Break in India !
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Break in India !

June 3, 2023

We are a nation of vandals — wilful destroyers of what is beautiful or venerable. Be it painting love quotes on rocks, etching perverse rhymes on elevator doors, breaking art installations, slashing bus seats, stealing street lights or cutting fences on the new Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway, we are constantly defacing, stealing or destroying public property.

Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha in a press meet yesterday urged the people not to burgle fences, anglers and bracings on Mysuru-Bengaluru Highway. He reminded the people that the fence was their property and had been installed for their own safety.

We are sure his request fell on deaf ears because just a few months ago, he requested the same of the public.

We destroy or vandalise anything good that is provided for us by our Government. This reminds us of what happened to India’s first high-speed semi-luxurious train Tejas Express.

This train that runs between Mumbai and Goa came equipped with LCD TVs, Wi-Fi, closed circuit cameras, bio-vacuum toilets and touchless water taps. But by the time the train reached the end of its maiden journey, which was just a few hours long, the LCD screens were dislodged and broken, headphones were stolen, toilets were not flushed and touchless taps were pulled out!

It seems the state of Indian trains reflects our perverse behaviour, more so in North India. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) arrested over 11 lakh people across the country in 2016 for stealing from trains!

The public finds a lot of things to steal from trains — from copper wires to iron bolts, from blankets to washbasins. The public did not even spare the ‘lota’— mug placed to wash one’s bum.

The Jabalpur Division of Western Central Railways in 2017 reported that it has lost 1,100 of the 1,800 ‘lotas’ it had provided in its trains’ lavatories in just two weeks!

Guess, a lot of people on the Jabalpur line desperately needed a bum splash, but what they actually need is a bum lash like Singapore gives its vandalising citizens or anyone who vandalises public property.

In 1994, an American student spray-painted public property in Singapore. He was caught and sentenced to 6 lashes. The then President of the USA Bill Clinton called the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, to pardon him. Prime Minister Lee heeded to his request in such a manner that no President of the US will ever make such a request again. Lee Kuan simply reduced the number of lashes from 6 to 4. No wonder Singapore is Singapore.

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There is a saying in Kannada “Mangana Kaiyalli Manikya Kotanthe” (It’s like giving monkey a precious stone). It means a monkey does not know the value of the gem. So yes, we Indians are like the proverbial monkey. We don’t know the value of the good things we have. Be it nature, our historic monuments, our public spaces or public property.

We, for some unknown reason, have the urge to destroy and disfigure property that is not ours.

We have picnics in parks and leave the winds to sweep the paper plates and napkins. Freshly-painted walls are overnight stuck with film posters and graffiti of political movements. We have the unrelenting urge to profess our love by defacing beautiful rock faces and heritage structures with white paint or chalk.

We have no love for our public property; we love only our private property. The only way to reduce this behaviour, and this crime is — punishment.

There are two ways to go about booking a person for the destruction of public property. The Police can use the high-penalty and stringent ‘Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984’ or the milder, Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 says that, if a mob burns down a public property, the miscreants who commit the offence “shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year and can extend up to ten years.”

It further states that if the damaged public property is an installation related to the supply of water, power, public transport or telecommunication, then the miscreants “shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months and up to five years.”

Have any of us heard of such a punishment given to people who burn buses and cook on highways, destroying the road? No. That’s because we don’t have guts like Singapore. Our leaders are no Lee Kuan Yew. PM Modi may admire Lee Kuan Yew, but Yew he cannot be. We saw what happened when his party men looted our State. He turned into Mauna Mohan Singh, our former PM whom he used to mock for his silence. Let it be.

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 The Constitution of India, while guaranteeing its citizens certain Fundamental Rights,                             has also prescribed eleven Fundamental Duties. They are:

1. To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideal and institutions.

2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom.

3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.

4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.

5. To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities.

6. To renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

7. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.

8. To protect and improve the natural environment.

9. To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.

10. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence.

11. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.

While citizens are ‘morally obligated’ by the Constitution to perform these duties, these are “non-justiciable,” which means if someone does not perform these duties, he/she cannot be taken to Court. But it was assumed that all Indians love their nation and will do everything to protect it. But alas!

While we have forgotten our duties, we demand everything from the Government, and when the Government gives it, we break it. Our PM wants to ‘Make in India’ but first, let us use the law to stop the people who ‘Break in India.’

Maybe, instead of playing the National Anthem in movie theatres to evoke a sense of nationalism, the Government should read out our fundamental duties to evoke a sense of  true patriotism.

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9 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Break in India !”

  1. Sanjay Kini says:

    Well written , but even after 100 years from now people will be like this because not everybody gets the same upbringing in life as it all depends on parents.All these values must be inculcated from childhood and for every child to know these values I would suggest it starts from school, right from first standard . So all schools in India from villages to cities must have a extra subject called “Behaviour” every year which should have written exam and practical’s ( children should act and show their behaviour)right from 1st standard to 12th standard.This subject will inculcate good values , decorum , discipline, etiquette’s which today children from certain section of society don’t get to learn.This might help create a society like in Japan and 100 years from now India will be a developed country.

  2. Jalandhara says:

    Hello Vikram
    I am older than you, having born just a few years before1947.
    My recollection starts from when I was 8 years old. Our house was built in 1930s, and whennmy parents pklanned to build a small storage extension at the back of the house, in 1951, they employed the same building contractor who built our house in 1930s. The contractor arranged sand, gravel and cement bags to be delivered in the evening, in the front area of our house inside the entry gate which was secured to the compound wall around the house. The next day, we were out to see the plan the contractor drew up in his office. on our return, we found that the cement bags were gone and the sand heap was reduced to nothing. The entry gate was not broken into! Our building contractor and my parents were agast with this theft, the kind of which they never experienced in1930s, when nthe building materials were left in the site on which our house was built.
    Soon, in mid-1950s, I read that crores of Rupees were unaccounted for during the Vidhana Soudha construction. Fingers pointed toward Kengal Humanthaiah the CM, who was blamed for appointing his frieds as the construction contractors. The enquiry ordered by Kengal, cleared him. No one knew, how those crores were lost!
    There were fences and iron covers for the man holes, as well as the wooden fish plates that secured the train track before independence. They were not stolen then. Why did they start disappearing during 1950s?
    There are much more serious life-threatening issues in regards to the adulteration of foods-milk, cooking oil, rice etc.. these days; the cough syrup manufactured by an Indian company killed a significant number of children in Gambia, to where it was exported. Accidental””use of an unsuitab;e ingredient was blamed by the Indian company.
    The malaise is too entrenched visible in the fibres of the Indian society, after it got embedded with the politicians and institutions. Vandalism-the fence theft for example, is the manifestation of such a malaise., where as in the case of the politicians in power, the officials and adminitrators who squirrel away massive amount of money meant for services and development of infrastructure, are well hidden.. There are feeble examples of the CBI raids broadcast to the public, in a cynical exercise.
    The Congress government which came to power, promising a few core gu antees, which involve an unprecedented sum of money, has a serious task on hand in ensuring that the mony goes where it should and not leaked away on its route. Much more serious than the visible vandalism.
    The poster above, suggests solutions such as good parenting etc..,But, it is difficult to see how this entrenched malaise which has become the culture prevailing in India today can be shaken off. I doubt, India will be a developed country by the time period he suggests. Abdul Kalam , the president assured 20 years time for the developed status of India, from the time of his presidency! It should be about now, can’t see it!
    Very often the example of Singapore is touted. Having worked there on assignments, I can say that the society there lives in constant fear of the iron fist of the government. The politians in power there are elected , it is proudly said there; but there only one party which gets elected to power since independence. The person who wields power there is always the descendant of ee Kuan Yew.

  3. Mann Ki Baat! says:

    ?Vandalism in India are of 2 categories: noticeable and clandestine, t The former category is what @ Vikram is articulating, mostly committed by the blue collar criminals, where as the latter is almost always financial involving large amounts of money, committed by these days by polticians,and the officialdom. While MP Simha, blames the perpetrators of the first category of vandalism, his BJP and its ministers committed the latter category of vandalism, named as the 40% commission!
    Whilst, @Vikram seems to be inclined towards the Singapore approach of corporal punishment to the criminals who commit the ‘noticeable physical vandalism, is he prepared at the same time to advocate similar corpororal punishment to those rich white collar criminals , I mentioned above, consisting of politicians and officials? MP Simha, the BJP politicianmay well be found guilty in this category of finacial vandalism, and deserve to take say 10 lashes in public. What does@ Vikram say to this?
    Singapore was also ruled by the British. Unlike India after independence, independent Singapore maintainds the British precepts of meritocracy, corruption free services, law and order for example, but administers them with strict firmness. Hence, one can see trains arriving on time, entries to universities and professional courses on merit only. Its main university, the National University of Singapore is ranked at 19 in the Times World university ranking, where as no university in India is within 150 of the Times world ranking.
    No wonder, patients from India, including from Mysore, seek medical treatment in Singapore hospitals where the specialits are real experts unlike those in Mysore. The Singapore Airlines is the best in its services, and unlike Air India, its economy and buiness classes are not crammed with its officials for free rides!
    Singaporeans hence, tolerate the one party state established by Lee Kuan Yew, and his model of iron fist administration.
    India, on the otherhand is mired in vanadlism of both categories mentioned above, and is the third world dump, from where people want to escape, even paying people smugglers (1. 2.
    The current pathetic state of India, 75 years after independence.

  4. Arun says:

    Well written. However this will continue as long as just 6% of the population contributes to the nation interms of income tax, while others enjoy everything around without any responsibility.

  5. citizenvoter says:

    When animals enter a coffee plantation or some paddy fields or banana plantation, owners shoot and kill them. Same way the
    vandals should be treated as animals and shoot them. When a bunch of them were shot and killed, these things will shot.

  6. citizenvoter says:

    > these things will shot
    Correction: These things will stop.

  7. Aniyan Verghese says:

    Hello @Arun
    You say: “However this will continue as long as just 6% of the population contributes to the nation interms of income tax, while others enjoy everything around without any responsibility”
    Who are the above 6% o the population? Can you clearly identify them and let us know?
    “When animals enter a coffee plantation or some paddy fields or banana plantation, owners shoot and kill them”
    Can you elaborate which animals these are that : “enter a coffee plantation or some paddy fields or banana plantation”?

  8. Jagadish Saligram says:

    This subject relating to poor comparison of our country with other developed countries like Singapore, Japan, and the rest of them, with reference to corruption-free governance and a society with a high sense of civic responsibilities, social awareness and discipline, the reasons therefor, is too complex, deep-rooted, multi-faceted and multi-layered. Therefore debating a couple of aspects in isolation leads to misunderstanding and fruitless arguments. Very briefly, the reasons lie far back in our tumultuous and horrendous medieval history of brutal islamic invasions which destroyed our Dharmic culture, and our colonisation by the british who looted all our wealth and reduced our society to dire poverty. The golden opportunity to start our journey resurrecting our glorious past and rebuilding our society virtually from scratch, was lost owing to the poor leadership which succeeded the british and assumed power. The origins of all the ills of our present day society can be traced to these three reasons.

  9. Gautam says:

    Hello Jagadish Saligram
    You simply blame the politicians power since independence, but fail to blame the greedy institutions and the society. Just look at in what ways the curruption has become endemic in India. There are no longer any honst district officials including the DC and police commissioners. Just look at the MCC, and the lowest cadre of its officials demand cash to get anything done. Way back in 1960, one clerk in the then Mysore municipal council denanded 100 Rupees just to post the death cerificate of my father or given to me in person. It was there sitting on his desk ready. When said to him that the money he is asking for is beyond our financial abilities, he said that it is high, because, he has to share the bribe with his 2 other collegues! His manager simply asked me to pay up. That was not the politician doin, that was a member of the society who functioned as the municipal clerk.
    Indians are generally very dishonest. How else, one can explain the Indian students paying people smugglers to ferry them acros the English Channel on dinghies, so that they enter England , claim political asylum, to avail of university tuitio fee loans and living expenses, meant for UK citizens? Read;
    Japanese students and singapore students also arrive in England to study in the universities, in the proper way, getting student visas and paying university fees. They are not dishonest unlike Indian students.
    India has long lost its moral values. Politicians are not the onlt to be blamed. Blame the ordinary Indiansv who have no moral fibres left in their bodies.


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