Giving Up…Losing Hope?

There are two intertwined threads.

Last week, I was crossing the Sir Hurkisondas Hospital junction in Girgaum. As usual, two-wheeler riders (TWRs) were behaving as if signals don’t exist. There were two non-traffic policemen sitting on a bench outside J J & Sons and I asked them to do something about this. I expected them to tell me that this was not their job…instead they said that they were helpless…since no one listened to them anymore and they didn’t know how to stop the riders, they didn’t see the point in making the effort.

Three days ago, coming back from Sion around 10.00 PM, we got stuck at the junction with Rafi Ahmed Kidwai road…the cars and trucks coming onto Ambedkar road refused to stop irrespective of whether the signal was red or green. We waited for about 5 minutes and then I got out of the car and stood in front of a truck and forced it to stop so that a path could be created for our cars to go through. Just then we saw a traffic policeman who looked as if he had been “hiding” behind a pillar. We stopped and asked him why he wasn’t controlling the traffic. He said that no one listened to him anymore and he did not know what to do.

While we keep wondering at the complete breakdown of law and order with respect to TWRs (they break signals, drive on the opposite side of the road as if they have just returned from the US, come at you head-on on your side of the road, ride on pavements, etc.), the flip side is that there is no law enforcement as well. Deterrence works and if there was a way of penalizing the riders and bringing them to book, things would improve. Unfortunately, our policemen, whose salaries come from the taxes we pay…have given up. They would rather raid late night parties that give them newspaper mileage than control the traffic situation, which perhaps is just another mundane, boring job to them.

And then an exasperated senior colleague last Saturday raised this question, “When TWRs break traffic laws with immunity, doesn’t this carry onto other spheres of their lives? Won’t they break other laws in the same manner, in other walks of life? This new generation today that truly believes that traffic laws are meant only for the books…is it growing up believing that following rules is of no relevance, especially when there is no one to catch them?”

If there is a direct linear correlation between breaking one kind of law and another, then clearly as a country, we are doomed. And yet, because we humans are such complicated creatures, able to handle various dichotomies (including the great delusion of God and religion), it is possible that those who break traffic laws may still be honest when it comes to non-traffic stuff. My disillusioned senior colleagues does not agree, seeing this as a black and white issue but I have faith in humans as a race and believe that one thing does not necessarily mean the other. So while our caretakers of law and order may have given up on traffic offenders, I am not sure this means that the TWRs are going to break laws all over the place!

In short, while our law enforcers have given up any hope of controlling TWRs who break traffic rules with impunity, I am not sure it automatically means that these serial traffic offenders will also become thieves, murderers, rapists and scamsters.

Or am I wrong?

20 Comments

  • Prashant Sarangi wrote:

    Hi,

    Nice article. as usual I relate with you always on Traffic signals and the utter lack of civic sense. I think the ‘sab chalta hai’ attitude comes from how the traffic police deal with traffic. At times you will see, that they allow traffic to go when the light is red, to control the sheer volume. now this sends a clear message for the less discerning that ‘it is ok’ to break the signal. That ‘it is ok’ to just find a way out of traffic, irrespective of the method.
    No, most of the offenders dont turn out to be thieves or murderers. But the value systems that they instill in their children are more damaging and irrevocabale. Their children grow up in the ‘man kill man’ world where they show little concern for others and start thinking of themselves, their comfort and their interests only.

  • You are absolutely right. The menace increases while we along with the traffic police look on helplessly. Have you also noticed that giving a turn indication is incentive for one or two TWRs to zoom across the side you have strted to turn into.

  • I agree with you that the punishment for traffic violation should be deterrent.Unlike our olden day Ambassadors & fiats, the new breed of cars have phenomenal power and are murderous machines. If the person behind the wheel is irresponsible, a lot of damage can be inflicted & lives can be lost.Stem the rot before it spins out of control

  • Hi, Install as many video cameras.The guilty ones should pay a heavy fine..Rs.200/2500. Repeat offence, double the penalty..3rd time cancel their licences.Cars parked with driver should be spot fined or challand.

    Else improve the infrastructure and very efficient public transport,

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    When the Traffic Cops themselves break rules and drive into no entries,break signals, drive without helmets etc etc surely their moral authority to enforce these very rules takes a beating. They themselves set a bad example & the results are there for all to see!

  • jamna varadhachary wrote:

    They should appoint traffic supervisors – common people – and give them the power to stop these youngsters. And take down numbers of offending vehicles and send it to a data base. Usually these are serial offenders If their number shows up on the data base more than say 3, 4 times, their license should be suspended for a couple of months. More offences, a permanent cancellation. It will act as a deterrant.

  • Dr Shivani thakur wrote:

    I am so fed up of the chalta hai attitude around us …what am I teaching my kids here …it’s normal to do break rules whenever and whatever come may ! The apathy of the system has turned the whole fiasco into a vicious cycle which will never end till we do something about it….a few days ago I was arguing with a auto wallah who refused to take me as a passenger with the panda standing just 6feet away seeing what was happening but was turning a blind eye to it,,,,the auto wallah had the audacity to ask me when I told him I would complain ,,,should I pose fora snap ?????IMAGINE!!!

  • V.Subramanian wrote:

    There is increasing frustration and heartburn amongst the Mumbai Motorists and the morning walkers at the violations of traffic rules not only by the TWR but also some Auto drivers and even motorists especially in the early mornings.Once we used take pride in the civic and traffic sense of Mumbaikars in comparison to what was happening in other metros.Pizza shops mushrooming all over is one reason for TWR unruly drives. In order to cut the delivery time, they take all shortcuts which include wrong side driving,improper overtaking,cutting signals etc. The other TWR also follow suit.Even the Traffic department or those resposible for constructing and designing roads,have to be blamed for the very long dividers,not allowing U-turns at several junctions,etc.
    The traffic regulators are constantly looking out for measures to enhance their income and own most of the towing vehicles.The logical apprehension is to extend this state of lawlessness to other spheres as well. But one hopes that detterants are strong enough for them, even to attempt larger crimes.We cannot afford to lose our faith on young India.

  • Bhavin most Indians break tax laws at every opportunity but we do not break many other laws. Case of Cognitive Dissonance.

  • darshan jain wrote:

    good evening sir
    i m a resident in radiology
    you have brought a very important topic in limelight through your article that if a person commits a crime, will he commit crime or breaks the law again in the same or other scenario. To think this is an absolute innocence from our side.These people knoe=w the tricks of the trade.
    Now a days people have become very smart they know how to behave in different situation take the example from my department. I seen many resident colleagues of mine not working at all ( maaf marna ). And because of them sincere people are over burdened . I m not telling that i m sincere. But frankly speaking these people are not told any thing. This is just because they know how to butter the seniors and the juniors are also happy with them.
    So there is no direct lin­ear cor­re­la­tion between breaking one kind of law and another.
    These kind of people must be punished there and then so that people of these kind are not let off. This will reduce frustration in us and will not force innocent people like us to take chances to commit crime.

  • Ravi Ramakantan wrote:

    Janak.. tell me which law we do not bend or even break. Seeing the culture of “no rules for me” for those in their 20s now and their reaction when someone points that out that to them, I am sure, we are going to breed a generation that is law unto themselves with a “what is the big deal” ideology. They may not turn out to be thieves and murderers, but they sure we will no longer be “civic or civil” society. The best punishment is to ‘flat’ their tyre or make them park in a corner and let them go after 30 mins. No fines nothing.. just “delay their hurry”

  • recently I saw these two trucks parked in a narrow lane near home on opposite sides of the road… visibility was heavily hampered and it was going to be a cause for accident any moment… a little further down at the bus stop naka bandi was on and a huge posse of traffic cops was busy screwing TWR riders. I parked my car near the bus stop and walked up to the cops. Found the officer in charge and asked him if he had jurisdiction in that area. He says “yes”. So I told him about the trucks parked in the lane. At the mere mention of the word truck 3 constables jumped and ran up to me asking “kahaan kahaan?”. One of them was told to go and sort out the problem. He rode out on his motorbike and I followed in my car to show him where. When I reached the spot he was already efficiently talking to the drivers/cleaners. I asked “kya karoge inka”… he replies “license le liya hai abhi challan kar raha hoon”….. I requested him to see about getting the lane cleared and drove on to where I was initially headed to. On my way back an hour later the trucks were still there! Moral of the story “kutte ki dumm tedhi ki tedhi”….

    The one thing one thinks about sometimes is that when we came out of college both my wife and I had opportunities to go and settle in the USA but we turned it down because of some idealistic “desh bhakti syndrome”….. today when one looks at the rot that has permeated every sphere of living in Mumbai, arguably the most refined of cities in India, one wonders was it the correct decision… this rot just cannot be fixed unless a dictatorship comes into place and that wont happen “we are after all secular democrats”…..

  • Sunil Kamath wrote:

    Bhavin Sir, This is TOO BIG AN ISSUE to be discussed in this Forum.

    The MORAL FIBRE of the Average Mumbaikar has been ERODED. When people cross the roads indiscriminately with Toddlers in tow or sometimes even with Babies in Their Arms..What sort of an Example are they setting to their children/wards ?? Are the Duties of the Parents over, once they get their kids admitted to a decent school.

    The Kids observe & Imitate their Parents..whether it be crossing the roads indiscriminately, breaking rules, littering or even Back-answering a Cop, whenever he/she is pulled up.

    It is NOT AT ALL AN EASY TASK to Manage the Mumbai traffic. When every other person, be it the motorist or the pedestrian is displaying his/her High-handedness.

    I for one, can speak, only from MY OWN EXPERIENCE that, to Tackle different ‘characters’, (who, ALMOST ALWAYS, are HOT UNDER THE COLLAR)…and trying to maintain a semblance of (My own) MENTAL BALANCE is AN ART BY ITSELF.

    If poverty and illiteracy are cited as an excuse..then I would BEG TO DIFFER, b’coz IT IS THE LITERATE & THE WELL-HEELED, who are amongst the BIGGEST CULPRITS.

    The Police (city/Traffic) are working and performing their duties under EXTREMELY TRYING & STRESSFUL CONDITIONS. They also have their SUPERIORS to whom they are answerable. (If at all The Superiors have to be questioned)

    I have had the Good fortune to visit most cities within the country and I can say with some Authority that the MUMBAI POLICE (CITY/TRAFFIC) are doing an EXCELLENT JOB..considering the LACK OF EQUIPMENT & FACILITIES at their disposal.

    I DO NOT HOLD ANY BRIEF for the (Mumbai) Police…But One CAN’T WISH AWAY THE FACT that…THE POLICEMAN COMES FROM THE SAME SOCIETY AS YOU & ME.

    How many times does one remember a GOOD DEED (by a Policeman) being HIGHLIGHTED ?? (There are umpteen times when the misdeeds are given wide coverage)

    Ajmal Kasab’s Biryani and his Mercy petition is being Discussed by EVERY OTHER INDIAN..How many of them actually remember The Late Tukaram Omble ??

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    Faith in human race? Maybe but not us Indians. We are a thoroughly screwed country who only know lofty talk about India giving the world the numeric zero. That is what we are- ZERO!

  • Dr. Nitin Bhorkar wrote:

    We had a similar discussion earlier about obeying traffic signals. Yes I agree too that our traffic discipline and law enforcement are equally pathetic. My suggestion is promote and make Mr.Dhoble in charge of Mumbai traffic. Here is my reason. I stay in Vile Parle and he has recently been transferred to be in charge of Vakola and Vile Parle. The guy is a stickler for rulebook. In less than a week all vada pav, bhurji pav carts who were merrily cooking food on carts against regulation have been removed. All shops whether grocery shop or panwallas have to close by 10 pm which is their stipulated closing time or else they are being fined. All the illegal extensions onto the footpaths and roads have disappeared. And this is just the beginning. He personally takes rounds riding pillion on patrol motorcycle. He is only doing his job of implementing whats written in rule books. If we don’t like it we should ask for change of rules. Have we become so used to breaking rules that we don’t like anyone who tries to implement them? If he is made in charge of traffic, I am ready to bet my last penny that thing will turn around within a month’s time.

  • Great article! I hope it gets heard at places where it ought too. If this article is for self realisation for the TWRs, I am sure they don’t read newspapers. I wish Sunil Kamath’s comment could be printed in the newspaper because that’s what most Mumbaikars truly believe.

  • Deeply distressed by the traffic signal issue daily.
    We tend to ignore all red lights in our life nowadays . While murderers and rapists require certain type of personalities which very few of us are, it is still a red light they break. So not a big surprise that our news channels are flooded with such stories.
    Honesty is rare nowadays. If you stop at red light people start swearing, some might say “Gandhi banke ghum raha hay “. Sad
    Solution, have gates like at railway crossing.. Since police admit they are helpless drastic measures are required. Patience will be taught the hard way. Cctv is a good idea but how to fine people?
    Or of course the BMC solution – – more potholes at signals.

  • When people shirk from doing their duty, society’s moral fiber is at peril.
    The root of all this is illiteracy, overpopulation and basic civic sense lacking in almost every Indian.
    We feel it is alright to break laws, it is alright to hurt others, it is alright to be rude, it is alright to bribe, it is alright for corruption to rule us.
    What we see in our outside world is within us. If we change our inner world, the world around us will change.
    No use finger pointing at the world thinking that we are better than others.

  • Bhavin, I read the whole script. I am signing off with the phrase, ” You are Wrong”, because you are right in this Great City..
    Regards
    TNM

  • We have a lovely country with a lot of sick and arrogant bs. who cannot be taught a lesson.

    However at 7 this morning opposite Inorbit I was surprised to see two BEST buses waiting at a red signal along with me. When I came to the signal at (forget the name) one stop after the Goregoan depot I got a jolt, when another BEST on the opposite side actually stopped at the red signal and let me take the U turn.

    Guess there is hope…..

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