Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Broken Windows

.... one unrepaired broken window is
a signal that no one cares, and so 
breaking more window costs
                                                                                                    ~James Q. Wilson &
                                                                                                       George Kelling. 

I don't know how many of you are aware of this "Broken Windows" theory but when I read about it, I found it very occupying. It was like all the dots were connecting to produce a more clearer picture and I was able to correlate it with different levels of our life. Like a universal law it was there in all forms and at all places.

So before few of you scratch your head over, What the heck this Broken Window is ?
Broken Window  in real world symbolizes any fallacy or wrong doing you can ever imagine. Whether its a lil lie to someone, some unchecked/ignored error in your finances, breaking traffic rules on road, giving bribe, stalking, stealing, kvetching, bad decisions, poor behavior, misconduct, treason  and so on... A tiny slack from your part and there is this sub-conscious understanding inside your cerebra that..... there's an escape, whether knowingly or unknowingly chances of you doing it again increases exponentially. 

Why ?
Because in most of the cases neither you nor the people around you care enough to repair that broken window and than this signal that no one cares resides somewhere deep down in your head. It tempts you to do it again, explore new avenues of it. Trust me this temptation is too enticing to refute. Most of us give up in no time and we create an unstable and figurative neighborhood full of broken windows. 

Don't we all are really doing this to ourselves. Well functioning system is just an illusion, in reality things are messed up pretty bad. When watched carefully it's not just the neighborhood, but the whole city and country at large is loomed with infinite instances of broken windows. It's all in human behavior. When we see someone transgressing the law, even under the watchful eyes of a helpless policeman, we don't even care once to follow that same rule. Instead we break another window in the array of broken ones. 

Initially "Broken Windows" was just a study on criminal behavior but I guess we all are sane  enough to admit that each one of us fall under this radar. So called- Common Man is the real player in action here and when this common man witnesses such broken windows in large numbers committing  bigger wrongs(crimes) with no feeling of remorse whatsoever comes naturally. There's no logic to this deviated behavior. It's just it. The devil is inside us, growing monstrously with each passing day.

Negligence is the biggest offense, which we all contravene on daily basis. Instead of correcting [ repairing broken windows]  we somehow find ways to encourage it. This ideology has seeped deep down in our veins and we are running out of time to flush it out.  We grow up hearing "apne aap se matlab rakho, jyada netagiri karne ki koi zaroorat nahin hai" i.e " Don't bother about what others are doing, whether its wrong or right, just keep things to yourself. Don't mess up".  With time we become so obsessively  protective of ourselves that in order to  maintain this comfy status we can cross any possible limit and yeah here comes in action, the main protagonist of our story - our beloved corruption

Zero Tolerance
It was the Broken Window theory which laid the foundation of zero tolerance in law enforcement. What I suggest here is that we all have to enforce this idea of Zero Tolerance in our personal lives at individual level. Its not the major deadly crimes but small tolerable crimes that poses big threat to our country's stability and integrity. Let's not modify our behavior into the apathetic one. Just because we Indians believe in karma, afterlife and we worship millions of Gods and Goddesses and we are basically god fearing and can therefore be pardoned for committing lesser infractions. This is not done. 

We need to fix these broken windows as soon as we discover them. If we can't fix it than least we can do is label it up for future reference. Don't leave it unattended. For starters experiment on yourself than your family and friends. May be not in months but in years you'll see the change. Change which you can proudly show off to others. Let's make our neighborhood a place of order and fun where you can live happily ever after. 

So what do you guys gonna do about the broken windows of your neighborhood ???
You are going to sit tight or you are planning to repair it .

PS: To read original Broken Windows article published in The Atlantic in 1982  Broken Windows


  1. Hmm that is quite the theory, but it is very true. It happens way way to often, oh there is a little thing lets leave it to get the bigger fish. Meanwhile the little fish then goes and turns into a bigger fish and the whole thing starts over again. Zero tolerance sounds good.

  2. ध्यान न देना या तोड़ देना एक जैसा ही है, शीशा तो आवाज भी करता है।

  3. Broken windows and zero tolerances have a dovetail relationship , a vicious circle-thanks for this eye opener write-up....but you know Jyoti all this is easier said than we need examples and not the preaching and dos and don'ts of civil life. Come on , set the example! :) Anyways write-up is excellent....95 out of 100. To deduct a few marks is an customary with people of may age! So no worries! :)

  4. Broken windows are symptoms of a larger malice as you rightly mentioned.The problems need to be nipped in the bud:)

  5. Jyoti,

    A very appropriate and thought provoking post. It is we the people who are responsible to enforce rules and not depend upon law enforcing agencies to do it.

    Take care

  6. Wow! How profound thoughts peek through the broken window theory. Exception is what everyone seeks as an explanation for the same stone throwing series. Well grasped the theory Jyoti! Wonderful explanation.

  7. We do need to take initiative to repair these broken windows. Very well-crafted and thought-provoking piece of writing.

  8. nice...there is a lot of truth in this...when you let one thing slip it becomes easier for the next...and then the next....

  9. this is an interesting and thought provoking post..

  10. Apathy, I've always felt, is one of the most poisonous emotions that can hit us as individuals. To feel passion, and the instinct to step up and change on a personal level is one of the biggest challenges any of us can face. It's particularly challenging because it's a personal choice, and many times, it's easier to brush those thoughts and emotions aside. I do my best to live my life in such a way that I can sleep well at night, but I also know that I can't cure the world of all that ails it. It's a delicate balance, to find those areas that I can affect...the ones in my own heart. Wonderful post, Jyoti! :)

    - Dawn

  11. U took down the theory to the grass root of corruption and then punched the zero tolerance in the end in a fantastic way. Very nicely written article. Actually These "Broken Windows" or in simpler words "Loopholes" are the result of the correlation between human behaviour and Law making. flexibility makes them plastered and rigidity just cracks the nuts and joints in order to create more loopholes. In case of our society there is a constant anomie of old ways vs new ways. It's just the start, Let's hope for the best.

  12. indeed!
    broken windows are tale tellers too!!

  13. This is spot on in it's truth. A broken window left un-repaired does signal that it doesn't matter, it is unimportant and, does lead to more being broken.
    Deep, thought provoking, well written and, insightful read Jyoti.

  14. Good of you to highlight this theory, Jyoti! It points to human failings which could act and get things to be righted in the initial stages.Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of the Johari Window, an analysis of human awareness. Great!


  15. thought provoking indeed...........

  16. You are such a powerful writer. Sigh.

  17. Hello Jyoti.
    As usual, you give us information to ponder about. Sadly, we are living in a world full of imperfection where broken windows will always exist no matter how many we fix. Thought-provoking write-up. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your kind words too.

    Day 7: Golden Sand

  18. I don’t know if "Broken Windows" theory is right and I don’t anyway agree with it….
    It s like saying because no one sees you staling, you can go on doing it…
    neverthless a thought provoking one...

  19. Jyoti you bring up many important points and while I agree with Ed that reading the refutation of a given theory is valuable I also think that what holds true in one country may not apply in another. What I appreciate most about your article is that you think beyond the scope of the theory (it's application in law enforcement) and investigate the ways that aspects of the argument can be applied to our personal lives.

  20. Nice article that gives insight into a common negligence that matters from a very serious angle.

  21. A very thought provoking article. How far Zero Percent Tolerance policy has succeeded, wherever implemented, is a matter of concern, but we will have to take steps to mend broken windows within ourselves.

  22. Something worth considering. Food for chew. Nicely written.

  23. Thought provoking. I think we should try and fix it but the problem lies in identifying it. We often miss to face it or neglect it for random reasons...

  24. I liked how you have reasoned we all fall under that radar of 'Broken Window'. I am also a firm believer in the Zero Tolerance theory. Sadly, the convoluted legal system of our nation is ensuring that Deterrence dies its own death.

  25. Very nice blog...Excellent..:)

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