More than the sum of one annual festival
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]agaland’s famous ‘festive season’ or ‘tourism season’ is round the corner and, not surprisingly, the notifications have started to make an appearance. These notifications and orders are perhaps even more famous than the actual festivities and planned events. A first among them for this year appeared a while ago with our honourable Minister for Roads calling for the repair of the highway passing through our State since the Hornbill Festival, which has apparently become the mother of all festivals, will soon be upon us.
Such stray notifications and orders start showing up around October and by the time November comes around there would be a literal flood with all and sundry authorities issuing one every other day – politicians, concerned departments, civic bodies, colony and other public leaders, and so on and so forth, all asking or ordering the repair of roads, dirt and messes to be cleared and houses and buildings to be cleaned and painted. All of them seem to suddenly wake up only at the fag end of the year to the need for good or at least acceptable roads and clean surroundings.The ridiculousness of such notifications cannot be over emphasised. With the blatant reference to the Hornbill Festival or the more subtle ‘festive season’, these notifications and orders are essentially asking everyone to put on an artificial veneer of civic sense and discipline. The message that one gets is that we have to put on a show for the expected horde of visitors, but it’s okay to be dirty and have ugly surroundings and atrocious roads the rest of the year.
There can be no second opinion that we are practically at the bottom of the civic sense scale. Civic sense is, of course, much more than just about keeping our surroundings clean; it encompasses unspoken norms of society that help it run smoothly without stepping on each other’s toes – such as abiding by laws, showing respect to and consideration for fellow human beings and maintaining decorum in public places. It is social ethics. There’s certainly much to be said on all these aspects. However, it’s our cleanliness or the lack of it that we are mainly referring to here. Nagas are without doubt very conscious of personal hygiene and keeping our homes and personal surroundings pretty, clean and neat. But outside of our immediate home surroundings is another matter altogether. There seems to be a deficiency in our collective psyche that does not allow us to recognise the wrong of littering, spitting and dumping our garbage anywhere and everywhere we please. Our streets and public places bear testimony to this with dark red paan spit staining the corners of all public buildings and empty snack packets, candy wrappers, water bottles, polythene bags and waste paper strewn all over the place. On the other hand, our roadsides are also constantly cluttered with building and various other materials as builders and homeowners obviously don’t give a second thought to fellow citizens.
So, given this scenario, this annual deluge of notifications calling for a rush sweep-over job is a shameful reflection of our society. The need for cleanliness and inculcation of better civic sense is surely worth more than the sum of one mere annual festival. Instead, a properly structured public campaign to effect behavioural change among the masses is crucial. Also, laying down strict laws and hefty fines for cluttering, littering and improper garbage disposal and, most importantly, strict enforcement of these laws and fines on everyone, big or small, will surely help bring about some positive change. Once the habit of public cleanliness and consciousness becomes a norm, we will always be ready to welcome visitors anytime of the year – without any apologies. Isn’t that a nice thought?