Recently, I came across this great discussion on Quora.com, a popular network for Questions & Answers. The thread begins with a fairly simple question that one would simply ignore or even scoff at. It says, ‘how to become a responsible citizen of India’. There are many replies from the audiences, but one really stands out and receives standing ovation from the users.
Here, I shared the answers for our community members and I liked that they really found the points useful, thought provoking and inspiring.
This left me thinking if we, the eternal lovers of this city, can enlist a number of things that we should be doing to consider ourselves a ‘responsible’ citizen of this city. This is based on the presumption that many people would simply say they love the city for the sake of it, but if you closely look at their day to day conduct, they might as well not come across that responsible in their behavior.
There could be many things that make us a responsible citizen, but I think it’s fair enough to ask ourselves these six questions to figure out where we stand on the loyalty scale.
Do I Obey The Traffic Rules?
Most often, we have heard people complaining about the traffic management mechanism in the city and the poor quality roads at many places. Yes, its true that many places of our city dont the most ideal road or sidewalks for the pedestrians or parking lots. But, does that really mean one should park one’s vehicles on the roads, adding to the traffic congestions already present on the narrow roads? How does it help to make the city better?
How is the city traffic mechanism responsible if you drive at a break neck speed just because you are riding a bike with your girl? Are you on a joy ride or carrying a patient to some hospital?
No one is smart enough to get around the traffic rules that require them to obey traffic rules. That hardly makes us a responsible citizen or this city better. If we truly want our city to be the best, let’s start showing our best behaviors on the road. And, yes, just because our traffic rules don’t say anything about it, let’s stop assuming that city roads are the spitting zones or open urinals. Not everything can be defined by the traffic rulebook; there are things called discretions and civic sense.
Do I Keep The City Clean?
Agree that it’s the responsibility of the BMC to keep the city clean. But can the civic body keep the entire city clean on their own? Cleanliness in public places is a two-way process and it requires us to realize we must hold all public places close to our heart as if they were a part of our living room. As a matter of fact, many things we use at public places have been built with our hard-earned money i.e., taxes. It’s really surprising how many of us tend to forget this simple reality. Even if something doesn’t belong to us doesn’t mean we have the rights to denigrate it. Every time they pee against a wall, spit on the roads where they walk or litter the spaces used by their fellow citizens, they lose their right to call themselves a part of the city.
Do I Behave Myself at Public Places?
It seems like many people don’t really differentiate between a public place and private space. They treat a cinema hall or public park as their own by assuming they were sitting inside it alone, selfishly ignoring others that clearly surround them. How often we’ve been embarrassed by the unruly audiences in the city theaters while watching a movie! How often have we seen people talking to someone on their cellphones inside the movie theaters! How often have we felt awkward by the constant loud talk of a random group of young people inside a coffee shop! There are so many things we’re not supposed to be doing at public places but we do, completely ignoring the people that surround us. Have you ever felt you behavior could offend someone in public places?
Do I Treat My Women/Senior Citizens with Respect?
A great city is where the citizens treat their women, senior citizens with a great deal of respect. While standing in a queue or travelling in public transport, it’s a sign of respect to allow women and elderly people to have the first chance. How often do we sacrifice our seat for the comfort of an elderly fellow traveller or a woman in the public transport?
Do I Lend a Helping Hand to Tourists?
Tourists are the guests our city and they help our tourism economy grow. It’s our responsibility to treat them with care whenever possible. Whenever we see a random visitor roaming around the streets asking for help, we must walk to up to them and ask if we could help. It not only creates a wonderful example of awesome citizenship, it also creates an indelible positive impression in their minds for our city.
Do I Use Water/Electricity/Fuel With Utmost Care?
Being a great citizen is not only limited to doing well at public places; it’s also about contributing to city’s climate positively. Ever wondered how positively we could change the city if we consumed water, electricity or fuel in a responsible manner? How wonderful our city would be without much vehicular pollution or traffic consumption if we learn to use public transport much more than using our own vehicle unnecessarily. How wonderful it would be if we could contain our greed to overuse or even waste the electricity!
A city is as only as rich as its heritage and citizens. Irresponsible and insensitive citizens cannot expect their city to proposer when they have virtually nothing to offer in the making of a great city. This simple yet fundamental truth shapes and guides cities across the world.
Every one of us is essentially an ambassador of our city. We represent and shape our city though our conduct and approach. Therefore, it is highly pointless to blame the city without doing your bit.
So before you start blaming your city, look within yourself and ask, “Am I a good/bad/ugly ambassador of this city?”