Originally published in The News Blogs on 14 Dec 2012
What distinguishes a civilized society from others? Due to the subjective nature of the question there can be no universally accepted definition and the possible answers can result into a lengthy debate. However, there are some generally accepted measures that are considered a must for a civilized society and include safety, health care, food and shelter, system of law and government, education and freedom of speech etc. However two more factors can be further added to this list. These factors are more relevant to contemporary times and their presence or absence gives a deep insight about the society. First one is traffic on the roads and the second is system of taxation.
In order to get a feel about a nation or a society, first thing one can do is to just hit the road on a car or foot and observe closely. See how many cars are violating the traffic signals, do the people wear seat belts, are pedestrians given preference for crossing the road, what happens when school children have to cross a busy road, how many people overtake your car, How frequently people make use of a car horn, how many cars are parked near a No Parking Sign how swiftly an ambulance is given way and what exactly happens if some VIP is on the road?
The answers to above questions would give a clear understanding about that society. Thus in Stockholm one would hardly listen to a car horn unreasonably and in London, traffic would definitely stop for school children. In New York the violators of traffic signals, car parking and seat belts would get a ticket at the speed of light while in Ontario, ambulance would be given way in a couple of minutes if not seconds and one should not be amazed if traffic of Sydney comes to an actual halt for a wandering duck or a roaming kitten.
On the contrary in our region and specifically in our country the answers are quite obvious and practiced by many of us. Here the motorcyclists will invent new types of helmets made of their woolen caps or plastic utensils to abide by the helmet instructions, seat belts are placed around the waist on seeing a traffic warden, ambulances would be followed to get the clear road, the car horns would be at their peak near hospitals ,traffic signals would be adhered to only if they are complemented by a traffic sergeant, No Parking Here boards would be edited diligently to read Parking Here vehicle registration plates would be used to show the Royal lineage and caste or profession like Press or MNA, dark tainted windows would be used despite being prohibited, probably to hide the darker faces behind them, and above all this herd of roaring vehicles and screaming cars would come to a grand halt once a VVIP would do the honors of using the road in his royal cavalcade. Thus the undisciplined traffic is brought to discipline at once by a more undisciplined power drunk true representative of people. Diamond cuts the diamond.
Second important indicator of a modern civilized society is the taxpaying culture. In all the modern and developed nations the taxpaying culture is not only followed due to its strict enforcement by state but is considered a moral obligation and national duty. Hence, once the dead line for submitting the Tax return arrives, the tax return submission is only thing that occupies most of the minds. All the financial planning; commercial or personal are done keeping in view the Tax restrictions that would apply. Thus in 2008 a tiny principality of Liechtenstein in Germany became the center of tax evasion investigations and resulted in resign of a top official. On the contrary in a country like ours the conduct of parlimanterians, the so called leaders and true representative of people teaches us exactly what not to do rather than what to do once the matter of submitting tax return comes .