Monday, June 13, 2011

A Nation of Hypocrites - Turning a Blind Eye, Lessons from the Traffic Police

If you are from Hyderabad and have travelled on any road from Yousuguda check post to Jubilee Hills check post, or have even stood at the busy Jubilee check post road, you will see auto rickshaws picking up passengers, seven of them in a rickshaw (they are to carry three legally). The auto drivers solicit business and carry all these passengers openly under the very noses of the traffic policemen who turn a blind eye to them and behave as if everything is normal. Now imagine a regular auto which can seat one driver in the front and three at the back, now with three people joining the driver in front, arms and legs hanging out, while four people sit at the back, crammed until there is no space left. Apart from this serious overloading, these autos also zoom at great speeds at great danger to everyone concerned, people hanging on, people on the road because their low-cost model depends on making maximum number of trips.

How do these autos function in the heart of the city, under the nose of the traffic police is one thing that will bother anyone? It's a regular racket because now there is no hiding it even or behaving as if they are doing it on the sly. They do it openly. The traffic cops meanwhile catch hapless two wheeler guys who are an easy bait and harass them to death. Or even better, send postal letters with pictures of some long forgotten traffic offence that no one can make out - jumped red light, went wrong side. Who remembers? It's better to pay, so most do. At least the law abiding ones do. Many do not.

One of these auto drivers said that passengers in these routes prefer this mode because it is cheap. He charges something in the range of 5-6 bucks a head where the bus ticket is more. The seat is assured though cramped. It is amazing to see women and girls push their way into these genderless autos because they are frequent, quick and cheap. The only problem here is that of the law. That seems to have been easily taken care of. Each auto apparently pays on an average something like a 100 bucks to the traffic cops on their route and that secures the path for the day. I do not know how many autos ply on these routes but they are in hundreds. Say assuming a 100 autos and 100 bucks an auto, its 10,000 a day, 3,00,000 a month. All for turning a blind eye. these are minimal figures. It could be more.

Unfortunately we all have turned blind, because we see everyone watching, everyone seeing and everyone going about their lives. These are busy roads mind you and all ministers, beaurocrats, law makers, businessmen, the intelligentsia - everyone travels these routes. Remember the old school saying - so what for me men? Everyone is happy - passengers, cops, autos. Can't blame the cops nor the autowallahs. Why blame them? When millions of people who see it happening under their nose are not bothered, why blame them? 

And then we scream and kick about corruption. How will anything happen if everyone goes about like they are wearing blinkers and have no voice? How will any Lok Pal Bill make a difference if no one makes a move unless it pinches them? The corruption out there is only reflecting the rot within, and unless we realise that we as a society need to ask, question, complain - nothing will happen. No one else will do that job for you. Not Anna Hazare, not Ramdev, no one. It is us who have to learn to raise the voice and question and complain, individually and collectively. That itself will make us aware of how corrupt we are ourselves.

And if you want to pay someone to do that job, don't blame him for turning corrupt as well!


Anonymous said...

There in lies my objection to the Lok pal bill. EVERYONE of us is corrupt. SO how can we guarantee that the panel of people in charge won't be corrupt. We cannot.

And these guys are not even elected. So we end up having an additional layer of power... and they are not even elected they are appointed.

The first step towards dictatorship.

Harimohan said...

You are right Anon to the extent that there i no guarantee that they will not be corrupt. After all it is the position and the power that makes one start rethinking one's attitude to corruption! But what it does and why I support this Bill is that it makes the people in power who were hitherto not answerable, because they sit on the law that says so, answer a few questions. Like in the case of the traffic cops where everyone acts blind, we see so much more blatant corruption from those in power who appear beyond the reach of everyone.
Now the existing system is devised so as not to question the ones in power. the Lok Pal Bill will see that it will question them as well.
As for the rest of us small fry, the law seems to be made for us anyway.
It requires no genius to guess that most of the corrupt money is with or within these elite circles that evade the law due to their power and position. This is the big fish one needs to put the fear of god into. The traffic cop and the man on the road are small fish who will get caught out anyway.