Is ours an ignorant or arrogant society?
The beautiful land of Kashmir and its once charming people for centuries faced exploitation at the hands of aggressors and many a time suppression by its own people. After the end of autocracy in 1947 we had some leveled field to empower and educate ourselves. It is a different story that the political empowerment has not shaped the way people of this state are aspiring, for long. However, we are more educated and empowered than the times when we were traded like cattle. But the question arises that after more than six decades of all round education in almost all fields and experiencing winds of democracy, have we turned more ignorant than we were some half a century ago or premature and overexposure to democracy has made us arrogant? We break laws and violate rules with impunity; we have no regard for moral values and are lacking social responsibility: we have lost the sense of nationality. Materialism is creeping in our mindset like plague and we are losing, earlier much cherished Kashmiri touch of kindness and exceptional hospitality. This is not my concoction or bias against my own people but my experience in public life of which I am the integral part and an active element.
Few days back at about eight in the evening while I was traveling back home from Royal Spring Golf Course I found a trail of unique garbage and waste dumped on the boulevard. Empty beer tins and liquor bottles with variety of plastic waste and leftover eatables gave a wretched look on otherwise Cleaner Boulevard along Dal Lake. Shamelessly, in violation of law some aberrant elements had resorted to boozing at public place and awful littering on the face of this city. Yet in another unpleasant experience I noticed one of my acquaintances making a U-turn on busy Abdullah Bridge at peak traffic hour. The fellow is educated, apparently well mannered and law abiding. With his insensible act he made a mess of otherwise busy but smooth traffic movement. Such incidents of violating rules and lacking moral responsibility are not isolated case of degrading values in our society but most of the people in this beautiful land in one or the other way violate rules and showing very less regard for laws of the land. Traffic violations and littering are the two most noticeable facets of our degraded moral values and diminishing social responsibility.
Littering and dumping garbage on every street and road is a common practice in almost all parts of the subcontinent but Kashmir people are callous while getting rid of their trash. Garbage and its unscientific and thoughtless disposal is not something new but the above mentioned situation speaks volumes about our insensitive attitude and our approach towards trash management. The Boulevard scene depicts our lawlessness, moral degradation and lack of much required awareness about sanitation. Most often, sanitation is considered directly related to the level of knowledge and awareness. However in our case most of the violations are either made or sponsored by the educated and so-called elite. A simple visit to most parts of the Srinagar city either in the morning or evening will reveal the real picture of our garbage disposal. Most of the people get their household waste dumped on the pedestrian walk ways, road-dividers or simply throw it on the roads, streets or in the lanes and by-lanes.
In most of the cases they carry the waste in small containers but when they empty it they nearly lose their power of comprehension and reasoning and dispose it the way an ignorant or arrogant fellow will think twice before dumping.
As far our traffic sense and respect for traffic rules is concerned, it is almost nonexistent. At every crossing we jump traffic lights or heed very little to the signals of traffic regulating cops. Overtaking and lane jumping is a routine and violators show no sign of regret while unlawful overtaking or jumping the traffic lane. Taking a U-turn at busy intersections and blocking the left lane at red lights is a regular practice with our drivers. Use of cellular phones while driving and driving without hamlets and safety seat belts is a routine here. Most of the traffic jams within Srinagar and on it outskirts near Zainkoot and Pathachowk crossing is more due to the negligence of drivers and very less because of traffic cops. Wrong parking by rogue sumo drivers mostly at Batamaloo, Karannagar, Dalgate and along the Boulevard ; insensitive approach of minibus drivers while choosing their stops and above all wrong parking by private car owners and bikers is the most menacing part of our traffic chaos. We can give some margin to public transport operators but the role of professionals, educationists, technocrats, elite and other knowledgeable people who own most of the private cars and bikes is most unfortunate and speak volumes of our ignorance or abject arrogance. May Almighty give us collective sense of responsibility!