So what, if you work for the Government …

I thoroughly get bugged when I see bumper stickers (or rear windshield stickers) which proclaim what industry you are in.

So what if you work in the government? Do you have the sticker on so that the police should not catch you if you do not heed the traffic rules? If not why?

So what if you work for the government? Do you need preferential treatment? Why? If you need to prove your identity to get ‘things done’, you have already defeated the whole purpose. It means your governance is so bad that, you get things done, only if you have that sticker or the metal plate.

So what if someone you know or even you, are in the army. I have huge respect for folks in uniform. Please don’t ruin it for me. I have had several people actually tell me that, they have the sticker so that the police do not ‘bother’ them. (Remember regular police cannot slap charges on these folks – only military police can).

So what if you are an advocate, are you threatening me that, if I get into an accident or altercation with you, you will drag me to court? Are you trying to tell me that you are a big guy? What is the purpose of that bow tie sticker on your vehicle. I am sure that is not a vehicle pass that lets you into court. You do have some other form of identification. Then what is the need for the neck tie sticker.

I dont even agree with the police sticker. I have seen folks who are software engineers riding bikes with a ‘Police’ sticker. When asked, they would give some vague answer as, their brother, who is an office, occasionally take their bike, but mostly it is so that, police do not ‘bother’ them. Wow. It bothers me though. If a police officer is really rushing to a place where he is urgently required, either he would be riding an official vehicle, run through traffic like Keanu Reaves, or grab some random persons car in the middle of the road like Chris Tucker. He is not riding his brothers bike.

The one profession sticker that I think ‘could’ potentially be useful is the doctor sticker. Even there, I use could the phrase “potentially” because this need not be the case all the time. But then I am willing to take the extreme case in this one. Perhaps, being a doctor, there may be times when you have to rush to a hospital to which you have been summoned.

Maybe I should just adjust maadi and make this sticker for myself:

swengg

But then this would probably ensure that I get flagged by the police more. *Sigh*

 

 

Fear factor

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejcgerm/
flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejcgerm/

Quite contrary to what most of you might be thinking, this is not about any reality show, but is a part 2 of my previous post on random policing to deter minor traffic offenses.

I am originally from Chennai. My parents still live there and I make occasional trips to this beautiful city (Singaara Chennai, as we call it — beautiful Chennai). This post is about 2 observations and my take on how they could be connected.

First observation is the general talk (or sometimes lack of it) about the reduced petty level crime on the streets. I keep hearing that the police is also very sensitized to crimes like eve teasing, chain snatching, and the likes – which I shall term (very loosely, since I am not a law) petty crime on the streets.

The second observation is a more personal one – something that I have been seeing in the last 2-3 visits. Chennai Police seems to have procured a large number of interceptor vehicles. And no, I am not talking about the old ‘Police Jeeps’. I talking fancy Innovas, Xylos, and the likes. And these interceptors have the blue and red flashing lights mounted on top of them – very much like the Interceptors in the US have. Firstly, I am seeing a large number of them on the road – randomly policing, parked in sensitive corners (near the auto stand in Chennai Central and T.Nagar Pondy Bazaar are two examples). Secondly, these vehicles are standing there with their flasher lights on. This makes them visible from at least a km away.

cop1 cop2 cop3

So this brings me to the fear factor. When these police interceptor vehicles are ubiquitous and very visible from a large surface area, there is a sense of safety for the common man, and a sense of fear for the offenders. I believe this is probably the link between the two observations. I have also seen these interceptors ‘prowl’ areas – smaller streets, bigger avenues, you name it – I have seen them there. This probably also has an effect for petty crime – the fact that, at any time an interceptor might turn up.

As a side note, I am one of those who firmly believe that, if the Police Department is funded well (by means of equipment and salaries), the corruption would definitely reduce (note that I said reduce, for nature will also bring forward some bad apples to surprise you). When the corruption reduces, there is more respect for the police, and in turn towards the law. I really hope the governments look into this as well.

Net-net (as we say in tech circles sometimes), I believe this improve policing is step in the right direction towards a safer future. Kudos to Chennai Police. I really hope other Police Departments pick up the cue and take this to their cities too.

 

Random Policing and Minor Traffic Offences

(Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eirikref/)
(Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eirikref/)

This is something that I have been talking about for quite a while with friends and family. With the Bangalore Police getting more and more social savvy, I thought, I would try and pen down my thoughts here, and maybe point them to here.

This here, is an experiment based on human psychology, which has been very effective in traffic offense management in other countries. My experience is in the US, but all I have unfortunately, is anecdotal evidence and no formal numbers. Still, it is worth a try.

The principal premise of this experiment is that, if there are random checks and apprehensions of traffic offenders in a certain spot, drivers tend to be a little more careful, fearful of being apprehended in that spot.

Let me explain with an real life example of what I saw in the US.

There are certain areas in the US interstates, where it is known that there are hidden cameras catching traffic offenders. There are also certain pockets where there is ‘mostly’ a cop car hidden in the bushes waiting to nab a speeding vehicle. Over a period of time, drivers tend to know this, by either learning the hard way or through word of mouth, and these areas become very cautionary zones. After a little while, even if the cop car is not there, or if the camera is not there, this zone becomes a relatively safe zone.

I do have to admit that Bangalore police (and other state police) have attempted similar strategies and have had marginal success. I believe it is just that, this needs to be done more consistently and the net spread wider. For example, the Intermediate Ring Road in Bangalore. Drivers know that during non-peak hours, it is best not to over speed, since there is a good possibility that there is an interceptor with a radar speed gun at one of the invisible turns. So a lot of regular drivers in that area, are careful. And let me be honest, I learnt it the hard way too. I have seen similar exercises on the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) express way as well in the NCR region.

What do I mean by widening the net? I recommend installing cameras at obscure junctions where there is very repetitive signal jumping or turning at no-right-turns. Or, in a less tech savvy experiment, have a hidden policeman, noting down numbers and pictures using the cameras given to the traffic police. Challan offenders continuously and consistently for a month. Then move on to the next junction. The same effect as what happens in Intermediate Ring Roads would extend to junction after junction. Drivers would start ‘fearing’ hidden cameras or policemen. You would start people looking around for cameras and hesitantly start following rules. Get news media (social and print)  to cover this.

We would need patience to see large scale effect of this experiment. But then, neither was Rome built in a day, or for that matter, neither did all Americans drive with fear of the law, in a day. The world’s oldest democracy probably took quite a while to get this state. It is just that it is not publicized.

This is, in my humble opinion, a relatively low cost, low effort, experiment to start instilling road sense into drivers. It starts off with “fear of being challened”. But then, when people start seeing the effect, I am sure fear would turn into respect and appreciation, and it would sustain.

Signed,

Eternal Optimist.

 

 

The men in Black (Advocates Issue in Karnataka)

As much as I do avoid writing about political issues, I could not resist penning down my current frustration at what is happening in the Karnataka at the moment.

For those who are not in the know of what happened since Friday:

  • Some lawyers attack media persons. Police disperse this issue.
  • Later friday evening, some lawyers attack local people and media folk from upper floors of the court.
  • Police bring in force to control the situation
  • Lawyers threaten not to stop if half the force is not diverted elsewhere
  • Police in an attempt to placate the situation agree and divert some of the police force away from the court premises.
  • Some lawyers take advantage (was this planned?) and set fire multiple vehicles on fire (including police vehicles). Some rooms inside the court premises also ransacked. A magistrate chased.
  • Lawyers flee by changing into plain clothes through the back entrance.

Few things irritate me about this situation. A well known saying is that – “Two people whom one should tell the truth and the whole truth are doctors and lawyers”. Such is the respect that is given to lawyers in society. They are the saviors of law. They are the ones who fight for other people’s rights. It is disgusting to see these folks pelt stones at the common man, and set fire to police vehicles etc. If they had had any sense of moral responsibility towards their profession, they would have handled this situation in a much more dignified way (whatever the original reason for the fight was! Arnt they trained in making well pointed arguments?).

I, for one, lost a lot of faith in the lawyer community after this incident. And it is going to take a while to regain it. Not that the musings of this ordinary man would matter much to them.