Traffic police – why stand and deliver?

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

Was driving my F-I-L’s Santro the other day when I was stopped by one of those police parties. 5 of them, settled under a lush thick tree, half of them waiting to stop unsuspecting vehicles, the other half busy ‘punishing’ the ‘successful’ catches. I never get stopped when driving bigger cars, but the 9 year old santro ‘fit’ their criteria.

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Meeting with Mr Tripathy, BMTC – Summary

[Cross-posting from Praja-Bangalore, comments are off]

So it did happen. Naveen, Murali sir, Vasanth, Praveen, myself got 30 minutes of Mr Tripathy’s time in his office. After introducing Praja etc, we were planning to present our (rather, Naveen’s) slides on single dedicated lane based BRTS idea. But Mr Tripathy said he was short on time, and would look at it later at leisure. However, he warned us that he just can’t do BRTS by himself. He is only a bus operator, and owns only the rolling stock. We should go to other bodies (BBMP/BDA/Traffic police to get non-rolling stock infrastructure for BRTS) to push for it. He then updated us on the BRTS-on-ORR project a bit. He seemed well versed with BRTS, its need and advantages, Bogota etc. Though, his take on the key reason for the success of buses at Bogota is – the interesting ways in that city ran campaigns to educate citizens on road discipline.

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Traffic – Insurance laws to strengthen enforcement?

Over an year ago, I was driving not so fast not so slow, near the hard median of a road, when I spotted a bold biker riding on the ‘wrong’ side. Right around then, an impatient cab (Sumo) following behind decided to pass me from the left, the overtaking action putting him on a collision course with the wrong-way biker. The biker sensed trouble and tried to ‘filter’ through us. But in between his confused maneuvers, the bike slipped, fell, and I found the man and machine directly ahead of me. Hard median to my right, heavy-metal Sumo on my left, I didn’t have much to do or think, I braked hard, real hard, and stopped just short of the fallen human and machine waiting to be crushed.

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Shell outlets: shutdown coming?

Suman isn’t the only one. I too noticed that my neighborhood Shell bunk now sells only the premium petrol (Shell supreme or something), cost ranging from Rs 61 – 64 a liter over last month. The BP bunk nearby offers Rs 52 – 55 Rs/liter. 15% is a bit much premium to pay, though I know I get 8-10% better mileage with Shell. So, no more Shell now. And guessing from reduced crowds at this Shell bunk, this seems to be the case with many.

Reliance recently announced shutting down all its retail petroleum outlets (pumps). How long before Shell does the same?

Now, while filling at the BP bunk, I can’t help staring at the diesel rates – Rs 36 odd per liter! That is a third less than petrol, again, a bit too much, and calling out to trade in my petrol car with a diesel.

Its all pretty sad though – us, the consumers not paying the real price for petrol, and more so for diesel. The whole sarkaari petroleum machinery is happy siphoning off money from organized adulteration business (I don’t have proof, so this is loose talk by definition). And by subsidizing the cost of fuel, they keep our mouths shut and voters happy. Wonderful arrangement – that subsidy is like a kickback for us to let distribution irregularities pass off under the carpet.

Will the fuel prices be unreasonably high if sarkaari control over distribution and pricing were to go away? Don’t know. May be not, because loss of subsidy may be offset by more efficient and clean distribution process brought in by private enterprise. Or may be yes. But why should government care?

Entrepreneurship around alternate energy will prosper only if we start paying the real high prices for petrol and diesel, isn’t it? We will change our driving and private vehicle usage patterns only if ‘real’ and high fuel prices start pinching our pockets dry, isn’t it? Its sort of like saying water is important so preserve it, but keeping potable water’s cost so low that you don’t take those threats seriously.

So tell me now. Which diesel is better, Swift VDI and Getz Prime?

Whats in a name?

No no. I m not talking about an IPL owner using team name to promote his brand (Royal Challengers). I have a slightly more fundamental question. Why is it that none of the teams have an Indian sounding name. Leave out Mumbai (Indians), but the other seven? Even in ICL, except Lahore Badshahs, its the same story.

BCCI or IPL team owners’ argument could be – we are trying to appeal to a global audience. But can’t that be done via some Indian names as well. Bangalore Hoysalas? Sher-e-Punjab? Delhi Pandavas or Mugals or Aryans? Leave it, I don’t want to think of all the controversial possibilities here, but why not?

Its not just the cricket team names you know. Think of recently created big brand names around you. Tell me how many of those are ‘local’ words or names. Why is no local airline willing to use local words (pushpak, garuda, pawan, vaayu etc, keep thinking)? Why did UTI bank go Axis? Why is it called a ‘Nano’, and not ‘sawaari‘, or ‘aam‘, or ‘rathh‘ (branding gurus can think better, pardon my weak attempts).

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Immunization on death bed!

What would you say if someone started vaccination programs for 50 year olds, or an immunization program for those on the death bed? Wasted effort, too late, non sense? Pick your reaction. Now, I may sound like over-dramatizing the talk around reservations in IITs and IIMs. But media and politicos beating so much drum around reservations in higher education institutions does make me react.

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Dignity of labor

Here is an MP’s take on the thing we call dignity of labor, which they say is about respecting another workman’s space and authority. I cut it out from a story today that talked about an IA pilot throwing a late MP out of his plane. (Asian Age, Zee News). This quote is from TOI:

“Rana (the pilot) then told me that it was not my business. I replied he was only a glorified driver and shouldn’t equate himself with a people’s representative.”

God knows what really happened there. But I quite liked the fact that MP chose to go on record with his ‘glorified driver’ talk.

Alpha dogs and blinking theory!?

Oh my god! I thought these guys were sportsmen. But for Mr Hayden, it clearly is more than that. Here is his answer to “Away from the field, how were the Indians?” question (full intvw here):

They were reasonably pleasant. At the end of the day, two alpha dogs are never going to sit in a cage and not look at each other. It is what it is. The way I see my cricket, if you’re the other alpha dog, you better not blink. I feel I’d be letting down my country if I was to blink. In terms of general human relations, I wouldn’t say there was ill-feeling. India had four months out here. We rarely saw them other than at the ground. It’s play and get back into the cage.

What the hell? What exactly is ‘blinking’, how does it make him let his country down? And whats this “play and get back into the cage” stuff? Moreover, how did he conclude that Indians were ‘reasonably pleasant’ when he rarely ‘saw them other than at the ground’? Continue reading

The news: Jodha Akbar, Bus Permit etc

They spotted Bhajji eating bananas, and thus started the latest round of monkey gesture allegations. From now on, a program director from Animal Planet channel will accompany media-men as they keep watch on Bhajji, his habits and gestures. Bihar will boycott all movies made in Bollywood, and Raj Thackrey, in turn, will force Mumbai-wallahs to make only Marathi movies. Whatever.

In the middle of all the news in papers over last month, here are 2 smallish items I have hand-picked for you. One of them said that Supreme Court has prevented UP state government from stopping screening of Jodha-Akbar in that state. UP banned Jodha Akbar for the most un-democratic of reasons – “to maintain law and order”. Wonder whose job it is to maintain law and order, and the right to freedom of expression? SC judges agreed, though March 14 is when we will hear more on this interesting petition.

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Ishant and Craig, 2008 and 1986

I don’t know why, but the the win today (Ind vs Aus), reminded me of a very similar ODI that was played in Brisbane, Australia about 22 years ago. India managed only 161, Australia surpassed that thanks to a nice 6th wicket partnership between Steve Waugh and one Mr Greg Mathews. Back then in early 1986, India had some reputation as winners of 83 and 85 ODI World Cups, a series against England at England, and they almost beat Australia in Australia in the preceding test series (rain saved Aus from losing Test #2). As we realized a few years later, Australia was on its way up then and and India was sliding down (just check the ODI and test records of the two teams from 1986 till 1996). That 1985/86 series saw a guy named Craig McDermott emerge as the lead strike bowler for Australia. Its Ishant Sharma right now. Steve Waugh turned out to be a fine captain just a few years down the line, and we might just see M S Dhoni turn out to be similar.

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