India is a country where we do not respect anything but at the same time, respect just about anything!
We do not have respect for rules and regulations!
If you read the long list of grievances that the general public normally voices on social media – the prevailing theme is that the government has, either, not created the laws required to rectify a wrong, or has failed to implement it properly.
In other words, no matter what goes wrong, the government is to blame – not the people – after all, we elected them to solve our problems, didn’t we?
So if we see someone burning garbage on the streets, we aren’t going to stop them because we’ve elected government leaders to do just that!
It is an undeniable fact that when it comes to common problems, people in India are quick to point fingers and even quicker at removing themselves from the situation.
You see, last night, we had a Twitter-debate with an upstanding Indian citizen who believed that the government was responsible for cleaning up the air we breathe.
He felt that every individual was entitled to clean air, no matter what their personal contribution to dirtying that air might be, and it was the government’s job to wipe the air clean – because we have elected them!
He also felt that our argument – that people should do something on their own until the government steps in – was illogical because most people couldn’t.
Apparently, our vision was blinded by money – the money that allowed our employees to support their families and the money that created a solution to a pollution-problem that helped thousands of customers provide their families and loved ones with cleaner air to breathe!
Also, our belief that people should fight for themselves instead of asking for a handout (give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish) didn’t really go down well either.
Well, we felt strongly enough about the matter to replace our regular blog post with this – so here goes:
There are people who fight and there are those who don’t – and those who don’t will lose – always!
But let’s get to the primary argument – because it is something everyone tends to make (or hide behind).
Governments are Responsible for Cleaning up Air
Now, there are two ways this can happen – first is that the government spends millions of rupees in setting up air purifiers out on the roads, providing coverage to the entire population of our country – something our government doesn’t have money for.
The alternative is that they create rules and regulations that force people into cleaning up their act – be it on vehicles, industries or any walk of life.
The second-option is more do-able, and idyllic, but brings in an angle of “respect” that we mentioned right at the beginning of this post.
Indians DO NOT respect laws!
It’s not just a politician or rich person thing – it’s a mentality visible every single day, in everyday life – with common people!
Just with road-rules, let’s look at some of the things that are illegal in India:
- Drunk driving
- Changing lanes without indicating ahead of time
- Turning without indicators
- Honking at traffic lights
- Overtaking from the left (also called under-taking)
- Using high-beam on headlights at night
- Driving over the speed limit
- Jumping traffic signals, etc.
Now, these are just some of the rules that the government has already made, and yet, if you stand on any street corner for 20-seconds, you’ll see hundreds of instances (a minor exaggeration) of people breaking all of these rules right in front of you, and more!
Do these rules not exist or are they unclear? Again, the fact is we Indians DO NOT respect laws!
There is a common Hindi saying: Pakde gaye toh dekha jayega or “We’ll see what happens if we get caught!”
It’s not just driving laws, mind you – dumping garbage on the streets, throwing used flowers into rivers, spitting on the streets, smoking in public places, drinking in public, pissing on the streets, burning dead leaves or branches… the list can go on and on!
Every single one of these things, and a whole bunch more, are illegal – and yet, a walk through any neighbourhood will reveal how blatantly regular our violations are!
Like we said: it isn’t the government’s fault – the people do not respect laws the government has made – but these Twitter debaters beg to differ because for them, implementation was a problem!
The Government needs to Implement it Better
The second part of their argument is: The government should do something to implement these rules!
Now answer me this: Every single vehicle driver should know that it is illegal to jump a traffic signal on red – do we really need a policeman standing at every traffic signal to prevent drivers from breaking the law?
Where is our own brain, our common sense, and sense of civic duty?
Why should a rule be adhered to only and only if there is a proverbial ‘gun to our head’?
Why do we need the municipal corporation to clean up garbage on the side of the streets? Why can’t we just throw it into dustbins or NOT set it on fire?
But no – that is not something we will do: We want the government to setup a system of flawless implementation where no individual, despite their willingness to do so, can break a law or flout regulations!
After all, that is what they were elected for, isn’t it?
First World is a Mindset, not an Economic State
A few months ago, I was in New Zealand and drove from Auckland, in the North Island, all the way through Napier, Wellington, down to Queenstown in the South Island.
I drove across approx. 1,900kms of New Zealand’s cities and countryside and – here’s the best bit – saw only four police cars on that entire journey!
That’s right – Four police cars, one of which was parked outside the police station in Franz Josef village.
Speeds limits in towns, along the highway, were 50kmph but there weren’t speed cameras or policemen waiting to punish people driving over it.
Almost all the towns we crossed had these LED signposts that simply stated our speed, asked us to slow down if we were above the speed limit, and thanked us for slowing down when we did – that’s it!
No cops, no speed cameras – nothing!
And yet, people slowed down, gave way to traffic that had the right of way; drove on the speed limit, if not under, and were more responsible in the way they drove!
Their government also setup some rules, and their implementation was far more sparse, and yet people respected the rules and didn’t break them even though they could have easily done so.
It’s not just traffic – they didn’t throw garbage on the streets either or start open fires – and again, there’s no punishment system in place – people just know what the right thing to do is, and do it.
In India, we have a different mindset – if we jump the traffic signal, it’s because the government didn’t stop us from doing so.
Its exactly the same when it comes to air pollution – we have a ban on open fires and burning dried wood & leaves – but you can hardly walk through a day without smelling fumes from open fires in multiple parts of <enter any city name here, it doesn’t matter>.
We can ask the government to create all the environmental laws we want, we can march on the streets against air pollution; start social media campaigns and debates – but the fact is, if we don’t stop breaking those laws ourselves, or stop others when we see it happening, things won’t change!
Again, in a country where people would rather watch accident/crime victims bleed out to death on the street for fear of getting involved, expecting them to say something against polluters is a distant dream!
All we can say is, if you care about your family, friends or loved ones, don’t wait for the government to solve the air pollution issue – do what you can.
And if you cannot afford it, don’t wait for someone to give you a handout – go out there and make it happen!