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Thursday, December 2, 2004

Who is at fault: People or the system?


When someone doesn't obey traffic rules, who is at fault? The perpetrator or the indifferent policeman or both?

Well, the other day, I got into this debate with an elderly gentleman. He felt it's the citizen's duty to obey rules. He quickly brought in Singapore, Europe and the US. And said, "Look at them, how well behaved they are."

Then I told him, "Look Sir, there the laws are not only very strict, they are also strictly imposed. Policemen don't look the other way, when you overspeed or cut the lane or jump the light. Here not only citizens are indisciplined, the police too are inefficient."

This gentleman is one who always believes that "We have to be always right, even if others are wrong." So, my argument that the system was also at fault didn't cut much ice with him.

For good measure I threw in my observation of how foreigners cross the road at Cauvery junction (between MG Road and Brigade Road) even when the pedestrian light is red. I am yet to find even one among the many foreigners on MG Road who deliberately waits for the pedestrian light to turn green evenwhile the natives cross the road regardless. Thus I am yet to be convinced about this argument that the Westerners are by nature law-abiding citizens.

They are, yes, law abiding, in their countries. Because, they have to be. We too are law abiding in other countries. Because, we have to be. We are not in our own country, because we don't have to be.

My gentleman friend was too gentlemanly to carry on the argument.

But this is my point: If someone out there is waiting for all citizens to turn spiritually enlightened to be on the righteous path on their own, please wake up.

Enforce discipline strictly. There will be some uneasiness, murmurs and protests. Within a week a good majority will fall in line. Within a month almost all will fall in line. Within a year, we will also be law abiding citizens. Like foreigners.

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