom. Let me quote few prevailing irritants as an example. At traffic lights, one witnesses people without a helmet, horns blaring, driving in the wrong lane, jumping the lights, non-functional traffic lights, pot holes, use of cell phone, cops not doing their desired duties, and the ugly sight of beggars. This ill behoves the citizens of a nation that dreams big.

In public places, throwing garbage everywhere, wrong parking, jumping the queues, over flowing garbage bins and talking loudly are a routine affair. Our work culture leaves a lot to be desired with ‘no’ being the standard response, and most of us have to work under ‘supervision’.

Indians who wish to understand the concept of civic sense should go to army cantonments where discipline is the catalyst to achieving this virtue. Officers and jawans come from the same stock, except that work culture, accountability and civilised behaviour make them special.

Many a times you see hoardings in cities saying: “Do you have in you – Join the Army”; I would also like there to be signages at airports, ports, railway stations, stadiums, highways and poll rallies asking “India is on the move. Do you have in you to make it a develop nation with civic sense?.”

Finally, transparency, accountability and deterrent punishment is the need of the hour.

( The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor)

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