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Where India fails: Multiculturalism and civic discipline

Dubai Photograph:( WION )

WION Dubai - United Arab Emirates Feb 21, 2019, 07.41 PM (IST) Written By: Kartikeya Sharma

More, I travel abroad, my fascination for multiculturalism and civic discipline increase by leaps and bound. I had a strange encounter in Dubai recently. It is not allowed to pick passengers by taxis apart from hotels or designated stops.

In this case, I was sauntering at Dubai's Marina front and wanted to immediately return to the hotel. Instead of walking back to the designated spot, I insisted that the driver come to me for the pick-up. He asked me to go to a nearby hotel so that he could pick me up. While we were walking towards the hotel, the car arrived right in front of the hotel and the barrier was still down. As usual, I and my friends rushed inside the car and asked him to start the vehicle. 

The barrier opened, and we went inside the hotel and took a U-turn through the porch to come out of the property. On return, our car was pulled aside, and our driver received an earful from the security guard for picking up passengers from the road. 

Rest of us inside the car maintained a pin drop silence. The security guard kept on repeating that the law has been violated and he should have waited for the barrier to open and guests should have been picked from inside.  It resulted in a verbal brawl even as our driver kept on apologizing. He eventually let us go but I don’t think that this could have happened in India.

Interestingly, both the driver and security guard were from India. In 90 per cent of such cases in India, the guard wouldn't have taken pains to point out the error, and of course, the passenger wouldn't have bothered. 

Civic discipline is fundamental to the functioning of any democracy. It protects civil society from the rough edges of powerful and rich as discipline on the ground remains equal for everyone. Same is the case in Singapore where the application of law on the ground level does not discriminate between the powerful and less powerful. 

However, In India, democracy has been reduced only to elections. Though it is a matter of great pride that India since independence unlike many other nations has been successfully conducting elections making the transition of power peaceful. But it has failed in installing sense civic discipline in society. It is for this reason our civic infrastructure and law and order situation continues to remain problematic.

This very lack of civil discipline has also affected the emergence of peaceful multiculturalism in India. Regularly students from the North-East become objects of stereotype and violence in Delhi. North Indians receive rough treatment in Mumbai over economic issues. In the name of job protest, caste-based groups bring cities and towns to a halt. Even controversial films lead to violence. It is a result of civic indiscipline whereby one individual does not respect the right of another individual. 

For example, both Singapore and Dubai have different cultures and dominant religion but have been successful in transforming the attitude of their society. In both countries, people from across the world work. Both cities are extremely multicultural and at the same time ensure that civic discipline remains the hallmark of their daily life. 

In my opinion, it is the latter which ensures that the former can take root in society. It ensures that community or class does not trample over the right of an individual which is essential for a country to become multicultural. The ugly Indian brawls in top cities over the ownership of jobs and infrastructure which aptly shows why Indian cities have not evolved a true multicultural spirit. 

The only way India can become truly multicultural and disciplined is by ensuring that civic discipline along with gender sensitisation becomes a priority. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)

Kartikeya Sharma

Kartikeya Sharma is Political Editor at WION. When he is not working, you will find him travelling, reading or cooking.

Story highlights

In India, democracy has been reduced only to elections.