The Great Indian Footpath

Wide & Clean Footpath

The number of road accidents occurring in India is alarmingly increasing each year & according to a recent report, 25% of them constitute pedestrian related ones. Many reasons contribute: fault of the driver, fault of the pedestrians (the way they cross), of the Government and sometimes of destiny.

But one thing definitely forms a major cause; the sorry state of our footpaths.

Many lives would  had been saved and can be saved if the existing infrastructure was/is made  good , if the Government was/is careful and above all if the common people followed/follow the rules.

The sorry state of our footpaths

There is unequal distribution of footpath in India (why talk about wealth!! we have not even spared footpaths).

Let’s talk about Mumbai as I am it’s resident and know quite a lot about it. One would find different types of footpath here – some wide, some OK OK, some so narrow and some non-existent (although it exists in the record books of the local administration). Quite proud that our government provides us with so much different variety for one’s convenience, but the sad thing is we are provided only with Quantity and not Quality.

‘FOOT’ + ‘PATH’ = FOOTPATH, it  clearly means a path/way reserved only for the foot or may be Legs (something like Leg Path).

Footpath is meant for a pedestrian(a walking person) but in India , except  them, you would find everything else, motorbikes running, vehicles parked, animals having a good nap (why blame them!), shops encroaching, temples, food joints(that’s true), and even mother nature i.e. trees (why should she be behind if her creations are not ), and the worst-  groups (especially the corporate and college ones) shamelessly blocking the footpath, a great meeting point for them at the local tapri (FYI,tapri means a local cigarette joint).

Car parked on Footpath
Even Michael Schumacher does not possess the skill to park his car in this way!! Half-Road & Half-Footpath!!

It takes me additional 10 minutes to reach my office by the footpath as there is no other option, Jaan he toh Jahan he, Bhai!!

I don’t have the courage to walk on road where cars are always in their formula one mode (never understood why they are always in a hurry!! Punctuality? Ironically Indians are never on time including me! The only punctual person is the landlord and those who owe me something!). Nowadays, I even fear the footpath, for some celebrity car would dash me from behind although I am not asleep while I walk.

Anyways, in near future don’t be surprised if you find a jet plane landing  on our footpath. Quite possible!

Encroahments on Footpath-India
Where on earth should I walk?? Or is it a marketing strategy where one can pass only if one buys the newspaper!! Famous dialogue of our country – ‘Apna Kaam Banta toh Bhaad me Jaye Janta’

One can make out how rule-obedient we are from the fact that every area meant for walking has been encroached upon, be it the foot-over-bridge or the underground ones, especially the latter, these areas are not well-lit, a not-so-safe area, not only for women but for everyone, you would find ‘addas’ i.e. place for group of men who look intimidating (they are the rulers there, as if the government has provided it for them.

Forget about us; imagine the trouble undertaken by physically challenged people!! How hard it must be for them to access our public space (greatly feel sorry for them as they have to suffer because of the unconcerned attitude of others).

Dog on a footpath-India
Like A Boss!! The Animals are not to be blamed, how would they know it’s a no-sleep area when we have destroyed their natural resting place?

I believe that if the Government can teach us where to urinate, where not to litter, then it’s quite suitable and appropriate if they also teach us where to walk and how to walk ( we Indians are to be taught everything!!). Something in the tune of    ‘Footpath Badao, Footpath Bachao Abhiyan’ would be apt.

That’s the reason why many have preferred their own cars,bikes,but that’s another grave issue leading to more problems in the form of more traffic, more jams,more accidents, pollution and the cycle goes on, while others prefer public transport– local trains, public buses etc. but we all know how convenient it is to travel in our public transport which is unbelievably crowded, especially the locals in which  you even find class differences, the first class and the second class, although both seems to be packed out of capacity (compare the cost of fare, seems like those who travel from the 2nd class belong to some poor African country  who can’t afford it while the other of some ultra-rich European country , maybe Luxembourg).

Enough of the blame game and  mudslinging, time to do something; action is required from all of us no matter how small.

Question- Where does the fault & responsibility of the government lie?

We have an infrastructure already present (although unplanned and unorganized one), the main problem lies in the attitude and the lackadaisical approach of the administration, all they do is build and there you go! They build roads, footpaths but forget one thing, who on earth will monitor it!? Donald Trump?  Who will audit the construction of the project, to see whether all is done perfectly!? Abu Bakr al Bagdadi? (If you do not know him, Search! may be a Nobel Laureate).

Hawkers encroaching footpath.
FOOD-PATH OR FOOT-PATH?

The bureaucracy who is in charge of it turns a blind eye to it (they get money from the encroachments) and who loses? The rule-following common man (aam-aadmi, mango man and many other names!) who regularly pays taxes so that his/her life becomes convenient.

But that’s not all!! Government is to be blamed but the blame also goes to the irresponsible people who want everything from the administration but give nothing good from their side.

If the shopkeeper does not encroach upon the extra area on the footpath, how will the bureaucracy become corrupt? If the motorists do not park on the area obstructing the footpath, how will accidents occur?? The great scheme called the ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ would not be successful, no matter who comes to power, until and unless the common, careless man won’t stop spitting and littering on the road side! And that’s totally true, how can we ask our representatives to do everything for us if we ourselves are not being responsible for it!

So, here are some tips that I think can be done by anyone and requires no extra effort (at least the younger generation can do it).

  1. Do not block the footpath either when you are alone or with a group.

2. Do not park on the footpath (yes! it’s true and very easy to park on it).

3. Please do not spit,litter as it feels very gross and inconvenient to walk.

4. May be if you have a shop, do not encroach if you are the decision-maker or else         persuade you dad/uncle or anyone who owns it and make them aware of the wrong act and its consequences.

5. When you see some old/physically challenged person or pregnant woman, children, let them pass by comfortably (deliberately not included Girls who are fit and able to walk, as I have seen them blocking footpaths chatting and get a negative  look and response, when I request them to move! Are they unaware of whats app?!)

6. You can complain to the relevant authorities, the local administration. Many of the local bodies have a web page where you can send your grievances, do not miss to take a photo, call them/post them, infinite no of ways and the best thing is you will remain unknown (so no threat to any one’s life!! A little bit of exaggeration here). Some may say of what use is it?! As the administration won’t listen, yeah! That’s true but that’s their responsibility & fault, you should perform your role as a responsible citizen. At least you will feel proud & consider yourself as a good citizen giving back something in return to the society, may be not in the eyes of others but definitely deep down in your heart!!

urban local body of greater mumbai
Web Page of MCGM (urban local body of Greater Mumbai), looks very confusing!!

7. Remove the attitude of ‘Chalta he’. This is the single most important word and thing, the mightiest, that has blocked India’s Development!!

And finally, Spread Awareness & spread the blog!

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”- M.K Gandhi

 

I am not an activist and these were my simple ideas that I do, except the sixth point (I’ll do it soon). There may be many good tips left out that you can suggest.

Peace!!!

Keep reading & Keep learning! Remember, Knowledge & Exercise are the only two things that never go unused!

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