The City of Chaos – New Delhi

A Delhiite is rarely fortunate enough to find – an auto driver readily starting the meter, without a spirited fight against the idea; the general public on roads obeying traffic rules of their own accord, even at five in the morning; and, policemen standing guard to protect citizens every 100 meters – and yet that was what I happened to witness on the morning of August the 15th.

Perhaps the occasion of our Independence Day was too big for the auto driver to take the unrighteous path, and it could have been his way of answering to the call of patriotism that seems to make its way into our hearts on such occasions. Policemen, on the other hand, sure had orders from the powers that be. One wishes to see the city so protected, so fearless under dark, all the time. If only we could have a fraction of this force to safeguard us in a similar fashion every day, Delhi would really justify the title as the Capital of India. With this ubiquitous sight of police force with rifles, it was hardly a surprise to see cars giving way to autos, autos doing the same for pedestrians, and pedestrians actually using zebra crossing.

Not just that, everyone around seemed to have been made aware of their rights and duties. And, as a result; pavements were left for the people on foot, reluctantly though; full width of the roads was up for use, making one wonder where the perpetually parked vehicles vanished to; and queues remained unbroken by impatient intruders. The feeling was overwhelming. Another reminder that things can work so well. Not everything is out of control. People do understand rules. Sense of responsibility exists – even if it requires an external force to pull it out of us.

This makes me imagine if we can have an August 15th every day. No fights in road rage, no exorbitant demands from auto-drivers, a feeling of security for women in Delhi, greatly controlled traffic jams, and lesser accidents due to traffic-rule violations. Some would say it is an unfair demand on the city of chaos. Indeed it is. It is not possible to imitate and implement what we do on an Independence day throughout the year. But if it can be done on one occasion, we cannot deny the existence of capability. Administration will have to do the feasibility checks, however the achievement of the feat depends on a collaborative effort. A small bit from every citizen will immensely help the cause. Just try letting the other car cross before you do on a crossroads with a defunct traffic light, and slow down for a pedestrian even if it is a green light, or cross the road only on a red light for that matter. Some day, taking such small steps would prove beneficial. We should not wait for an Independence Day to arouse our duties and patriotism within. Patriotism can be exhibited even by small acts of responsibility. We don’t all need to go fight on the borders.

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