Do Not Trivialize Priorities Of Progress
Prof N.K. Singh
Former Chairman International Airports Authority of India
Lately, a lot of non issues in the name of reform are being thrown in the air. With the result, we are not able to steer ship of the country clear to its chosen development goals. We had enough of Azadi, freedom of expression, controversy and award wapsi. Some journalists have made it a credo to find fault with whatever Modi does and fail to show the right and positive direction to developmental efforts. Everyday minor issues hog limelight as anything against the government is welcome to a coterie of writers and debaters. How much public debate is centered round Avind Kejriwal, who really is a fragment of the national scene being sub Chief Minister of a small territory and that also constitutionally dwarfed functionary? But even when he sneezes there is a scoop and front paged news or channel crooning is sure to appear in many of the media spaces. He spends crores on publicity and makes false claims every now and then but all are debated rather than being ignored. Mind of the nation seems to be fed with frivolous news and write-ups.
Problem has become serious since even the Supreme Court seems to have joined this race for trivia. Take the case of court issuing notices to some state governments on killing of stray dogs. Former Bihar CM Lalu’s fodder scam amounts to corruption of Rs 9 billion and is hanging since last two decades with ups and downs. Why it cannot be dealt with expeditiously and decided? But the court is busy protecting stray dogs and such other trivia. The worst was its ban of liquor shops within 500 meters of the national highways. It took no time for the court to pronounce this judgment while it rendered lakhs of people jobless and loss of legally permitted trade. One fine morning, I found people running on roads with the measuring tape. And if one was one meter less he jumped with joy. And another if he was two feet in the zone, lost his living. Why the court was so ruthless on people with lesser means than Lalu Prasad?
True, the concern for road safety is justified but the road is not unsafe merely due to liquor shops. Two basic steps to reduce accidents and prevent deaths have not been considered. First is faulty licensing or untrained people driving vehicles. Second is lax policing on the highways where no strict check on drunken driving or exemplary punishments are prescribed. All countries where safety record is better are sticking to these two basics. Once I was travelling on a European high way with a Professor who happened to be advisor to the Prime Minister of that country. He was speeding and all of a sudden, we found a motorcyclist police man over taking us to stop us. He took out the papers and asked him his license. Professor was booked who dutifully surrendered all papers. He was fined instantly. Later, I asked him why he could not use the authority of the office of Prime Minister to get away. He calmly said it will not cut any ice as road law is strict. This is policing and rule of the law.
In my country you can easily get out of the road law violation with tips. Last month, I was in Delhi and my driver told me that while coming to fetch me from hospital he was nabbed by the police. I asked him what happened whether a case registered and we go to the court? He lightly smiled and said, “no sir, it cost much this time, Rs 500’’. He told me earlier it used to be much less but since Modi has come they are afraid and did not take money on the road; rather took him to side in a shed telling him “These days anybody can take a video”. Can Supreme Court ensure that police strictly enforces the law? We are not solving the problem by removing shops but only cosmetic treatment to a malady is being offered.
First Passenger: If Delhi AAP is in shambles, what will happen in Himachal?
Second Passenger: Nothing, someone joked, they are changing name from AAP to JAP to do Jap now.