If this city of eight million needs anything, it is the mass awareness on urban living and civic life. But it is exactly what’s lacking.
The recent absurd mass reaction to a deplorable rumour that a divine baby was born and people staying awake and keeping vigil the whole night is more than enough evidence of how easy it is to create mass hysteria, which in some cases can set off a fatal stampede.
Not that nationally we behave any better. Look how some mischievous SMSes and mails led to the exodus of North-East people. The trauma that these people suffered is something that cannot be fathomed.
Coming back to the City, it is clear that people despite education are steeped in superstition. Why they collectively submit themselves to the call of the pied piper is beyond reason. In the instance of the divine baby issue, police went about telling people to ignore it completely and go to sleep. No way: the elders not only stayed awake, but pulled out kids from under the sheets and made them sit before the television to keep them awake! What kind of Gen Next are we making?
It’s obviously clear that a large number of people, especially in the old city, are in the clutches of Shylocks and sorcerers. And they are also under the thumb of priests who misguide them. This is one reason black magic is very much in vogue and private financiers continue to fleece the gullible and the hapless. Hundreds commit suicide and get thrashed. It is here that the government that includes the municipal corporation, and voluntary agencies must step in and help them.
The situation is not better when it comes to environmental consciousness. We see wanton felling of trees, destruction of plants and thoughtless use of plastic and yet do not understand that we need oxygen and water to live.
Most important target group
The most important initiative must come from the GHMC and the voluntary organizations who could set up a string of micro-level institutions to disseminate knowledge of civic life and environmental awareness.
The most important target group must be drivers. Their eco-illiteracy is proving pernicious for citizens. Perhaps they do not realise that they too are victims. It is a fact that most of those engaged as drivers are highly unaware of the adverse health impact of air and sound pollution. What can one say of a driver who keeps his vehicle running for hours while waiting just to keep the airconditioner on and music blaring? Ask them and they would look surprised at your ‘audacity’ to poke your nose into their affairs! They seem to say, what does it matter to you if I keep my machine running? I pay for the fuel, don’t I?
Littering, spitting and urinating in public places (lack of urinals is to be addressed first), and scant regard for pedestrians are some of the common civic curses we see in Hyderabad (and elsewhere too).
A senior police officer who was aghast at the people’s illogical behaviour in the city told me a story: A girl had lost her gold ring while bathing in the village pond. The worried girl looked around for help and saw a young man, whom she knew, passing by. She called out to him and asked him to help her find the ring she lost in the pond. The youth jumped and began searching; soon another came along and he too joined the search. And so who ever came by jumped into the pond without bothering to find out the reason for other people jumping into it. Meanwhile, the embarrassed girl slipped away. Finally, someone who saw the fracas asked why were people jumping into the pond. Since nobody knew the reason, he did not join the crowd in the pond.
About the Author (Author Profile)
PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.