Saturday, January 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



On the road to death

WITH the tremendous increase in the number of vehicles on our roads, driving has become a nightmare, specially for the elderly and ladies. In spite of the widening of roads, yellow-lines and periodic police enforcement of traffic rules, chaos reigns. One reason is the wrong, even defiant, attitude of the people, particularly the youngsters who seem to enjoy deliberate acts of flouting the traffic rules. The articles on safe motoring by well-meaning persons like H. Kishie Singh in The Tribune, therefore, deserve to be highly appreciated and encouraged. However, there are several other aspects of this problem where integrated and co-ordinated efforts on the parts of municipal corporations, the police and the media are called for.

Parking is one such problem. There is hardly any place left for the parking of customers’ vehicles in most congested markets and main shopping areas as shop-keepers usurp most of the space in front of their shops by parking their own vehicles throughout the day. Alternative parking lots should be earmarked for shop-keepers while all space in front of shops should be vacant for pedestrians and vehicles belonging to shoppers.

Dairies are being relocated in some cities outsides city limits but the problem of stray animals continues. Stray cattle, pigs and dogs often lead to serious accidents. In some cities, pigs roam about both during day and night, spreading diseases and making people’s living a miserable hell. If stray animals cannot be eliminated, it should be possible to confine them to specially constructed enclosures in the interest of public health and safety.


It is common to see people overtaking from the left side when rules allow overtaking from the right side only. Holding a mobile in one hand and using the other to balance a fast moving motor-cycle is perhaps the most dangerous thing to do. Car drivers think it is the current fashion. Talking to the pillion rider on a two-wheeler is another unsafe habit. The government should seriously consider checking driving under the influence of liquor which is very common and is a major cause of fatal accidents. Breath-analysers should be provided to more police squads to control this menace.

It is shocking to observe many car, bus and truck drivers stopping in the middle of a road to exchange pleasantries with friends. On squares where traffic control lights are fitted, people sneak through red lights if there is no policeman around. You may be preparing to turn to your right but your path is blocked by people who have to go straight, till the signals change against you.

Blowing horn unnecessarily is considered not only uncivil, it is even illegal in several countries. However, if you are late even by a second in giving way to the driver behind you in India, deafening horns, followed by head-lights and a couple of abuses follow in quick succession. The impatient driver breathing down your neck does not realise that there is traffic on your left too which cannot be made to evaporate into the thin air.

Driving with the high beam on is yet another nuisance, nearly blinding the person on the opposite side. Many have additional extra-bright lights fitted to complete the blinding effect and make sure of an accident. Even during day time some driving at break-neck speeds switch on these head-lights as if to warm you to get aside (lay off ?).It seems these blockes are out to extinguish some jungle fire ahead. Mostly, such drivers are seen stopping a few hundreds metres ahead for road-side activities.

Drivers of auto-rickshaws are often seen surrounding a person and pester him or her to board their contraptions. There is more smoke and noise inside these than even outside. Their competitive scouting for passengers often leads to accidents.

Some years back I was travelling with a friend in Surrey in a car on a very early morning. There was no traffic, the roads were deserted and no policeman could be seen anywhere for miles. My British friend stopped at a square as soon as the lights changed to red. He re-started the car only when the lights changed again to green. How many drivers would do that in India?

Bad roads, full of pot-holes, is another cause of several accidents. Easy availability of driving licences, bad road manners, unfit vehicles on roads, insufficient policing and lack of awareness of the consequences of bad driving — all these and many other factors conspire to make our roads virtual death-traps. There is a great need to continuously spread awareness of these factors to save precious human lives from being un-necessarily lost on roads.

DR S.S. BHATTI, G.N.D. University, Amritsar

NRI proposes, govt disposes

Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee wants NRI professionals to return home and help “realise our dream”. Lord Bhikhu Parekh, a member of the House of Lords, has also advised the Government of India to have a coherent policy first. He confirmed many NRI professionals want to train young Indians in their respective fields but India needs to find non-bureaucratic ways of mobilising their enthusiasm. It is a Century of Knowledge.

Mr P.M., thanks a lot. However, here is a case study and humiliating experience of a 65- year-old NRI professional working in the Gulf since 1984. Indian hospitals are sick due to poor architectural designs, environmental and infrastructural management.

I have spent 30 years in this area. I submitted proposals to the Health Minister for a training and research centre in medical architecture/hospital engineering — the first such centre in S.E. Asia. Dr C.P. Thakur, then Health Minister, called me to Delhi on 2.8.2000, appreciated the proposals and immediately appointed me as Hon Adviser. He passed written orders to the Health Secretary for implementation of the proposals. Since then I have sent 24 reminders to the Health Minister (last one to Shatrughan Sinha on 19.9.2002) but I have yet to hear any reply. I have even offered to meet 80% of the cost for three years and have left a well-paid job in Dubai.

In fact, the above proposal was a recommendation of a very high calibre working group of MOH in 1971 (having three Padma Vibhushan winner doctors and engineers as members) which was appointed by Dr Karan Singh under instructions from Indira Gandhi.

It is a knowledgeable report to improve the “health of hospitals” and is even applicable today.

Er (Dr) J.C. MEHTA, Dubai

NRI’s poser to PM

May I take this opportunity to put forward my comments on Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s proposal to stop brain-drain.

I am a young scientist of 28, working at CEMES, CNRS, France. I completed my Ph. D. in chemistry from Kurukshetra University. I had already cleared the UGC-CSIR national eligibility test for lecturership.

Nobody wants to leave his native land and family but one has to, for his bread and butter. If one is well qualified and is unable to get a job, he has to decide to leave his native country to get the fruit of his hard work and ideas. Only money is not the consideration. Rather one should get an opportunity to prove his worth. For that, a good infrastructure is also required.

I agree with the P.M. that brain-drain should be stopped but only words are not sufficient. He must take some solid steps to provide good jobs to scientists, engineers, doctors and all others who deserve.

If he can, we are waiting for the moment so that we may move back to the lap of our native land and serve it.

We also want to put forward all our efforts and ideas for the glorious future of India, but how?


Tribune denied in Shatabdi

I wish to bring to your notice a matter of serious concern and inconvenience to The Tribune readers faced by them while travelling in the morning Shatabdi from Delhi to Chandigarh. On an earlier occasion on demanding a copy of The Tribune from the train vendor, I was told that stocks had been exhausted. This time while travelling in the same train in coach I on Jan 7, I was told that The Tribune was not available.

I was quite upset at the reply. It appears that the contractor is intentionally not making arrangements to procure and distribute copies of The Tribune in the train for obvious reasons.

D.B. SINGH, Chandigarh

Award for Yash Chopra

Harihar Swarup, in his write-up “Apt choice for Phalke award” (Dec 29) states that in 1971 Yash Chopra founded his own set-up Yash Raj Films under which he made his first film “Daag” which was followed by “Deewar” and “Trishul”. This is incorrect. Actually, “Deewar” and Trishul” were produced by Gulshan Rai under the banner of Trimurti Films. Yash Raj Films’ second film after “Daag” was “Kabhi Kabhie” (1976) which, surprisingly, finds no mention in the article. In fact, “Kabhi Kabhie” proved to be a bigger hit than even “Daag”.

The writer has also failed to mention some other notable films produced by Yash under Yash Raj Films like “Noorie”, “Silsila”, “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge” and “Mohabbatein”. In fact, “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge” (directed by his son, Aditya Chopra) stands out as a landmark in the history of Indian cinema. One of the all time blockbusters, it has already set a new record of longest run at a single cinema house besides spurring a lot of filmmakers to produce films of this kind.



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