A general disregard for safety is what unites us as a people more than anything in this part of the subcontinent. Its evident in all walks of our lives, in the way we go about business on a day to day basis as if there’s no tomorrow, from our homes to the way we drive on our roads, ride our trains and buses,the way our kids get to school. Yes, its true that we are forced by the government machinery and the system as a whole to make do with makeshift infrastructure.”Jugaad” is what we live by. But that doesn’t explain the mob psychology which assumes that its okay to overlook the risk factors even in situations where safety should be a prime concern.
The loss of three lives in a manhole in one of our cities is still fresh in our collective memory but we know for a fact that the way the manholes are accessed hasn’t changed a bit. If a guy falls off a coconut tree you will look for another guy to do his job. If a tree that was ominously looming over a road falls and crushes a school bus, the school moves on and buys a new bus. If a boat capsizes no bridges are built, nor are they going to stock any life jackets, come to think of it we live in a world where you have a life jacket under every seat for something that flies in the air but you don’t have that for something that floats on water. Something’s wrong with us for sure.
Personally I obsess with worst case scenarios when I find myself in situations over which I have absolutely no control, even more so when there’s family around. I recall how i was thinking of ways to escape, once when I found myself inside a popular temple in Kerala jam packed with devotees on a day when the deity was being paraded ceremonially around the sanctum sanctorum atop elephants and in case they ran amok,I decided that jumping into the well that was next to me was the only option available. Faith has a way of forcing the best of us into places where salvation somehow matters more than reason and sense. Maybe that explains how amidst the blame games, even before the dead have been buried we still can’t decide if we should set off the fireworks or not in the next big event where we also display our heritage and culture by giving wild animals who would otherwise be roaming free in the jungles where they belong a chance to carry us on their backs and thus be blessed by our gods in absentia. Well, how hard is it to take a decision when the body count is still on? And to sum up, to implement safety regulations the authorities would do good to at least spell it right, to start with.