If there is one thing us Indians do conform to, it is that we are largely non-conformists! We swear by the adage~”Rules are meant to be broken.” It’s not that we can’t be dutiful, law-abiding citizens (just look at our disciplined NRIs for perfect examples of that breed), but somehow there lurks inside us a rebel streak that looks at a rule and immediately reacts with “do-I-need-to-follow-this” or worse “how-do-I-break-this?” Unquestioning adherence, whatever the circumstances, is not for us. We need to constantly evaluate and figure out if it is worth our while to kowtow to a greater authority or to sneak past!
Just drive around our city roads to bear out this truth. How many fellow countrymen do you know who seeing a red light at a traffic signal with no other vehicle on the roads would still stop and wait for it to turn green? Most of us are habitual offenders there for it just seems a silly thing to do! As for overtaking the vehicle in front, many would look at you in amazement if you told them there are rules on how one is supposed to go about there. (Really? You just use your common sense, steel your nerves and surge ahead!!). Parking under a no-parking sign; as many as five people on a two-wheeler; ticketless travel on trains; overloading of trucks; seats marked “women and elderly only” occupied by young men; crossing with your bicycle from under a closed gate at a railway crossing; spitting, urinating on public walls; not wearing a helmet or seat belt; talking on your mobile while driving (even on a two wheeler)…pictures of such violations keep doing the rounds on social-media under banners like “Why we are kings among rule-breakers!” Plain swagger or sarcasm…i wonder?!
Many reasons are ascribed for this behaviour beginning with it’s a “hangover from our colonial past”~ thumbing our nose at a foreign ruler is how we got our freedom didn’t we? Further reasoning given would be that some of our archaic laws need to be re-worked for contemporary times, so unless we draw attention by breaking them how will they be amended? Then there is the rampant corruption that exists at every level. Rules are easy to flout because even if you get caught, greasing a few palms or making a couple of calls to some influential person in your extended circle of family and friends is enough to get you out of the mess. Above all there is the lack of adequate deterrence in terms of low fines imposed and want of will for strict enforcement and implementation. Imagine a fine equivalent to USD 10,000 for DUI (that’s what the offence would cost you in some states in the U.S.) in our country? Or a fine of Euros 100 for parking in the wrong place and policemen who won’t accept a small percentage of that fine as gratification and let you off…believe me, we too would be diligent rule-followers!
Till then, in our defence we shrug our shoulders and repeat that ‘swag-line’ so popularly used by the young to define their attitude “What to do, we are like this only!!”