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Individual responsibility in a Society

Views on 'Individual responsibility in a Society'

Kishore C.S. (September 2000)

Being a responsible individual is very important for the progress of society. A major difference I have been observed between other countries and India is the basic difference is in this single factor of ‘Individual responsibility towards society’.

Whenever I think of this topic I am reminded of the following famous fable:

Once upon a time a king ordered people of his kingdom to bring a cup of milk and pour it in the big vessel kept outside his court for collection of the same. Through out the day every one in the country came and poured milk in the vessel. End of the day when the king inspected the vessel he found it full of water.

There is no need to explain what happened in the above story. ‘Every citizen thought since everyone else would bring milk, even if he pours water no one would notice’.

In my opinion two factors effect the motivation of individual towards the society

Pride: Having pride for the country, state, region or even locality makes a major difference in my opinion. Many countries take pride in following rules. They take pride every single aspect of their nation.

When I was touring Singapore, the pride of the citizens for their cleanliness and discipline made a deep impression on my mind.

I found myself wondering:

  • Do I take pride in the society you live in?
  • Do I take pride in following road rules always?
  • Do I take pride for living in the cleanest locality of your city?

Fear: Fear of law is another major motivation. Law enforcement is very strict and any violation can lead to penalties that cannot be reversed. In observance of traffic rules in US, even at midnight when the likelihood of a traffic cop being around is very unlikely the rules are still observed.

Factor that de-motivates an individual in following rules of society:

80-20 rule: Though 80 percent of people are law abiding citizens, remaining 20 percent who get away from law even after violations. This 20 percent tend to influence others to abandon their discipline. When this happens the balance tends to get disturbed.

What can be done to ensure this de-motivation does not tilt the balance.

  • Don’t get tempted by the 20 percent who get away and start voicing criticism and destroy pride and confidence. Instead appreciate citizens who abide by laws and encourage discipline. And come what may be a responsible citizen always.

I am not trying to make any judgement on this attitude but felt should share my thoughts on what I feel when someone passes negative comments on the very country, region or locality we live in without realizing their own responsibility to the same. Hope my views make sense. Any society cannot progress without this basic awareness that motivates individual to strive for the progress of society and build a new world that one can be proud of.