Most of us do not regard public property as our property. The same families that almost wor-ship cleanliness in their homes become littering apes when they are outside. Even educated folk do not think twice about defacing public property. The apathy lies in not considering public property as our own. Every citizen of our country should own ownership in the public property and everyone has the right to question when someone destroys the public property. We usually don’t think about the others and our system and hence don’t get bothered when it is vandalised.
The vast majority of us do not have a civic sense at all and this stems from the poverty-ridden conditions most of Indians have experienced at close quarters. These people go on telling that Indian civic sense is in a bad shape. If we see in the recent past, then will see that Public-Private sector enterprises have tried to provide us with well backed services. We always question why do we not have facilities like Japan, USA , China but we don’t care to maintain them even if we will have them.
PEDL bicycles, a Zoomcar initiative, were launched as a hassle-free transport option in Pune, where the commuters could hire a bicycle on a very economical price and pay through Paytm. While PEDL added 500 new cycles to its fleet in 2017, Mobike, a Chinese app-based bike sharing company which launched its operation in Kothrud last month, rolled into Fergusson College Road and Law College Road. In fact, Mo-bike had signed an MOU with Pune Municipal Corporation in support of the civic body’s ambitious ‘Pune Plan’ that aims to allocate resources, undertake projects and evaluate the outcomes towards achieving the goals set for improving cycling in Pune. The plan emphasised on building infrastructure for bicycling like building over 700 km of cycling tracks in the three years.
Unfortunately, every day, as many as eight-ten cycles are being damaged. These included attempts to pull off locks, severing baskets and damaging the tyres. The locks are often removed and cycles were taken out of the college campuses to the residential areas. The company officials had to visit the places to retrieve them. Furthermore, in a single day, around 40 cycles were damaged following which the private firms decided to withdraw their services at College of Agriculture. On April 2, around 9 pm, fleet executives found one of their bicycles ‘aban-doned’ and tracked it to the slums in Gokhale Nagar, where someone had tried to torch the lock. I myself found a PEDL bicycle thrown near the roadside garbage. We need to hire a supervisor who does hourly checks through the bicycles, to ensure the facilities are well maintained and to check on people vandalising it. The Government has time and again failed in educating people about civic sense.
This is because the Government’s efforts have always been half-baked. Even PM Narendra Modi’s Swachcha Bharat Abhiyaan, which had its heart in the right place, was not met with whole-hearted support. But such campaigns do not address the root of the problem, i.e. lack of education and large-scale poverty. There is no concerted effort to increase the standard of living of the average Indian. Think of the large number of Indians who still do not have access to private toilets or have to live cramped up in small one-room shanties. Such people lose their self-dignity over a period of time and even if they move to better surroundings, the habit stays.
This is certainly not the first incident of its kind. Last year, a luxurious train Mahamana Ex-press, connecting Delhi to Varanasi was abused days after being flagged off. The train’s interiors and facilities were a class apart and people were glad to see such a modern transformation in Indian railways. But within a week, the condition of the brand new train had been turned into a mess. The passengers of the newly launched train could not adhere to basic hygiene practices during a 14-hour travel time. Even the incident of the gross misuse of Tejas Express on its maiden run, is a fine example of the uncivilised nature prevalent in most of us. For the uninitiated, the passengers of Tejas Express took away headphones, damaged LCD screens, soiled the toilets and littered the entire train, all during its maiden journey from Goa to Mumbai.
All these incidents are a testimony to the fact that people have absolutely no care or respect toward public property and the facilities that are made available to the public. Many people think that civic sense is just about keeping our surroundings and roads clean. No, it is much more than that; it consists of abiding by laws, showing respect to and consideration for fellow countrymen and maintaining decorum in public places. Civic sense is social ethics. And, alas, right down at the bottom of our list!