On May 22, the much-talked about “India’s first high-speed semi-luxurious train” Tejas Express, was launched. The train runs between Mumbai and Goa. It is equipped with modern amenities on board like LCD TVs, Wi-Fi, closed circuit camera, Bio-vacuum toilets and touch-less water taps.
As the new Tejas Express rolled in from Delhi to Mumbai, from where it was to be officially flagged off… it looked old. Miscreants had broken a number of windows. And so India’s first high-speed semi-luxurious train was flagged off with broken windows.
Even worse was what transpired at the end of the journey from Mumbai. India’s first high speed semi luxurious train was raped out of her grandeur by uncivil Indians.
Some passengers on the train had attempted to dislodge gadgets from the hinges, in an obvious attempt to steal it. Headphones were taken away. Some passengers did not flush and the toilet began to stink an hour into the journey. By the end, we Indians proved that we are the most ungrateful citizens a nation can ever have.
There is a saying in Kannada “Mangana Kaiyalli Manikya Kotanthe” (It’s like giving monkey a diamond). It means a monkey does not know the value of the diamond. 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. This begs the question: Do we Indians deserve anything nice? NO.
We, for some unknown reason have an urge to destroy and disfigure property that is not ours. Politicians wear crisp white clothes, but don’t have a problem when their followers disfigure circles with ugly flex posters. The etchings on elevator doors and the backrest of bus seats will give you an insight to our perverted mind.
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 sense of aesthetics or civility. We have no love for our public property; we love only our private property.
Now, be it while celebrating or mourning, we destroy things. In Karnataka, two incidents come to mind — the chaos following the death of actors Dr. Vishnuvardhan and Dr. Rajkumar. Two legends of Kannada cinema known for their calm and dignified persona.
In fact, 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 minimum one year imprisonment, which may extend to ten years and with fine.”
If the damaged public property is an installation related to the supply of water or power or is a means of public transport or telecommunication, then the miscreants “shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to five years and with fine.” But sadly these laws are hardly ever used.
The Constitution of India, while guaranteeing its citizens certain Fundamental Rights, has also prescribed eleven Fundamental Duties. They are:
- To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideal and institutions;
- To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
- To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
- To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
- To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities;
- To renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
- To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
- To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures;
- To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
- To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
- 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 a court. But it was assumed that all Indians love their nation and will do everything to protect it. But alas!
Yes, we have forgotten our duties but 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 are breaking in India. Let’s first have a civilised India. And effective implementation of law is how you civilise an uncivil population.
May be, instead of playing the National Anthem in the movie theatres, the government should remind people of this Nation about their duties.