Okay, I need not be of some leftist ideology to write it. All, it needs, is the common sense of the common Indian, who knows India, who lives India, and who has to live India.
Hundreds of thousands of people commute between Delhi and Noida daily. Not even 1,00,000 commuters are expected to be the traffic flow specific to the Indian Grand Prix during three days of its grand display.
There are reports that say India has one of the highest figures of fatal road accidents.
There are reports that say ‘every 3.7 minute, an Indian dies in a road accident’ (Hindustan Times quoting the Road Transport Ministry).
There are reports that say India has 10 per cent of the global count of the fatal road accidents (World Health Organisation).
Delhi is the Indian city with the second largest count of road accidents.
So, though there may be other valid reasons to manage the road transport efficiently (including its commercial considerations), when it comes to the common men, the everyday commuters, their safety has to be the major driving concern while managing the traffic on the road, more so in metros, with very high count of vehicles on the road.
Now come to this.
There is this practice of removing bumpers, barriers and speed-breakers from the roads in the run-up to the Formula One Indian Grand Prix that takes place in the NCR (National Capital Region) town of Greater Noida, near Delhi. The exercise is done to ensure the smooth passage to the drivers, crew, visitors and viewers to the Buddha International Circuit (F1 track) situated at a distance of over 50 Kms from Delhi (over 70 Kms from the Indira Gandhi International Airport).
This year, the 3rd edition of the Indian Grand Prix, is scheduled to be held from October 25 to 27.
Yesterday, while taking the road to Delhi from Noida, the road that eventually is the main road connecting the National Capital to the Buddha International Circuit, I found the road free of speed-breakers and bumpers. And yesterday was October 23.
While it felt good to drive on a world-class highway that was also speed-breakers free even in the segments passing through the highly populated areas of Noida and Delhi, the anti- question naturally came to the mind – why this largesse, merely for a game, a game that very few in India follow, at the cost of extending threat to the human lives?
What is the purpose of the speed-breakers and norms for driving – to maintain the flow of the traffic, as well as to ensure the safety of the commuters, to save time, to save human lives?
Now, this F1 Race is till October 27. Think, it will take 2/3 days for the authorities to put in place the speed-breakers again.
So, what about the safety of the human lives for a week?
Can the glamour of F1, the Indian Grand Prix, subvert the significance of human life?
Can we risk human lives merely for a game, when the road accident data tell us to think otherwise?
It is not at all a point of debate if the Indian Grand Prix is going to attract only around a lakh heads during its three days of show. It has always been a TV show. It is, in fact, a good PR exercise in building the imagery of the country (an element of soft power projection).
But given the priorities of the Constitution led democracy, that India is, we need to be very clear of, that in principle and in action, we must now allow anything to happen, that subverts the spirit of the Indian Constitution, by compromising the lives of its ordinary citizens.
Okay, there were not any untoward incidents during the previous two years of the event, but that does not allow the authorities to go slack because it involves human lives.
The speed enthusiasts can do well with the speed-breakers in place. Their luxury cars would not let them feel the bump, though it may add few minutes to their ride-time, but doing so would certainly ensure the ordinary commuters do not violate the norms and continue to drive safely with the precautionary measures of road-safety in place.
Though, Mr. Robert Vadra may have the liberty to say India is a banana republic, I do believe it is a democracy, even if an experimental one, looking for the way-ahead, from a botched-up post-Independence history, from a story lost somewhere in transition.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/