Time to re-look ‘ sab chalta hai’

Jim, my son’s colleague from Australia was sent on deputation for six months to the head-office of an Indian IT company located in Pune. However, within a fortnight of his stay in India, he was on the verge of nervous breakdown and had to be sent back.

Back in Sydney, Jim told his India story to his friends and colleagues, not a flattering narration but definitely insightful. While sharing his experience, Jim told how he felt absolutely fine within the beautiful sprawling campus of the company, but the moment he stepped out to go to his hotel, he became a nervous wreck. He commuted by a cab and hence, didn’t have to negotiate with the unruly traffic and the erratic drivers on the road, yet he could not shut his eyes to the happenings around. A scooterist riding on the pavement alarmed him; speeding drivers scraping past and the drivers changing lane without a signal unnerved him. Persistent honking, a hobby with the Indian drivers, maddened him. As if all this was not enough to make him a nervous wreck, there were heaps of garbage, the stench and sight of which he could not stand. Poor children tapping on the car windows at the traffic signals appalled him. He was shocked to see motorists jumping the traffic lights with impunity but, what he could never fathom was the presence of the stray cattle, our holy cow, let loose on the pathways.

Jim could not stand what we, in India, have learnt to ignore and take in our stride. He had a simple explanation, and quite convincing as well.  His reasoning was that in his country, right from the beginning, children are taught to assimilate and absorb everything that happens around them. He argued, “In India there is so much going on, quite a shock for the senses of someone who can’t block out any stimuli.”

I found a lot of substance in Jim’s argument and also some validation for our sab chalta hai attitude. We, Indians, are often blamed for glaring public apathy, indifference towards a lot of failings and wrongs.  I realized if we start absorbing and taking note of everything that happens around, we will lose our sanity. We have learnt to insulate ourselves from the chaos and mess around us. The unruly traffic may bother us but, somehow, we steer our vehicle by hook or crook. We manage to hold our breath and not let stench and deplorable mess affect our senses. Years of practice has taught us to consciously turn a blind eye to the ugly mess and be deaf to the clatter around us.

We may have learnt to ignore the chaotic mess and manage somehow but, this does not absolve us of our responsibility. If we keep breaking the rules and continue to be callous towards civic responsibilities, we will have to bear with rampant corruption, appalling poverty, dysfunctional system, unkempt public places, chaotic traffic and dirty surroundings. We may be past masters in Sab chalta hai attitude but it must go. Instead we need proactive approach to sort out the mess and weed out the ills from the society and the system so as to make India a better place to live in.


(Published in Chandigarh Tribune on July 25, 20190 )

16 Replies to “Time to re-look ‘ sab chalta hai’”

  1. Traffic rules, manners, and ettiquets should be in our primary education syllabus. Secondary, there is a mismanagement in our administration. If heavy penalty and imprisonment is provided in the law for abrogation of law, such incidents can be minimised. But our administration doesn’t give ear to such malpractices . These malpractices should be curbed in order to cease ill impression amongst the foreigners. Your article enlighten the public to avert such unwanted things. Thanks & Regards.

    1. Thanks Jijaji . Great to hear from you. You are right it is lax administration, but we are also to be blamed .We flout the rules with impunity and when caught we try to get away by hook or crook.
      wish to hear from you more often.

  2. Traffic decipline comes from self decipline which we Indian lack. It should be taught to children in school. Road accident deaths are perhaps highest in India & this has been admitted by Gadkari sir also. Even parents should also get involved in teaching traffic decipline to their children. Well written & useful article Mam

    1. Thanks for your feedback.True, we lack discipline. There is scant regard for the law. Right from the beginning children should be taught to follow the traffic rules. But how can we expect children to respect law when the grown ups and even cops can be found flouting the rules?

  3. True, chaos everywhere. Everybody doesn’t have the privilege of living in a new planned city like ours. Our national character has taken a nose dive – disrespect of authority at all levels coupled with deep rooted corruption

    1. You have nailed it – the national character!Corruption itself is a manifestation of our character.Sad indeed!We,in our moral education must stress upon the issue.

  4. A real picture of mismanaged traffic and scattered garbage around us is shown in yr article ..a very true concept of Indians….well written article…

  5. True the change has to come from within. Though doesn’t seem easy, let’s hope for the best.
    We all need to make a concerted effort.

  6. It is very true that this happens only in India.l have seen some NRI’s they forget their manners and take liberty of throwing banana peel or a wrapper on the road.My son never drives in India as he is afraid of the chaotic traffic here.Yesterday we were crossing a road in London Bodmin,the English man stopped his car to let us cross.Not only that he apologised for stopping the car too near us. I wish our people will learn the traffic etiquettes.

    1. Mrs Rahi, a wishful thinking ! It is high time we mend our ways . It’s strange when we are abroad we learn to be behave and back in India we become so callous !

  7. Pune is comparatively a clean,disciplined city and an IT hub where Jim stayed for an fortnight otherwise in rest of India situation is even worse. Madam, a recent viral video showed an Indian family caught stealing small household items in a hotel in Bali( Indonesia).What could be said?

    1. You are right Garima, Pune is one of the best cities in the country yet not as per the world standards.

      Regarding the video of a family stealing from a hotel in Indonesia, indeed shameful and disgraceful.
      No justification whatsoever! Supposed to be moneyed people out on a vacation to another nation and stooping so low to pick up stuff from the hotel.Now every Indian will be a suspect in their eyes .

  8. Yes Rama I do agree that unruly traffic in India is real cause of concern. It results into loss of precious lives in road accidents. We have become immune to these wrong doings and generally do not react. This needs to be changed. Every individual needs to take responsibility for this. By changing ourselves we can bring in change for better anywhere. Being cautious about traffic rules should be inculcated in every ones lifestyle from childhood. Parents & educational institution can play major & important role in bringing this positive change.
    Congratulations dear for very well written article on very important issue.

    1. Thanks Neelam. Getting endorsement from a childhood friend means a lot to me .You are right we need to change ourselves .’Swam parivantan mein vishwa parivartan.’

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