For any city to grow in holistic manner, citizens’ participation is a must. In a metropolis like Mumbai, the country’s fincial capital, it is a common sight to see even teegers cleaning up when their dogs relieve themselves while being taken out for a walk. Paper bags are taken out and the mess deposited in the nearest dustbin. Can we hope to see such civic sense in this part of the country, in Guwahati for instance, Gateway to Northeast India and aspiring to be a smart city? Civic sense among city denizens elsewhere, particularly among those at an age young enough to be rebellious, ought to set us thinking. When civic sense is so ingrained that it manifests as a tural instinct, it clearly demonstrates the sense of responsibility that enlightened citizens bear. The point to drive home here is that for Guwahati, billed as one of the fastest growing cities in the country, civic responsibility of its denizens and the way it is discharged holds the key between a top class city and a concrete jungle. For instance, when it comes to traffic rules, many users of the road seem to feel the road belongs to them. Be it city buses, auto-rickshaws, commercial private vehicles or two-wheelers — all wilfully disregard with alarming regularity the zebra crossings where every vehicle needs to halt for pedestrians to cross the road. Even footpaths meant for pedestrians in crowded business centres like Paltan Bazar are used by two-wheeler drivers to tide over traffic jams. And unnecessary honking seems to have caught the liking of Guwahatians. Compare this cacophony with the disciplined silent driving in most other countries. Parking is another mece in the city in many areas; the arterial Guwahati-Shillong road too is reduced to a rrow lane with double parking becoming the order of the day, making the road choc-a-bloc most of the time.
Another area of concern is the lack of public utility service like toilets along major roads of the city. A walk along GS road starting from Paltan Bazar point to Six Mile will show how few and far between are public toilets on the roadside. It is hardly a surprise that open urition on footpaths in areas like ABC and Bhangagarh leaves a lasting stench throughout the day, which is a health hazard. Civic bodies have to take their share of the blame for such continuing nuisance. Sadly, civic sense, or rather lack of it, doesn’t seem to bother most people across large parts of the country — and the mentality is similarly entrenched here. This attitude cuts across various social stratas too, with many thinking that keeping their own surroundings clean is the only thing that matters. But civic sense is something much larger, it means abiding by the laws, showing consideration for fellow citizens and regard for their living environment. While reams of words can be written about flash floods, poor traffic magement and shoddy garbage collection, it needs be ingrained into our social D that unless we acquire basic civic sense, our problems will be compounded further. The responsibility for infusing this among common citizens, particularly among students and youths, lies with the local administration and educatiol institutions. Civic sense is a barometer of social ethics. The earlier we imbibe it in our day-to-day life, the better for us all in terms of a cleaner environment, caring milieu and much improved social life.