Bangalore: Pillion Helmet Rule

The pillion helmet rule had come into effect from 20th January, 2016 in Bangalore. At traffic signals, I noticed my co-riders discussing about the ill effects of the rule.

cznid8zwkaea6am

Some of the difficulties are,

  1. People who drop/pickup their spouse/kids at bus stop/school, have to carry an extra helmet. Who is going to carry that extra helmet before/after pickup/drop?
  2. Most of us have to buy an extra helmet lock to secure the helmets at malls and other public places.
  3. It is common to see more than two people (a kid) travel in a two wheeler in Bangalore. Do we then  need three helmets?

The current Government came into power in Karnataka in early 2013 with the chief minister promising to fix all the roads in Bangalore. Since then it is little more than two and half a years and no visible change has happened to any of the roads. After every death because of a pothole, the Government will announce a fresh deadline to fix all the roads by an X date. So many X dates have passed, nobody cares or fixes the roads. Is the government accountable? Neither the contractor who executed the work, nor the engineer who designed it, nor the BBMP who finances the project, nor the Ministers of the Government who monitor the work have gone to jail because of their carelessness. The only positive is that some of the traffic cops will have an extra income. I hope you understand what I mean !! The only loss is to the family of the victim.

Most of you must have enjoyed watching the films Bangalore Days (Malayalam) and Chennaiyil oru Naal (Tamil). The common plot in both the movies is the death of pillion riders. Even though they are just movies, maybe there is something to learn. Think about the kid who sits on the tank in the bike. The kid is more vulnerable to accidents more than the rider.

Finally, Is the pillion helmet rule worth all the trouble?  There are downsides of pillion helmet rule, but considering the safety, I will put my money on the pillion wearing the helmet. It could be anybody’s mistake but the loss is ours. Better Safe than Sorry!!

Odd-Even Formula

Come every winter the flights, trains and buses run late in New Delhi because of smog. The Delhi government proposed the odd-even rule to mitigate pollution.This is not something new but was followed in London and Beijing for a specified duration during London Olympics and the National day of China respectively.

I recently read an article, that says only 6.6% of the pollution in Delhi is caused by automobiles. By effectively following the odd-even rule and the strict truck policy, the number would reduce to below 3% but still that will not be enough. Since the Government has taken a bold first move and as much as I appreciate the move I opine that Delhi requires more of such steps otherwise people might start buying their second car with a different number. Today, Delhi might have ‘x’ cars and government is trying to make it ‘x/2’ on roads and in near future the number will again grow to ‘x’ and next time it will be difficult to make it’x/3′.

In Bangalore, most of us know the biggest polluters are the public transport buses be it the Volvo or the lower deck buses. Most of the buses in Bangalore are so old that when they move from the bus stop, thick black smoke is emanated and pollute as much as ten or fifteen cars. I have seen similar buses in Chennai and so I can assume Delhi will be no exception. Government of Delhi can make the public transport attractive and introduce more cleaner buses. Incentivize people who use the public transport on all weekdays, by offering them to ride for free during weekends. Discourage people to buy the second car by doubling the existing road tax and may be halve it for existing single car owners and first time buyers.

We Indians always have the habit of saying “No” and then trying out things. We criticize laws without giving much thought. Delhi Government has diluted the law by exempting bikes. Only ten percent of Delhi population use cars and if you take out five percent of it, results may not be as effective as the initial draft. But let us take a moment to appreciate the Government’s experiment to bite the bullet in fighting pollution.

Time to reach the destination is measured in terms of distance and speed. But Bangalore, the place I live, defies the logic in that,the time taken to reach the destination is solely dependent on traffic. In a recent study, it was found that the average speed on the outer ring road which was built to decongest traffic in Bangalore city is five kmph. Even though the solution of odd-even formula is right and in the right direction, it may or may not have an impact on the problem in New Delhi but a must one for the people of Bangalore.

Bangaloreans, Agree?

Intolerating Tolerance

The word “intolerance” has gained huge significance in the recent past. From writers to journalists to actors, i.e, people in the media fraternity using the medium “media” propagate their feeling of insecurity. Do people like Sharukh, Aamir, Anand Patwardhan, Devanuru Mahadeva feel insecure in a country like India? The reason for mentioning the last two names is to imply that this has nothing to do with caste, creed, religion or language. Some of you may not even know who they are.

There have always been clashes between Shaivite and Vaishnavites, Shias and Sunnis, Buddhists and Hindus, Catholics and Protestants etc, This has not suddenly grown in the past six months. If Aamir Khan feels insecure, he has the option to send his kids out of India with the money earned mostly from the poor Indian fraternity. He will continue to stay in intolerant India to suck people’s money to fund his children abroad

As a common man, do I feel insecure? Am I afraid to walk out of the house? During my recent travel to Amritsar, without knowing both Punjabi and Hindi, I managed myself in the heartland of Punjabis and Sikhs. There were always people to help me with boarding, lodging and commuting. Even for a minute, I never felt insecure in a place 2500 kms away from my native. I can proudly say that India is and will be the most tolerant county in the world.

Other than celebrities, I have not seen any common man (salaried employee or middle class or lower middle class) talk about intolerance. Any reasons? Because we have much more work to do for our living. Our worries are mostly on prices of dal, onions and our livelihood. In Chennai, people are getting drowned in floods. In southern most part of India, Rameswaram fishermen are being mauled by the Srilankan Army. At Kupwara, J&K, as I write, Indian Army is engaging in gun battles with the infiltrators. If a celebrity had returned his award for the death of an Indian fisherman due to a neighboring country, I would have been proud. But for a non existent intolerance? I don’t feel it. Most common people don’t feel it. As Chetan Bhagat said, “wrong to label Islam as violent after stray terror attack.But why did you label my entire country intolerant after a few stray incidents?”

I don’t care if they move to a more tolerant country like United States, France, Russia or for that matter Syria, Iraq or even Afghanistan, but they owe an explanation to the people of this country ,what occurred in the last six months for them to feel otherwise. May be there is too much tolerance in this country for some to tolerate.

Reservation – A Controversial Subject

The hottest and the most controversial topic circulating in Indian Media today is reservation. India gained Independence almost seventy years back and the quota and reservation was introduced then to uplift the backward castes of India. Reservation is talked among all the political parties only to gain votes. This is the simple divide and rule policy. Didn’t we hear in our kindergartens about the famous tiger and cows story? I’m not here to argue in favor of reservation for general category people or cancel the whole reservation system but have a different view point.

“Rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer”. Agree? The people who got benefited by reservation are the people who keep getting benefited. The people who do not get to use or are unaware of reservation continue to remain ignorant, backward and poor. Let us take an example. A boy from a poor backward background completed his schooling in 1980’s and gets into a medical college by the virtue of his quota. Amazing !! This is the reason we have the reservation. Now thirty years after, the same man sets up a hospital and becomes a successful doctor. Now the successful doctor’s son completes his schooling and gets good grades but not good enough to get a medical seat in general category. But he still has his reservation intact and gets into a medical college. Is this right?

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Our government instead of just feeding people with subsidy and freebies, can correct this anomaly and give right infrastructure to the right persons. Government can deny reservation for the family that benefited twice (some ‘n’) by reservation and have a degree holder or two in the family and hence ensure reservation reaches the right people.

If you think it is tough for the government to regulate, then what if the successful doctor or the doctor’s son gives up his reservation voluntarily? It will help his own fellow backward community people. Isn’t it better than a Government or a Court enforcing it? By voluntarily giving up the reservation, his stature and respect in the society increases. Instead of relaxing for couple of marks lesser, he will work harder and compete for perfection thereby increasing the standard of entire country and more importantly the reserved seat will reach the right candidate.

Think Think Think !!

A Neutral Look on Bihar Assembly Elections 2015

I’m writing this as a neutral observer of Bihar. I’m not part of any of the political parties. Most of my observations are from reading in web, books and following 24×7 media. Most importantly I have never been to Bihar.

Let me get one thing clear from the outset. Bihar prospered under Nitish Kumar. The state’s GDP is above nation’s average which is one of the most critical factor in determining the state’s development. If the two major parties of Bihar, JD(U) and BJP contest in a bipolar election, Nitish would win hands down.

BJP won most of the seats in parliamentary election an year back. But that is Lok Sabha and this election is for assembly. This is state election. BJP do have candidates to project in Bihar like Sushil Modi but yet to project him as the CM candidate. Putting a candidate was always BJP’s bread and butter. They might have forgotten the way they won the parliament election. But is that going to cost them the election?

Coming to the third most relevant party, the RJD and Lalu’s popularity had been really shot down after the verdict in fodder scam and his party’s non performance that critically earned the tag ‘Jungle Raj’ during his and his spouse’s regime. But to Lalu’s credit, his popularity has not waned completely. In fact, he is a crowd puller when compared to Nitish.

BJP aligning with Ram Vilas Paswan and JD(U) aligning with RJD and Congress are very good examples for opportunistic politics. By simple mathematics, in my opinion if JD(U) can win a bipolar election, they should do well in an alliance and the margin of victory should be higher. But looks like JD(U) alliance might just scrape through or may even lose. Is the baggage brought by RJD and most importantly Congress pulling them down and by how much?

Nitish would be the most preferred candidate for the chief minister. To me, it looks like Nitish has an edge but the party JD(U) in alliance with RJD and Congress is not in a comfortable state.

Will it be BJP led alliance or the Nitish led alliance? Will ‘Bada’ Modi have any influence? Or who can write off the eternal Mulayam? Who will have a better Diwali?

Wait n See.

— Varun
(Views expressed above are personal)

Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished

As the title says, the book talks about the role of a loser in a battle. It is Ravanayana. My initial impression was that the author was trying to justify Ravana and put the blame on Rama. But not so. He is equally critical of both Rama and Ravana. Even though the story of Ramayana could easily be passed on as a myth, but striking similarities with places in Sri Lanka and India is amazing. The same is carried forward in Ravanayana.

The book also talks about another interesting character, Badra, an Aam Admi. Even though some of the parts involving him are bit dragging but gives an overall view of the war, heroes and villains in the eyes of a common lower middle class guy.

I recommend this book to who ever has interest in reading about Ramayana and Mahabaratha. It will be good if you have a little bit background on Ramayana, otherwise some of the parts may not be easily understandable. I do not recommend this book to a hardcore Brahmin because you may not agree with most of the contents.