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?