On a winter morning, during the office hours, about a hundred vehicles stood, honking discreetly at the traffic signal to go green. Soon afterwards, when the signal went green, like shepherds daunting their herds of sheep, the vehicles behind started to honk continuously at the ones in-front. Every vehicle honked indifferently. These were machines and not humans honking at each other. The honking continued while the pedestrians silently suffered. An everyday story of every traffic jam, in every city of India.
Recently a friend of mine, walking on the footpath, was almost run over by a motor-cyclist who had apparently left the road and entered the side-walk to save time (yes his valuable time – the time he spends discussing fashion trends and latest item-numbers). My friend, an idealist he was, refused to step aside and give room for the biker to pass. In response, the biker continuously honked at him, and finally abused and overtook him.
Honking is a relatively small issue, but a great mirror to our mindset. While, I have no personal grudge against people who honk more than needed, I often wonder, what if the car and the bike horns had an additional inward speaker? What if the driver could hear his own honk as loud as the vehicle in-front? Would the streets become a quieter, friendlier and happier place?
It’s unfortunate that our roads are bad, not just because of the pits, but also because of the jerks in them. The noise, the dust, and the pollution makes one feel nauseated. While we can happily blame the government for most of our problems, the loud honking and the noise on roads is something that speaks in volumes about our hypocrisy. It speaks about our lack of apathy. About how inconsiderate we have become towards people who do not matter in our lives. The horn crusaders of Bangalore streets are the same men and women who sit quietly and talk politely in their air conditioned offices and high rise apartments.
Is this what our society has boiled down to? Is this our social justice system? It immediately reminds me of the Delhi gang rape incident which has created great turmoil. While the protesters have the huge faceless government to blame, we often tend to forget that it was we the people of India who killed her. After the incident, apparently, the girl had asked hundreds of passers-bys for help but like idiots people drove and walked past her. It was only after the highway patrol alerted the police that she was rushed to the nearby hospital. The delay of 2 hours, and the indifference and selfishness of several people like you and me killed the girl. I am sure many of the same bystanders, 2 days later, discussed the same issue enthusiastically, over cups of tea (or even participated in the protests). Remember, if we are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.
What kind of social justice is this? Falling back to our rich culture and heritage at home, and becoming extremely inconsiderate towards unknown people on streets. Such hypocrisy. It is high time we understand, that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.