People’s Civic Sensibility

Dr Asangba Tzudir

Civility seems to have reached a point where it hardly features even as a footnote in the larger pool of things that are important or considered important. Over the years, on the aspect of cleanliness, there have been cleanliness drive and awareness campaigns among various sections of society as well as in various institutions. There has been enough of social works to provoke the consciousness of the people on the importance of cleanliness, but today it has taken a different form which is more engulfed in ‘symbolism’ and ‘promotional’ without really touching the core essence of our sensibilities which is required to understand the need to maintain cleanliness as a morally obligated duty stemmed out of responsibility. For instance, notices like imposing fines for dumping defaulters’ attests to the fact that the civic sense is missing. A civilized society does not actually require such notifications. However, cleanliness and civic sensibilities seems to be deeply entrenched within a mindset that sees only the need to keep one’s house and to some extent the extended surroundings clean. 

The word civic itself means city or town, and sense connotes awareness. As such, civic sense pertains to the awareness of the norms of the society, written or unwritten, about the law and order, maintaining etiquette and discharging ones duty as a responsible member of the society.

With the emerging environmental concerns, cleanliness and hygiene which are universally regarded as indispensable has become a very important consideration. Sadly, there is need for broadening of mindsets from keeping one’s home and surroundings clean to keeping the town and city clean. The mindset also needs an understanding that the responsibility is not passed on, but one’s responsibility.

The menace of deterioration of the environment due to indiscriminate throwing of garbage and littering around calls for a sincere reflection on the prevailing deplorable condition of civic sense which finds reflected through our actions which seems to have gone down the drain and flowing in equal measure with the garbage. In one way or the other, we are all guilty of polluting our environment through our various uncivilized acts. There are the spitters, the Paan and tobacoo chewers who spits at will, the urinators, the litterers and the garbage dumpers. Our rivers are so polluted by garbage; the groundwater too is no more safe for drinking. It has caused a lot of health hazards. Where is our civic sensibility as a meaningful human?  Let it be reminded that our ‘uncivilized’ acts only create conflicts and destroys our environment, and thereby our well-being. Consequently, we suffer from the ill-effects of pollution and its associated diseases. Truth be told, our forefathers within their own limits and understanding held the environment with much reverence and were more conscious about the importance of keeping a healthy and ‘balanced’ bonding with the environment and for its healthy growth. 

While proper orientation towards cleanliness and hygiene is much desired, there is need for ‘sweeping’ changes beginning with broadening our mindsets with a heart and mind for keeping a clean and healthy environment. Towards this end, an urgent resurgence of our civic sensibility is thus needed.

(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes weekly guest editorials to The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to asangtz@gmail.com)