The Rage on our Roads

By Prabhakar Timble
04 September 2012 08:49 IST

Everybody gets into a rage once on the wheel totally oblivious and unmindful of the purpose of taking charge of the steering.   Rude and offensive body language; mouth inundated with insults; an attitude of ridicule to laws and mockery of rights of others; reason eclipsed by anger and each and every corner of the road surcharged with violence  to gain the market share of power are the major threats engulfing our society.

Road Safety

Every year we observe the Road Safety Week and each successive year the rage on our roads increases in geometric progression. With the phenomenal rise in the number of motor driven vehicles, the cyclist and the pedestrian is marginalised. The incumbent on driver’s seat has become offensive neglecting the safety of others and also sacrificing the security of the self. Roads are meant also for a vehicle has today come to mean only for vehicles. Even our Gods of all religions prefer to be on the highways with a zero buffer zone or on busy market streets so as to witness and bless the victims of accidents. The demand for better roads and sound engineering may minimise traffic congestion but they would continue to be unsafe. What is required today is education to adopt ‘defensive’ driving along with innovative use of technology in enforcement.

Around 120,000 people die and 127,000 sustain injuries every year in road accidents. As per the statistics, there is one death on the Indian roads every six minutes and this is probably going to escalate to one death every three minutes. More people die in India in road accidents than anywhere else in the world. As compared to the relatively low population of Goa, the incidence of road accidents is very high and Goa would well emerge as the lead killer State of India. Road safety needs to be given top priority in terms of education, enforcement and punitive measures. The entire monies collected by way of fines for traffic offences should be channelized for promotion of road safety. With the popular government completely doing away with the VAT on petrol making this motor spirit cheaper than in other States, it would be wise if a cess of a rupee is imposed to mop up funds exclusively  to work towards safety on a war-footing.

Rage everywhere

Team Anna took the road to fight corruption apparently using the weapon of Mahatma Gandhi but abusing it in all its facets. We witnessed the madness on the ‘maidans’ killing a worthy cause. There had to be a dead end somewhere. Baba Ramdev stole the limelight due to the vacuum created and started firing shots helter-skelter converting his supporters into patriots by thundering “Kasab koh chicken biryani, deshbhakt koh paani bhi nahin”( Chicken biryani for Ajmal Kasab, even no water for patriots). Anyone who takes the cudgels for a cause invariably moves forward with a rage. The faith healers in their bid to promote their “faith products” shout down the medicos and medical science. Astrologers are proving to be great entertainers on the TV reducing those who espouse science and scientific temper as a bunch of jokers. Looking at the bombarded power of ‘rudraksha’ and precious stones a scientist will have to hang his head in shame due to the ignorance of science! The super way to the Heaven of God has to be otherwise filled with tranquil, peace, love and compassion. However, the road to this ‘Khuda’ via religion is like Hell.

Safety of Parliament

The rage has paralysed the legislature bringing the Parliament to the road. In the last two years this apex body has become infamous for suspension of the sessions. The present logjam due to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) is completely unwarranted. The reports of the CAG are to be deliberated inside Parliament. The Public Accounts Committee is another organ of the Parliament for probing into the details for further discussions in the House. If any changes need to be made in policies including legislative changes, the same should be deliberated and concluded in Parliament itself.

I am in no way justifying corruption and I can ill afford to give clean chit to any political party since no political combination is free from the malaise. I find no political party “intolerant” to the issue of corruption. The intolerance levels are only in debates and press briefings rather than in action. Making the parliament non-functional due to CAG observations does not befit parliamentarians. It is the right of any Opposition to demand the resignation of the government or the Prime Minister. At the same time, the Prime Minister is not like a Principal of a government primary school that he has to throw his resignation.

The report of the CAG which has supposedly resulted in the logjam has observed that the auction route and competitive bidding would bring more resources to the government. The calculation of the loss to the government exchequer by the CAG is not done on the basis of any actual loss suffered but the likely loss on account of the opportunities lost. What the CAG has in other words calculated is the opportunity cost of the decision not taken. The CAG has also estimated the likely gains to the private operators. It is wrong to construe the gains of private operators as losses of the public exchequer. The only way to avoid such losses is for the State and the public sector to take over the operations. All such alternatives could be debated in Parliament and the House could resolve appropriately in the matter.

The auction route is definitely in the interest of the Government. However, the government needs to be given the opportunity to explain its stand on the observations of the CAG. This can happen only if Parliament is allowed to function. There is credence to the view that the coal blocks had to be awarded through a consultative process with the State governments, who had not preferred the auction route.

On the whole, it looks that no political party is seriously interested in dealing with corruption or taking remedial measures on the basis of the report of the CAG. The Opposition is probably considering that media is more powerful to reach the masses rather than the Parliament. Just like a school boy prefers TV and internet as opposed to classrooms and library, our parliamentarians find the media more attractive than Parliament.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Road Rage is an issue we have to deal with, not just by observing Road safety week every year but working on to enforce strict discipline on the road, which no doubt will be a herculean task for the RTO.

We won't be able to completely eliminate road accidents but with few measures in place, should be able to bring down the accident rate in Goa.

Violation of road safety should be dealt with issue of challans for which our RTO Inspectors should be honest enough not to accept bribe from Violators.

Bus stops arrangement should be made properly so that the buses don't stop in the middle of the road, but by the side leaving the road clear for other traffic.

Good roads are the need of the hour, every year hot mixing is done for the roads and by monsoon the roads are wasted. Lots of public money is wasted every year on the roads which don't last even one year.

For getting rid of this malaise the government should take at least 5 year warranty from the contractors and subsequently pay as much.

But with corruption everywhere, there is not much hope for this type measures to be implemented.

- Rosario Cardozo, Assolna Goa | 10 th September 2012 02:25


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