Nepali Times Asian Paints
ARTHA BEED
Economic Sense
Moral police needed


ARTHA BEED


Close to this Beed's house is a manhole that has long remained gaping. This is not because locals like it that way but because every time an iron cover is installed, it is quickly stolen. In many temples you'll find children who are fast to pounce on offerings even before devotees can find where to place them.

Where are our civic sense and moral policing? Ride the metros of Delhi or Bangkok and you will note the absence of security personnel to warn you not to throw your trash inside the train cars. Instead, you are 'policed' by the stares and whispers of your fellow passengers if you dare to engage in such behaviour. Here in the United States, parents don't dare to leave their children alone in a car or even take a stroller on an escalator, so scared are they that people will complain to authorities. In Dallas you can see plain-clothes security officers who call the police if you have more than your quota at the bar, whether you are driving or not.

Why are we scared to throw trash in the streets of the US or Europe but do it thoughtlessly back home? Why is it that Nepali drivers never jump a red light outside the streets of their own country? Why do we diligently queue at the immigration counter in Delhi but as soon as we land at Kathmandu airport, we fling our departure cards at the officials and ignore the queue?

As fellow columnist CK Lal pointed out in his last article, the amount that Nepal spends on security is mind-boggling. If we did more moral policing there would be less need for security forces and we could divert some of this cash. We need a cracking security force to defend our sovereignty and to manage disasters but a lot of its mundane functions could be undertaken by citizens instilled with a
civic sense.

While the parties are negotiating the country's political stability, it is also important to explore how we can inculcate a better civic sense. Technology could be leveraged to encourage moral policing. For example, people with camera-equipped cell phones could take photos of traffic violators and send the pictures to a control room. Such whistle-blowing citizens could be protected from possible retaliation.

As we redefine our security concerns, it becomes equally important for the nation state to push the agenda of building civic sense and moral policing. The best place to start would be in our schools. Any takers?

www.arthabeed.com


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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