#OneStepAtATime

Don't Be Horny Campaign

Recently one of the leading Radio Stations in Mumbai started a campaign focusing on the Vehicular traffic in the city. The campaign was given a very catchy name – DON’T BE HORNY, which does not have any connotation to what may come to one’s mind, but focuses on the general public being too “Horn Friendly”. While the campaign seem to be going great guns and personally am glad that this issue has been taken up, there lies a rather larger issue which I feel need to be addressed by the Government, Media and the public at large and is not just a Mumbai based concern, but something the entire country faces today.

Driving everyday is a necessity for most of the upbeat population of India, today. On one hand, we complain about the lack of the Government at doing its best to deal with day-to-day (in this case – traffic) issues that we face, irrespective of the location or how big or small a city we may be referring to. But having driven extensively on various Indian roads for the past 14 odd years, I can say with personal experience that we, the Public, which doesn’t miss an opportunity to point a finger at the Government’s inability to do anything in this country, are the first ones to be blamed for the absolute lack of basic traffic sense prevailing. And this doesn’t just go to drivers / riders of various modes of transportation, but also to the pedestrian traffic across cities in the country.

Ms. Oprah Winfrey, the American TV show host, media proprietor, philanthropist and one of the most powerful women entrepreneurs in the World, once shared that her God daughter being driven out of the Mumbai International Airport remarked (about the traffic) that it was like being in a video game (Barkha Dutt interviews Oprah Winfrey @ the Jaipur Litt Fest – 5:15mins) and how irrespective of the color of the Traffic light, it meant GO for everyone in India. People laughed, giggled, smirked and so on, on her statement, but completely forgot that this doesn’t really speak to well about how we Indians deal with our day-to-day lives. Yes she did also talk about the underlying calmness with which we go about it, but, in my opinion, that’s another way of saying that we would much rather take things for granted than actually doing something about it. And as an Indian & a patriot, I feel ashamed of such a tag.

Am sure that all those who drive or use any mode of transportation even as a passenger / pillion, would have noticed how at Traffic Signals when the light is RED, we cross over the STOP line marked on the road (most of the time), stand on the Zebra crossing ahead of it or even in many cases, just stand in the middle of the crossing, hampering those in the opposite direction to cross their path smoothly, leading to numerous traffic snarls and thereby leading to incessant honking. Add to this the issue of everyone running late for office, meetings, movies or parties (the list is way too long) and there is more Honking. People overtaking each other from every possible, imaginable angle, total lack of following a lane format of driving adds to the Honking nuisance. Not to mention when someone wanting to take a right turn is standing in the absolute Left Hand Side lane and then blocking the entire traffic going straight in order to take his / her right turn, leading to guess what – More Honking!

The above was mostly four wheel drives and above. Now let’s look at our public transportation system starting with our favourite Autowalla’s. Most of these guys are out of towners who have come to a city to earn a better living for supporting their family back home. It’s widely known that labour in India is amongst the cheapest in the World and hence, for most of these private, small time, local auto companies which get an operating licence from the State Government, give their Auto’s to these daily wagers for a daily rent tab, pre-decided . So all they have to do is agree to the Auto Owners terms and conditions and they are on their way to be riding one of these glorious Black & Yellow three wheelers. The problem one may ask; a few! For one, does this guy who’s been handed the key for riding the Auto have a valid driver’s licence? Does he have prior driving experience? Is he adept with the Traffic laws and Do’s & Don’ts of India? Are they trained into the Safety precautions to be taken while riding a public transport? Are they of legal age to be driving? And many such other points. Though, I don’t have proof of this, but of my personal interaction over the years (most of which were actually arguments & altercations), I’ve realised that 99% of these guys don’t fulfil more than 1 of the above criteria at any given point of time. So what happens? Well, flouting rules, jumping signals, creating chaos on the road, acting as a hindrance for someone who’s actually wanting to follow the traffic rules and, wait for it, wait for it…….incessant Honking!

Next up, the automated two wheelers who have come to believe that the Indian roads were built by their fathers / forefathers and they are the only ones who own it. Well Sir’s & Madam’s, I have news for you; the Government is entrusted, through their various agencies, to be looking after the upkeep & maintenance of all Public property, including the roads & pedestrian pathways which are paid for through yearly budget allocations gathered from the numerous taxes that ‘all’ of us pay. So, no, the roads aren’t owned by your fathers / forefathers as may have been taught to you by whoever. So while driving on the roads, please be watchful of the traffic scenarios in your respective city, driving on one side of the road and not in the middle of it, giving way to other vehicles to smoothly flow in their respective lanes. And yes, your ceaseless Honking, just adds to the problem of noise pollution.

Coming to those who feel the most left out and ignored on Indian roads – our very own pedestrians. Well, dear friends, let’s just say, if you follow the pedestrian signals put up & functioning across most of the cities in India and use the dedicated pedestrian pathways for most of your commute and the Zebra crossing for moving from one side to the other of the road, your life would be much less riskier, driving more smoother and Honking much less required.

Coming to the Government. Honourable Ministers & their respective officers, all I would like to request you is to help keep the roads maintained, the signals working and penalise those who actually flout the norms set forth by our Judiciary. There are numerous known & unknown cases where people get away flouting laws and norms because your office bearers allow them to. There are times when some cases maybe genuine and can be overlooked with a warning, however in more cases than not, your officers let such people go because of certain incentives offered, which is when the larger problem is. Everyone in this country has come to think (and taught) that everyone flouting norms of the land can pay their way through for everything, which seem to have become the basis of everything in this country and up to you elected folks to set things right, if we need to have sense prevailing and life moving smoothly for all of us. Oh! And yes, it won’t hurt you to actually experience the traffic of your respective cities once-in-a-while to know of the actual, on ground scenario, rather than having the traffic of an entire city come to a standstill as you have a flight to catch or a gather to attend or whatever other reason there maybe.

To the Ladies & Gentlemen of our remarkable Traffic Departments, across States & Union Territories, we are truly indebted to you for dedicating your lives for us to be moving from one place to the other in the best & smoothest possible way and for that I thank your utmost dedication towards your choice of profession. Having said that, it is also up to you to ensure that people do not take things for granted and for you to be doing everything possible to ensure that those flouting rules are brought to the book (without having any ulterior interest in it) and those who genuinely need help are offered the same when the opportunity calls for it.

Lastly, to those who think because they know someone, who knows someone, who may know someone in power and even those who actually know someone in power to throw their weight around and get away with flouting the rules, a humble request to you all, let’s try making everyone’s lives a little easier and let officers of the law do their job. You know someone in power, so even if you get challaned or reprimanded, you will eventually get away with it (let’s be honest here now; we all know how it works). Please do not make life tougher for those who don’t know anyone (almost 99% of the Indian population) and let us lesser mortals lead our daily lives with less of stress added by your callousness and perpetual speeding, overtaking and HONKING!

Other Media Campaigns HT-Outdoor-1

To our friends from the media – though many of you have, time & again, done various campaigns to address the menace of traffic in India, in most recent time that of #EndVVIPRaj to #UnclogMumbaiWithHT and now the #DontBeHorny, it would be great if these are taken to their logical conclusion, than just be used as a temporary space for creating the ‘typical’ media noise that the Indian media has come to be known for and then left in limbo. This would be great to actually have noticeable, effective and long-lasting, excellent inference, making the day-to-day lives of Indians less stressful and more meaningful.

Driving with no license, fake documents, no formal training in the art of driving, getting dad’s expensive car to try one’s hand on, when he’s too busy looking, so on and so forth. Need I say more? On that note, am done blabbering or what can now be also known as, being Horn(y), with the hope that as citizens, we, would be more responsible & accountable of our actions and the longstanding implications on the Environment and our future generations. Let’s look at making our immediate environment a peaceful and better one to live, #OneStepAtATime

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Disclaimer: Images are for representation purposes only. The Author does not claim ownership of any / all media posted in this post

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