Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Doesn't a common man feel violated all the time?
The laws talk about violations as offences that need to be dealt with in court- traffic violations, sexual violations, copyright violations etc etc.
Are these the only forms of violation?
I contend that an average person on the street is seriously violated 24x7.
A self-respecting, law-abiding, humane individual cannot walk the road without feeling violated in every way.
His sense of peace and calm is violated by the cacophony of blaring horns.
He feels a constriction of physical space, thanks to the crowds around him all the time. Jostling with people of all kinds is unnerving and an assault on so many senses.
Are not footpaths his own patch of public space where he should be able to walk unheckled? But firstly, there are very few such spaces and out of the existing footpaths, parts are broken or are reduced to mud piles or encroached upon by street vendors. So where does he walk?
If he decides to cross the road only on the zebra crossing, again he has no such luck.Vehicular traffic has the right of way here. He can cross only when the vehicles permit him to. But wasn't the zebra crossing his space for crossing? Then why is he being violated in the usage of his own public space?
When inside 'his' space, his home, the violations do not cease. The constant sounds of traffic and horns are his companions day and night. The auditory violation is intense. The policewallahs danda makes his existence on the street a constant struggle for survival.
He has no control over these violations on his being, inside and outside his home.
Where should he go for peace and quiet?
Does he not ask, "Where is my own space?"
The space where I can walk freely. The space where I do not have to look over my shoulder every second for a fast-approaching car or for an on-the-prowl-pickpocketeer. The space where I can breathe fresh air, talk without screaming or repeating. The space where I walk without fear of being castigated for coming in the way of a vehicle. The space that allows me to be a self-respecting, law-abiding humane individual.
Does this space really exist for an average Indian on the street?
Does the constant violation not erode his self-worth and his self-esteem?
Can the pent-up emotions of frustration not push him over the brink to retaliate, take law in his own hands, rebel against those violating him?
For no one remains a victim forever.
The violated will some day violate- all rules and laws to make themselves heard and seen.
Watch out. It may happen to you and to me. Any day.
Give the person on the street his space!!!

1 comment:

  1. Mudita,

    A very timely post. I will share my experiences here. I find same vehicles parked on footpath near a market here on regular basis. I had told traffic police persons who were towing away vehicles parked on roadside a number of times. Their response was that it is not possible to tow away these as the footpath on road side is high and they can not take the tow vehicle on other side due to lack of space. I asked them that in that case why don't they stick challans on the vehicles and they told me that beat police persons can take action. So I told beat persons also a number of times and they replied that they would inform higher ups. The problem still exists. I now plan to visit DCP here and speak to him. Whenever I find vehicles on Zebra crossing at traffic lights when I am crossing the road, I tap the window and after appropriate greetings of the day politely request the driver not to encroach on that space. Mostly they apologize but there is one odd, usually a commercial vehicle driver or youngster who make faces. The corridor in the market is mostly encroached by shopkeeper by putting their wares. When I find space too crowded I tell the concerned shopkeeper to make space for walking. Once a shopkeeper told me that I can walk outside the corridor using open space. I asked him if he would like me to inform authorities about this. He made faces but asked his staff to remove some of the stuff. So it is upto us to demand space and get it.

    Take care