Friday, February 27, 2015

Vote bank Gimmicks

Our politicians understand pain and suffering only when it knocks on their doors. Even during a sad event they only think about how to capitalize on the situation. Unless there is a sea of change in our thought process and actions, things would remain the same or may even be worse for centuries to come.
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National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) report reveals that more than 1,35,000 deaths occur in India due to road accidents. The frequency of traffic collision in New Delhi is 40 times higher than the rate in London. The Government at the center introduced the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in Lok Sabha on 15thDecember 2014. This bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. But what prompted Government to rethink about the road safety laws? Did they really amend it to improve the road safety as the transport minister said? Or was it to secure the votes of e-rickshaw drivers in the Delhi election by reducing the license processing time without having to wait for a year. The timing of the introduction of the bill just before the Delhi election says it all. What was promised by Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, during the press meet after the death of Rural Development Minister, Gopinath Munde in a road accident in New Delhi, was that in a month’s time the bill would be re-drafted in sync with nations like US, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Germany and the UK and once the new laws are implemented, they will drastically reduce the number of road deaths. But there is very little hope that the parliament, which is run by the very same politicians who introduce such bills, will pass it. Even if it is passed in parliament will the minister be sincere enough to implement what he has promised.

In a related news on politicians capitalizing the situation for the gains of their party, Maharshtra’s health minister Dr Deepak Sawant said the Government will take steps to curb the consumption of tobacco in the state. And this comes at a time when former home minister R R Patil lost his life to oral cancer caused by chewing tobacco. Chewing tobacco in public spaces is prohibited under IPC sections 268 and 269 but these are seldom implemented. Forget about taking a bus (public transport) in high tobacco consuming states like UP and MP, even in a city like Bangalore, you can witness people chewing paan (tobacco) and spitting from the moving bus. Thanks to volvo buses they don't have open windows to spit on the road. Is it not a shame that we have to paint pictures of Gods and religious symbols at every corner in the stairs of a Government office building just to prevent people from spitting? The ban on paan masala in Karnataka is just on paper. While making the two wheeler riders to wear helmets can be implemented strictly in the cities, why not prohibit consumption of tobacco? Is this because, you cannot penalize someone chewing tobacco exorbitantly unlike the ones without helmets? Or passing such law is just another gimmick for political gains? Someday a politician might even come up with an election gimmick that he will invest millions in research for developing a paan masala that can be swallowed and still feel good.

As the nation embarks on an ambitious mission of Swachch Bharat, it is the people who have to change their thinking and mend their ways. We have to change. Whether it is introducing bills in parliament or implementing schemes most of the politicians do it only for personal gains or for publicity which turns into votes during elections. Most of the schemes introduced by the government are for the benefits of the people. But how many are actually implemented is a big question. It is high time we took such schemes into our own hands. Can we all pledge to educate or at least shame the guy who spits his paan next time in the public space?  Can we follow traffic rules even if there is no police constable to penalize us?