The other day I was ruminating on the warning inside the train compartment which read, “Do not play the radio if objected to by co- passengers.” I felt it was quite obsolete, what with people plugging their iPods and mobile phones (which double for a radio, music player, et al). In fact, the sudden and alarming ring tones of the mobile phones and consequent long and loud conversation are more annoying than the once ubiquitous transistor. I actually enjoyed the mellifluous and soulful melodies of yesteryear. The diction and lyrics were discernible and never drowned by drum beats or the background score. That's the reason why the soothing melodies of Latha, Rafi and Suseela are well received even today.
Coming back to the warning, often times we find the statutory warning being observed more in breach than in compliance. Effectively, the warning on the cigarette pack should read, “smoking is injurious to others' health and yours too.” The passive smokers are more harmed than the smokers themselves! Nobody heeds or cares for the warning, I feel. “Trespassers will be prosecuted,” screams a board. I find people darting across the railway track, sometimes with their two wheelers too! We have mastered the art of breaking the rules wilfully and bypassing them nonchalantly. Spitting and answering natures' call in public have been taken as a fundamental right. The paan-stained staircases and street corners vouch for the same.
Many feel the enforcement of the law should be stringent. It must be done without fear or favour. Singapore enforces it to perfection and there is order and compliance amongst multi-racial community. In fact, my colleague had a harrowing experiencing at Singapore a few years ago. Not knowing that chewing gum was banned, he was preparing to throw the chewed gum in a dustbin when the strong arm of the law handcuffed him. He had no clue to what was happening and learnt to his consternation that “ignorance of law “was no excuse. He was let off after a stiff penalty and not before a frightful and unforgettable experience. ‘You guessed it right'. He cut short his holiday plans and took the first flight home.
On another occasion, a friend of mine was hauled up for crossing the road other than the designated point. The constable started writing the challan for a penalty of 25 Singapore dollars. Our friend of Indian-origin promptly pulled out his identity card proclaiming as an air force instructor at Singapore. Spotting it, the policeman doubled the penalty. “As a responsible government officer, you should be setting an example to others,” he said much to the chagrin of my distraught friend.
Personally, I believe in the avowed policy of ‘live and let live'. Precisely why, my schoolgoing son has never taken me seriously. The other day my wife took me to task for not monitoring the progress as the plus two exams were fast approaching. More to put a stop to her nagging than to assert my authority, I pulled him up immediately, on his return from school. He was more amused than annoyed and went about his routine as usual. My rebuke had not impacted him at all, or so it seemed. Out of the kitchen I heard my wife scream, “You sounded more like that statutory warning on the cigarette pack”. I was non-plussed.
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