Saturday, November 24, 2018

Helmet Vs Punekars!

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.”... Elbert Hubbard.

Elbert Green Hubbard was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher & indeed full of American wittiness which reflects in his above quote.  But when it’s wearing a helmet Punekar seems to be very much together on exceeding limits of foolishness, is all I can say! I recalled Elbert’s quote as my journalist friend Prachi Bari asked for my opinion about helmet wearing compulsion while driving a two wheeler by Pune Police & as usual controversy it has caused! And any ways last many days I have been reading about hot discussion on making helmet wearing compulsory by the authorities (read police) & then there are news about people (NGO’s, Political figures & many such) united standing against this rule! Well, when it’s following public discipline, Punekars' certainly are not best ranked in our country, leave apart the world! Joke is, the very same Punekars’ when travelling outside of our country, are considered as most civilized & well behaved creatures, even I go to forests like Kanha or Corbet, there also the guides praise Punekars’ for their disciplined behavior; really two faced specie we are! And when it’s about following traffic rules, less we speak is better & for that with all due respect blame equally goes to Police force as fear (I am deliberately using the term fear & not just respect) for law has to be there in the mind of common man & that’s job of Police a front which they are not at the mark! And that’s why every new police chief has to take call of masses even for implementing rule (read as law) as simple as helmet wearing when in every other city like Delhi or Mumbai has been successfully implementing it, even tourist's delight Goa also has helmet wearing rule & it’s being followed! On the top of it trying to implement something as making only govt employees use helmet, keeping every respect for the intentions of the concerned authorities, I think we are losing seriousness of the subject like helmet use, with such policies!

Now let’s keep away law thing about helmet wearing, as a two wheeler rider also when nearly 90% road accidents in the city are of two wheelers & nearly equal percent of deaths occurred in these accidents are by head injury is known, yet if the citizens' in Pune thinks they don’t want to use helmets then I think they don’t really care for their own head (or they have a hollow head)! And the reasons which are given for not using helmets are, one can’t see the traffic on both sides while driving a two wheeler, the speed of the traffic is slow already so where is the question of collision, the road conditions are poor, helmet carrying is a problem, some even went to the extreme that this is in the benefit of helmet manufacturers! Wow, I loved the last logic as for saving your own head why you have to think if somebody else’s benefit as by this logic in flights & cars, one should be saying seat belts are compulsory because of seat belt manufacturers! And speaking about law abiding thing then again who can bit us as we throw garbage in our rivers right standing under the board saying keep rivers clean. Speaking about our traffic sense, we park vehicles exactly where “No Parking” signage is displayed & why blame citizens, as go to PMC main building & you will find our Hon. Elected Members (read Mananiya) take most pride in parking their white SUV’s right under the board of No Parking sending message to their Mai Baap Voters, don’t bother about such foolish laws we make the laws to break them! Then another joke in this city is “No Entry” as this signage has got no meaning because most citizens of Pune gives damn to any “No Entry” board. At any given time of the day two wheelers & four wheelers enters in No Entry from opposite side at their will is scene we all have witnessed! And on top of it, a rider coming from wrong way in No Entry gives such a nasty look to the person riding  from right end that the few law abiding citizen’s whatever respect has left for law, melts away & next time he also enters in No Entry from wrong side with pride! Then comes aspect of jumping red signals; super, splendid, awesome, I think whatever way you praise Punekars’ for this quality will not be enough to describe it because when it comes to identifying (read obeying) Red, Green & Yellow on road, I think most Punekars’ (PMT drivers & Auto Rickshaw drivers especially) are color blind by birth; or else there is no reason that nobody follows traffic signal in this city, only except unless its guarded with a traffic police! Yes one more thing is there & that is rampant drunk driving, need I say more about this aspect as at any night you can find nearly thirty percent riders drunk, courtesy city’s blooming night life! And then minor things like using dark window glasses for four wheelers or using fancy number plates like Bhai & Dada for numeric figures, well nothing more to speak I think!

Now tell me which of the reason given by the so called activists is going to save them from getting a head injury with such behavior pattern while we ride a two wheeler in this city! As however slow you might be riding a two wheeler of yours but if someone comes from wrong way from opposite side & collides with you or you are standing at a red signal & some rickshaw or PMT bus (color blind) comes from behind & hits you or a drunk driver just loses his control on vehicle he is driving & rams on you, in all these cases who will be falling down from the two wheeler & end up crashing your head on pavement or footpath along; unfortunately “you only”, is the answer! And at that time even if you remember all the reasons of traffic was at slow speed, you were following all rules, road was free of pot holes, nothing is going to save you from leaving this very world not just city as the only realization will remain in those last moments will be you weren’t wearing a helmet! As just last year a message in the form of letter written by some elderly father has gone viral on social media about awareness regarding helmet wearing  after his daughter died by falling down from a scooter she was riding. And she was not even driving or in motion, she was standing at signal, somehow lost her balance & she fall down & her head got bumped on the edge of footpath & she died eventually, leaving behind two kids, husband & an elderly father who is busy in writing letters to other fools, urging them to wear helmets! Indeed as I said earlier with due respect police has to play their role right & tight as if citizens are not respecting law (read traffic rules) then something is very wrong in policing on road is a bitter truth. And for that we need to strengthen traffic branch as with forty million vehicles on road with ignorant foolish riders on them, we need a lot many traffic police than the present figure of some twelve hundred plus, at least till they make these riders fear the traffic rules!

I think Punekars just love to oppose everything as that has become their identity in a way or else why this simple thing of wearing helmet would have become a question of city's survival like issue! What’s unfortunate is the citizens who joins hands against helmet use ignore conveniently (read foolishly) the root cause of need of helmet in first place & that is nearly thirty millions two wheelers on road because of mess of public transport system govt (read PMC, PCMC, PMPML & Police) has made! As there is no space left on road now to accumulate more vehicles resulting immense increase in vehicles collisions (well our traffic sense too is a reason) but instead accommodating our own safety by use of helmet & joining hands for demanding better public transport we always choose easy way i.e. oppose helmet! On any day open any news paper & you will only read some brother has lost his sister on the eve of Rakhipornima or some parents has lost their only son on his very birth day & all because of two wheeler accident & needless to say due to head injury!  Now go & ask that brother who has lost his only sister or the parents who has lost their college going son about helmet using law, all they will tell with tearful eyes only if their loved one would have used the helmet!

Though one more side to this resistance to helmet use is common man is so frustrated with law & order which he thinks only exists to harass him. As all the time he (read common man) can see so called celebrities (read moneyed or people in power) getting away with bigger offences, while he has to face things like helmet use compulsion & that’s why the retaliation comes in him! Somewhere a message must go to the masses that every law is for every citizen & that is possible only by action by the law enforcement authorities & not by mere words from whomsoever mouth they come!

I think apart from applying police force what we need is long term solutions for road safety & just the way the Diwali now is much fire crackers free, which has been possible only by combine awareness effort of schools, media & govt, it’s high time a ongoing campaign about awareness regarding not just helmet use but traffic rules & its importance in schools & colleges. As indeed it’s a long term solution but no future can be secured by short term solutions is a fact. Take help of associations like CREDAI to make their flat holders aware by whatap message, letters whatever way you can reach out to every individual making him or her realize life is precious & one small thing like wearing helmet of following signals can save some life! Display helmet as well road safety posters in every office, clinic, bank, malls & let every citizen of this city know that road safety starts from him or her only!  Simultaneously we need to think about age old traffic related laws & punishments for breaking them; as if I shoot someone at point blank range just for fun & as I have a gun, I get hanged for that as its crime under section 302 i.e. murder, same way if I drive a two or four wheeler in a wrong direction in no entry or jump red signal & becomes a cause for death of someone, then I must not get away with mere three years jail that too is bail able! The society which doesn’t respects law becomes a history is a history in itself & hard time Punekar learn the history! At the same time all those who are today demanding not to implement helmet use rule please come on road & urge govt for better public transport so as less use of two wheelers which will directly result in less number of accidents! Well, I myself have ride a two wheeler without helmet (& survived till now) & I don’t deny the problems of carrying helmet & driving a two wheeler with helmet on, but by now I have understood one thing, "problems exists only if I myself exists in first place”! Do I need to explain importance of your own safety or use of helmet in more words to the so called enlighten citizens of this city, which takes pride in consider itself as Smart City! 

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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