Is uncouth behaviour taking over courteous and dignified manner? It is difficult to think otherwise. There is no formal parameter to determine the level of such behaviour. Whether uncouth behaviour is on the rise or not cannot be captured by any tool. But there is little doubt that a growing number of people unashamedly practise the behaviour in public. Such a harsh assertion is based on observations of people's attitude and behaviour in general.
A number of reasons are there for turning more people uncouth in their behaviour. Lack of learning and training of manners and etiquettes, unwillingness to maintain discipline, extending moral support to selective crimes are some of those. Then there is a failure to realise the necessity of good behaviour. There is also a big gap in understanding the value of courtesy.
A section of people, however, argue that extreme poverty and hunger for many years compelled people to remain inattentive to basic courtesy and good behaviour. This is a flawed argument as poverty and hanger is not necessarily a barrier to polite and polished behaviour. Moreover, the phenomenal economic growth for the last one and half decades significantly reduced poverty and hunger. Rate of poverty came down to 20.50 per cent in FY18 from 48.90 per cent in FY02. The country now ranks 88th out of 117 countries in global hunger index, ahead of India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, these remarkable successes play little role to contain the increase of uncouth people in the country. Instead, a lack of good governance coupled with rise in bribe and corruption gradually and indirectly encourages many people to become uncouth.
There is a high social cost of the phenomenon which is reflected in different activities. Poor service delivery of different public offices is one of the examples. Most of the officials and staff-members of these offices are reluctant to provide services to people they deserve. Despite being digitised, in many cases the digital system is not paying off as 'men behind the machines' are dishonest and uncouth and care little about the quality of services. They behave badly with service seekers and a large number of them don't want to work without 'speed money.' Some of them even exercise their power by harassing people for nothing. They compel the public to spend additional time and money by delaying the work unnecessarily. In this process, disappointment and anger among people increase and they lose confidence in public bodies.
Uncouth people also create a lot of trouble in public spaces. They break discipline almost everywhere. Be it in public transports, roads or market places, they behave badly. They spit, litter and smoke on roads, they jostle in queues and don't bother to maintain a decent distance. In April this year, a group of young ladies made a campaign by wearing t-shirts marked Ga Gheshe Daraben Na (Don't stand close to the body). It was a protest campaign against female sexual harassment of women on roads and public transports. A number of uncouth people considered it negatively and trolled the campaigners in social media. This clearly shows that it becomes very difficult to deal with uncouth people. But this has to be addressed and a social campaign is necessary in favour of maintaining decency in public life.
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