Category Archives: The Government

It’s an ‘Auto’matic reaction

Standard

401935073_de4c5d9b65_mLast year (or maybe in was in early 2009), the Mumbai Road Transport Office (RTO) announced a way to curb errant cab/autorickshaw drivers. It asked consumers to report badge numbers of the guilty drivers anonymously (on postcards, no less) to the RTO so that action could be taken for refusing to ply.

The issue in Mumbai is that these transporters refuse  customers more than they agree to ply . Often the destination is too close. Or it is too far. Or too much traffic. Or no return fare. Or their favourite excuse — they don’t want to go.

It doesn’t matter where you stay. I live in Andheri West and my office in Andheri East. Distance-wise it is 7 kilometres but traffic and congestion-wise, it takes me an hour, in the least. In rickshaw-land, Andheri east is an absolute no-no.

Of course that isn’t the rickshaw’s fault but every morning I have to stop myself from from cursing them to hell and back because I have to go through at least 10 on some day and none on others.

Most just swing by, not even glancing at you and the few that stop disgustingly click their tongues and  zoom off. There is absolutely no scope to get their badge numbers. The few that I have actually asked drove off so quickly that if I hadn’t pulled back hand, I would be an arm short today. Some even threatened me for asking their for badge numbers!  I judiciously took down the rickshaw numbers but turns out upto 10 (!!) drivers share an autorickshaw and its relevant permit.

Turns out people taking autos from anywhere in Mumbai to anywhere in Mumbai face this problem. In fact, all you need to say, in a public gathering, is “three autos refused today to come here,” and I guarantee, at least two voices will chime in saying, “me too.”

There have been days when after sitting in an auto, he has refused to ferry me further. Even a threat of calling the police to the auto did not deter him. I sometimes wonder where do they get such arrogance? Tomorrow if we actually stopped flagging them, wouldn’t they suffer more than us. Because we have seen that when those two days when MNS threatened the autorickshaw drivers and they kept off the road and Mumbai rejoiced at the reduced congestion. So who will really suffer I wonder.

Some days ago I ran into a rickshaw driver who saw me flailing autos like a complete mad woman. As he approached me, I did not ask him but just jumped into the auto, and very aggressively said, “Andheri west!” To his credit, he did not say anything and started homeward. After I cooled down some, he asked me if I had been waiting for long. I almost had a tantrum. But he was a nice man and heard me out and even tried to reason with me saying that why they said no etc.

He even offered me to give  me his number and that I could call him whenever I liked. But towards the end of this ride, he asked me another strange question.  “Do you think they say no to you because they are Biharis and you aren’t?” I almost jumped up in shock. There was this mentality too?

Oh dear ..

I do occassionally (really rarely though) feel bad for these drivers because, after all, they drive on roads I gave up on long ago. But I keep wondering if that scheme did ever work. And what was the reaction of cab drivers to this scheme? Anybody has any idea?

I have to add here that despite all these complaints, I know that public transport in this city is still better than most other cities in the country but unfair is unfair. At least in Mumbai you do not have to negotiate for them to use the tariff meter.

Picture courtsey

Advertisements

My morning laugh.

Standard

Desipundit is to thank for it. I was laughing and nodding and trying not to say ‘Oh my god.How perfectly right he has managed to get it.’

Links for you to enjoy too.

Why creepy men are good for you.

The war for women.

Can’t we just agree to disagree and leave it at that?

Standard

This story from Mumbai Mirror made me realise that yes, we are increasingly submitting to more and more of self-censorship. The eventual result may be just for less damages (physical largely) but the subliminal effect on our psyches is damaging. We are, by default, not wont to even court debate, lest something dangerous were to be unleashed.

Last month, at the opening lecture at the literature festival at the Kala Ghoda Festival, Urvashi Butalia spoke about this very issue. I didn’t think about it much but one of her sentences stayed with me. “Today no publisher will even think of publishing the Satanic Verses,” she said. She was talking of about the fatwa that completed 20 years. She delved a bit into how publishing was slowly steeping in self-censorship.

It struck me that we are slowly reaching a point where we are getting averse to any criticism, especially the kind we cannot defend. This piece published last month and a follow-up done because of the ‘affected sentiment’ made me wonder if that’s the kind of society we are heading to becoming. Where someone who dares to disagree is thrashed or arrested or even killed. Which part of democracy allows for this kind of anarchy?

Religion and our now-infamous ‘culture’ are fast becoming favourite subjects. Muddled in all this are election agendas. Muddled in this half-informed but educated people who think ‘yes my local culture is disappearing so let’s thrash everyone who doesn’t agree to what I say’. Muddled in this are people who think technology and ‘IT’ brought this into India.What is ‘this’ I don’t know.

I saw Billu (Barber) some days ago and one entire sequence was ruined (ruined may be a strong word because the movie is strictly average) because every third work has been silenced because it was hajaam. I understand that in a nation of over a billion people, there will almost always be a group that does not like something but do we honestly have to cater to all and bend over backwards in doing so?

Such censorship is completely at odds with freedom of speech, which is a right our Constitution gives us.  Art, opinion, cinema, speech all should be voiced — even if it is some one like Mutalik who says what he says.

Hindutva is not how it is meant to be

Standard

In the last few months, even the last one year… I have been forced to constantly question my eternal hatred of Narendra Modi. Somehow it’s one feeling that hasn’t dimmed since 2002. No amount of books on the subject or clean chits given to him or the industry doyens hailing him as the CEO of new India has made a difference.

In my new office I came across a girl who has made me question it really closely. Has it really become fashionable to hate Hindus? (the example of Slumdog Millionaire fit in as recently) Am I really that one-sided about it? Not willing to see that HE may be a good administrator (the roads in that start are fantastic) even as he willingly let children and babies die. Yes he wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last.  But for some reason he was the turning point

But I realised slowly why I hated the Hindu right-wing lobby. It’s mostly because these bloody right wing lobbyists showed me how this was not the Hindusim I grew up with.

The religion I was brought up with showed me equal opportunity was not something some people deigned to give. It wasn’t the religion that put down other communities, made victims of innocent people. It wasn’t the religion that decided because I was woman, I wasn’t allowed to do the many things that men are allowed to.

It didn’t make me feel ashamed. That I was a Hindu.

And for that one reason alone I will never be able to support right-wing Hindu fundamentalists and if that means not supporting an able administrating government, so be it.
If it means I have a different ideology and that I support minorities who aren’t always fair to other minorities, so be it.

Because I was taught not to be ashamed of my religion and I will do everything in my power to make that right.

Post it

Standard
Image courtesy, Wikipedia

Image courtesy, Wikipedia

Just today morning, I was thinking about how litte people wrote letters any more or sent telegrams or even went to the Post Office. I had even heard that the Indian Post had improved their courier service (Speed Post) to match all private courier operators.

As I was wondering why the Indian Post didn’t do better in efficiency, I came across a brief in a today’s Economic Times:

Govt withdraws Indian Postal Act amendment
NEW DELHI: The government has withdrawn a proposed amendment to the Indian Postal Act that included making courier companies charge a hefty premium over post Speed Post rates from customers, thereby costing them business, a top government official said on Thursday. The department of posts (DoP) will redraft the Bill and send it for the cabinet’s consideration, said DoP secretary Radhika Doraiswamy at a function here on Thursday.

*******

That’s when I realised why the Indian Postal Department was never going to do well, financially. This department also follows what nearly every one else in this country does:  “Let me stop progress of other competitors and by that virtue I will do better. Who care about being efficient and doing my job well?”

And as nasty thoughts crept in, I remembered all those instances where parcels were brought opened and/or empty, letters and greetings never reached on time and the staff considered it their duty to be rude to you.

And to bring a smile back, check out P. L Deshpande’s  ‘Majhe Postatil Jeevan‘ (in marathi).