Last week, I received an email from http://theviewspaper.net/, India's largest youth paper.
It informed me about their campaign ‘the PMji Samjhoji! Letter-a-thon - The day India will write to its Prime Minister’, and asked me to send my letter to them which would be published on 2nd December along with the letters of eminent Indian personalities – journalists, educationalists, activists, musicians etc. who were also participating.
Here is the letter I wrote. It was published and here is the link to it. http://theviewspaper.net/soumya-hs-writes-a-letter-to-the-prime-minister/
It remains to be seen whether the prime minister will read it!
In a country, most of whose tall claims rise from its niche of spirituality, yoga, meditation and enlightenment, its ironical that nobody has any regards for silence.
I am wakened in the morning, not by the call of a cock nor a cuckoo, not by the murmur of a human voice, not even by my alarm clock, but by the rude, loud, honk of an automobile.
A day begun thus, moves from one noise to another, with all kinds of noises (that nobody needs) creating the most cacophonic tapestry of sound ever, woven so closely that it is silence proof.
I believe I have a right to go about my everyday life peacefully without being startled, vexed and abused by a rude jarring sound at every corner, every turn.
Just as air, water, food and clothing are our basic needs, silence too is a basic need - to me and to all people, whether or not they realise it.
Therefore, silence, I believe is our fundamental right.
Dear Respected Prime Minister,
I request you to accord this belief your recognition and protect our right with the help of measures, a few of which I have suggested below.
1) Every vehicle should be built with more effective silencers, may be double silencers, if we could have such a thing and all citizens should be required by law to drive/ride such vehicles only.
2) We should have a catalogue of permissible horn/beep sounds for every vehicle type – two wheelers, small four wheelers, buses/trucks/lorries, and each vehicle should be fitted with the horn defined for its type with no legal provision to change the horn. The catalogue should include music for the reverse gear too.
These sounds in the catalogue should be carefully chosen such that their frequency and loudness represent ‘humble requests to please allow me to pass’ and not ‘commands to get out of my way’.
3) It is becoming increasingly common in residential neighbourhoods to fit door frames with heavy metallic doors in addition to wooden doors to alleviate the perpetual fear and mistrust in which people are having to live in these times. And with that comes the excruciating pain of banging and clanging of metal doors, much to the misery of sensitive people like me. All metal doors should be required by law to have a rubber layering wherever they make contact with the frame so the bangs and clangs will be replaced by soft thuds.
4) Everyone owns a mobile phone these days. Most of these people make a nuisance of themselves in public, by using loud mobile ringtones, by shouting loudly into their phones, talking incessantly, playing loud music in buses and other public transportation.
School and college curricula should be revised to include lessons on mobile manners. This should be done for every grade so that repeated emphasis will help to implant the teaching in students with permanent effect.
5) With the sudden boom in economy that our country has seen in the last two decades, everyone is suddenly rich, and has acquired the arrogance of ‘new money’. Humility and restraint are scarce and the attitude of ‘its your problem not mine’ is rampant.
The sun sets but human activity continues well into the night without the diminishing of speed or intensity. Even after the lights are turned off I can hear from the floor above mine, people talking to each other loudly, guffawing, watching TV full volume, singing and more. When I ask them for my share of peace, I only get the response, ‘its your problem not mine’.
Again, people should be taught in schools/collages, lessons in public sense, manners and very importantly, ‘rights of neighbours’.
6) In cases 1, 2 and 3, enforcements can be and should be rigorous similar to road traffic policing.
Additionally, all citizens should be provided with the facility to report instances of violation both in cases 1, 2, 3 and well as 4 and 5. A toll free number as well as an email address should be made available to receive these complaints.
While violations of type 1, 2 and 3 may be handled as per law, we are somewhat helpless with cases 4 and 5.
The good old practises of social ostracism that guarded our society for thousands of years would have taken care of 4 and 5 but now, with the institution of society becoming eroded by individualism and freewill with non-responsibility as an inevitable accompaniment, we don’t have a way.
I would suggest measures like individual counselling, campaigning through media – Newspapers, Television, Radio, Internet etc.
Noise is a dangerous toxin. It befuddles the mind, makes focusing difficult, leads to distraction from purpose and meaning, causes or adds to stress, bitterness and frustration that are at the root of most of our problems.
May noise recede to occupy its proper place and silence heal all of us.