People from various fields shared their views on how to make Coimbatore a better place

How do we make Coimbatore a better place to live in? Five people tried to find out through ‘Let’s Talk’, a panel discussion organised by the Coimbatore Art and Theatrical Society. The panellists were Santhya Vikram of Yellow Train, R. Raveendran from RAAC, psychologist Purni Krishnakumar, entrepreneur Ranjana Singhal, lawyer C.G. Kumar and Shankar Vanavarayar, co-correspondent of Kumaraguru College of Technology. The event was moderated by Shobhana Kumar.

“It’s difficult to deal with educated people,” said Raveendran. Be it solid-waste management or tree-planting expeditions, people from villages were more cooperative, he said. “We recently held a rangoli contest in a village. The aim was to encourage people to clean their roads in the process.”

Raveendran said that most villagers participated actively. However, it would not have been the same with city-folk. “When I tried asking people to segregate garbage into dry and wet waste, even my neighbour didn’t do it.” This attitude of people must change, he said.

When it came to civic responsibilities, there was an “air of impatience” among the public, added Kumar. He spoke of how a lot of people used mobile phones while driving — an act that puts us and others in danger on the road. Marital discord was another area of concern. There are over 3000 applications for divorce every year in the family court today, while there were just 300 to 350 about 15 years ago, according to Kumar.

The change in the attitude of people is disturbing, agreed Ranjana. She spoke of how once every member of a family who dined in her restaurant was deep into their smartphones. “They had come there to connect. But there was a complete disconnect,” she said. Ranjana added that children who came for a party were more into their phones than their friends at the party. The reason behind such an attitude amidst today’s children is the availability of excess material goods, said Purni. Then there is the problem of excess pressure from parents. Shankar shared her view. He said that a lot of parents forced their children into engineering. Colleges are seen as “degree-printing factories” he said. One of his students spent the whole of his first week in college crying because he wanted to study something else, he added.

The problem lay in the education system. Santhya felt that a lot of schools today were “educational resorts” with swimming pools and golf courses. “Is this what our society needs?” she asked. People from the audience also gave suggestions on the need of the hour.

Though done with a noble intent, one feels that the discussion would have been more effective if people from the grassroots level were involved.