By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, November 5, 2018: What happened in Amritsar when a speeding train simply mowed down several people while watching Ravanapodi, a ritual on the occasion of Dussehra (symbolising the triumph of good over evil) while squatting on the railway track totally unconcerned about the impending danger, and what happened when several elephants were electrocuted in Odisha when they contacted 11 KV HT line reflect how unconcerned, callous and indifferent the society is about the safety.

How distant we all are from the culture of safety. When the word society is used it means to cover people from all walks of life including the officials of the government, regulatory institutions, managers, corporate bodies etc. It is not uncommon to see the news that trains run over people and vehicles at the unmanned railway crossings, killing of elephants and cattle on rail track, ordinary people including the linesmen getting killed when they touch high voltage electric lines.

The suburban trains in Mumbai routinely take precious lives. Bridges collapse causing death to innocent and unsuspecting people. At the religious congregations people die of suffocation due to stampede. Road accidents take more lives than deadly ailments. Disasters in mining operation and accidents in factory are common features.

As the population increases, industrial and economic activities expand with a greater number of vehicles on the road, more factories, construction projects and mining operations one would see more such tragic news. The question now is – will there be any increase in consciousness among the members of the Indian society regarding safety?

There is no dearth of laws, rules, regulations, procedures and instructions in each domain of activities regarding safety. Equally true, there is no shortage of knowledge. Technology is changing, and evolving that too very fast, sometimes at unbelievable pace to address issues relating to safety, and more so with internet, dissemination is at unimaginable speed. There are seminars, workshops, conclaves, meetings and conferences without any limit being organized by the government, corporates, and civil society organizations. Top political leaders, senior civil servants, high ranking corporate executives and learned academicians attend such congregations urging everyone to be become more safety conscious. There are plethora of well-written papers, dazzling power-point presentations, and impassioned and magnificent speeches.

In spite of all these when tragic accident takes place there is blame game and wide media coverage, appointment of enquiring bodies and then after some days ,public memory being proverbially short, everything is forgotten until the society is struck by another tragedy even more painful than before.

In the recent Safety Conclave organized by Institute of Quality and Environment Management Services which has been relentlessly making pioneering effort for a decade to create culture of safety in the society, Geeta Behen, Senior Instructor, Rajyoga Education and Research Foundation, Mount Abu eloquently and forcefully urged the need for management of mind which leads to management of man.

Amidst other things she asserted the following: stop blaming others and circumstances, there is no turning back, revolution of technology is a reality, uncertainty and complexity are facts of life, disruption of social traditions have taken place and there are now new bearings and hence new skills and there is so much of facts and information and hence there is need to analyse them and filter them, need for discrimination, flexibility, tolerance and focus. Self-management which includes self-understanding, self-respect and self-organising is the essence of safety.

This is according to me is the foundation of culture of safety which is missing in our society. Safety culture should begin from childhood. Focus must be in the family, school, college, university and finally in the workplace. While seminars, conclaves, conferences, seminars and workshops are important but they have short-term effect while teaching in family school, college, university and finally the workplace have long lasting effect on development of culture of safety. To quote in mundane parlance, technique in T20 cannot substitute the technique needed for Test. One is exciting other is durable.

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