DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bhopal Notes :: 42 :: Diwali Blues - Thumbing Nose at Apex Court

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We, in the older part of Bhopal are still trying to catch up with our sleep after the horrendously loud bangs on Diwali night and the night after that. These were terrible nights and the perpetrators of this torture were particularly sadistic. During the earlier part of the night it would be all quiet and nice. The bangs would come later, closer to midnight and would continue up to 3.00 AM. One would be rudely shaken out of sleep if ever one managed to literally steal forty winks. Their mission seemed to have been not to allow sleep in the neighbourhood regardless of age or sickness of those who happened to be around.


These young sadists were thumbing their noses at the Apex Court which had ordered about a couple of years ago that loud noise including that made by fireworks would be restricted up to 10.00 PM. That was a decent hour to collect one’s crackers and go to bed, allowing people, particularly the seniors, a bit of quietude for them to sleep. But no, who is going to do that? Who is going to obey the order which they thought was issued by imbecile judges? Pleasure of self is more important, after all, Diwali comes only once a year. What if all these high decibels cause a little unease, especially to those who are hardly of any use to the society, anyway?


We are progressively becoming a third rate nation where a large chunk of the population revels in not playing by the rules – or, for that matter, laws. According to them laws are to be broken. Things are made easy for them in their lawless pursuits by the lack or absence of effort to enforce them by the law enforcement agencies. Walk out, if you can on the streets, and see the laws being torn to tatters. Encroachments galore, handcarts choking the traffic, which, in any case, doesn’t give a damn for the rules of the roads. These have become death-traps where chaos and mayhem rule. Numerous precious lives have been lost in the mad and undisciplined traffic that rules the streets. Traffic Police treats deviances with kid gloves. There’s no enforcement though the physical presence of the law may be visible. If daily nightmare of anarchic traffic is not being governed who is going to take governance to annual inconveniences of two or three nights of Diwali. This state is, perhaps, the best example of non-governance in almost every department.


 And, the claim is it is the fastest growing state. Do non-governance and economic growth go together? More the non-governance, the greater is the state’s gross domestic product – is that what the government is aiming at regardless of how the citizens are hassled every day. If that is the lot of common men why have a Department of Happiness when people’s unhappiness quotient is being raised  because of the state’s non-governance and mis-governance.


 The night after Diwali a haze hung over the Upper Lake and most of the city. I know since I can see the vast spread of the Lake and a tiny portion of New Bhopal from my windows. Television news channels showed how Delhi was being choked with smog. Isn’t that a lesson for most of the cities, particularly in the up-country? In Delhi, Lucknow, Patna and myriad other towns normal life was impaired, children were choking and they were forced to wear masks. Is this the future that we are leading them to – a life of misery, bronchial allergy, emphysema, impaired respiratory health, asthma, even cancer of lungs? After-effects of Diwali revelry continue lengthening people’s misery. Why cannot air pollution be checked, especially that which is created by fireworks and firecrackers in an episodic manner? The governments have to have the will to curb, even ban such unhealthy and thoughtless activities indulged in by even the majority community for the larger good instead of trying to nurse their vote banks. Okay, forget about the old and the sick; at least, think of your children, the future of the country.


While parting a word about the Apex Court’s decision is necessary. It had come down heavily against noise pollution between 10.00PM and 06.00AM as far back as in 2005. Its orders have been observed more in breach than in compliance. The state governments which have the power to control this kind of pollution are just not bothered and the politicians concerned feel that any action to curb noise pollution caused especially because of religious sentiments would cut into their votes. Hence complete liberty prevails in regard to creating as much noise as one possibly can. The point that needs consideration is why issue orders that one cannot enforce. Such instances of failure of law laid by the Apex Court detracts from its majesty and dignity, especially when its orders are made light of by much lesser men of the state governments.

*Photo from internet
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