Mess on roads!

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Developed West: If you are driving a car and you hear a siren – of an ambulance or a police car – you simply pull up to the side to make way for them. The rule-book says you can’t just slow down but you have to stop, and people obey this rule so religiously that very rarely would anybody land in legal net for undermining what the book says. Similarly, if a yellow-coloured school bus is parked on the road edge picking up or dropping school children, one can’t overtake (pass) it; again the passing-by vehicles have to stop and wait until the parking lights of school bus go off. This is law. Now if a person is following someone, say into a building or a store or elsewhere, the person ahead will wait and hold the door for the one who is to enter next and both will exchange gratitude for the gesture. This is ethics.

No wonder that the people as well as their countries are developed, both materially as well as legally and ethically – psychologically. Simply put, they deserve the kind of life they have and enjoy, where everything is the way it is supposed to be. Any deviations in the general pattern are just aberrations and believe it they are not so widespread as they seem to be, simply because every unruly act gets reported and makes it to crime records thereby inflating it.

Jammu and Kashmir: The popular aim is to bump off the other to make room for the self. The chaos and confusion on roads and streets in the state, where both pedestrians as well as the big and small vehicles are jostling for space and inching ahead only at the cost of the other, are just a reflection of the general behaviour of the entire society and the people. Unmindful of how critical time could prove for an ailing person, here nobody makes room for the ambulances. Flashing beacon lights and loud sirens hardly have an impact on other people on the wheels and ambulances too have to fight it out for their right to move ahead. Police and other VIP cavalcades using sirens are exception only because they are accompanied by gun- and baton-totting uniformed men who know how to push ahead even if it means crushing those in the way.

Word ‘Wild’ has often been associated with the ‘West’ in popular mediatized jargon, however, the streets in Jammu and Kashmir are way too wild than anything West may have. The only mantra is to poke into and occupy whatever space is available and it is done everywhere in wildest ways possible. Although laws and rules are in force here too, but nobody obeys them for the fear of getting foolishly stuck in this ‘survival race’ while the cunningly enterprising ones always move ahead. This is why breaking rules is a general culture and people are doing it with impunity and pride. Agencies vested with the responsibility of implementing laws and affect corrections of behavioral problems are themselves rooted in corruption. They too are out there to claim their pound of flesh and that is what they do.

Those walking on foot too could be seen moving ahead on any busy or even not-so-busy streets shoving and pushing others to make room for themselves; and such scenes are fairly common at bus stations and inside buses, at banks, post offices, and wherever there are more than one people. Nobody seems ready to even wait for the other, leave aside being generous and kind for ethical considerations. Capping this behavioural bankruptcy is that the political and religious leaders here extol people for being among the ‘chosen ones’ and common people too take pride in believing and behaving as if they are above every law – God’s, as well as made-made. What an irony!

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