Legacy Diaries

Purely a Manufacturing Defect

One Truth, Two Tickets

 If you ask a Chennaite, where he wishes to take a short road trip in a weekend, then definitely most of them will prefer East Coast Road, popularly called ECR particularly for its scenic highway along the Bay of Bengal. But to me travelling in this road during weekend in a public transport is the first thing I would hate to do. I live in a place which is in between Chennai and Pondicherry and ECR is the shortest route through which one can travel to Chennai. ECR is loved by those who visit occasionally and detested by those who travel regularly either due to accidents which occur very frequently or due to the crowd in the bus. The condition during weekends will be worst and you have to hang in footboard and travel for more than an hour. If this is the condition during a weekend, one can understand the experience during Diwali where almost everyone prefers to go their hometown to spend time along with their loved one’s during the festival season.

Source: Wikimedia
Koyambedu mofussil bus terminus, which is Asia’s second largest is the starting point for all outstation buses from Chennai. After this main depot, there are 6 other bus stops within Chennai. But the fact is that you will not get even a corner to stand if you miss to board the bus in Koyambedu. The problem for me is quite different, though all the buses have to stop in my locality; conductors usually don’t allow passengers other than those who take ticket to Pondicherry to board the bus before Thiruvanmiyur which is the last and final stop within Chennai. The main reason is passengers travelling to Pondicherry prefer to travel seated and conductors don’t want to lose even a single passenger due to unavailability of seats.  Many a times complaints were lodged to State Transport Corporation regarding such harassment, but the problem continues even now. Conductors used to stand outside the bus before it starts and used to keep saying that only Pondicherry tickets has to get in. If someone ignores him , then they will be yelled in front of all passengers and as usual no co-passengers comes in rescue of you, after all they get a seat if you wake up.

 I went with my family for a last minute shopping during this Diwali and faced similar situation. We decided to turn back before 4PM to skip the crowd in the evening. But nothing goes as planned and we reached the bus stop only at 05.30PM. The bus stand was like a carnival and every bus which is to start a couple of hours later were full and people were standing inside not sad but happy that they got a place inside. Mine is a travel of an hour and half. No conductors allowed us to board and I was bit worried to board ignoring them. Passengers were quarrelling with drivers and conductors about why they were not allowed to board, just because they have to get down in between. Conductors were bothered about the revenue, giving my seat to one who travels to Pondicherry will get him double my charge. More the collection more is his bonus. We waited for more than 2 hours, but the crowd didn’t see to decrease. Finally I decided to take the vehicle ignoring the conductors and pretended initially to be someone travelling to the final destination, got a seat and didn’t say anything or responded to the conductor’s call before the bus started. The bus finally started and the conductor started to give tickets from the front. It took him more than half an hour to reach me, but the bus has not moved even to the second stop due to the heavy traffic. I also had a thought that he might ask me to get down in the next stop. I gave him money and asked two tickets to Kalpakkam which is my locality. He didn’t take the money, instead stared at me. He yelled whether I don’t understand Tamil or I had not heard what he said all time before the bus started. I could have lied and acted that my mother who travels with me is sick and I don’t have any other option. In fact, that was the advice given to me from a stranger which encouraged us to get into the bus. It is true that if I say that my mom is not well, the conductor may scream for some time and will give a seat at least to my mom, asking me to get up and give space to someone else who travels to Pondicherry. But I preferred to tell the actual scenario. I told him that I had been waiting in the bus stop for more than two hours, as there was no other option I got into the bus. I also told him that it was my situation and if there is any target provided to the conductors by the transport corporation which is forcing them to do so, then I said that is fine for me to pay more and take Pondicherry ticket, even though I am going to get down in between.  He had a smile and took the actual cost to my stop and moved to next passenger without saying anything. It is the truth which not just got me a seat, but an idea or solution to a long standing issue too. Repeated complaints to State transport corporation or grievance cell didn’t have any result. But just a voluntary acceptance to pay extra charge not just helped that day but is still giving a better result. No conductor will take the voluntary acceptance and give a long distance ticket; after all it is like digging his own graveyard. 

Extracts from "Why I am an Atheist" :Bhagat Singh

  Treasure hunt on thoughts begins when one is in solitude.  Difficult knots are untangled with the support of the silence. Many master pieces had their birth in such scenario. One such master piece which I read recently was the essay written by revolutionary Indian leader Bhagat Singh in 1930 in Lahore Central Jail. “Why I am an Atheist” is a reply given to a religious man, who said that Bhagat Singh became an Atheist because of his vanity. I wonder how I, being an Atheist and an admirer of Bhagat Singh as a revolutionary leader was clueless about such an essay all these days. Below I am copy pasting few extracts from the essay which had an impact on me as a reader.  If you wish to read the entire essay, can skip to the bottom to get the link to the complete text.

About Creation of God.....
My thought is that man created God in his imagination when he realized his weaknesses, limitations and shortcomings

On Constructive thinking.....:The lines which I liked the most. This is what many of us do when it comes to criticisms on popular ideas and great leaders
"You go against popular feelings; you criticise a hero, a great man who is generally believed to be above criticism. What happens? No one will answer your arguments in a rational way; rather you will be considered vainglorious. Its reason is mental insipidity. Merciless criticism and independent thinking are the two necessary traits of revolutionary thinking. As Mahatmaji is great, he is above criticism; as he has risen above, all that he says in the field of politics, religion, Ethics is right. You agree or not, it is binding upon you to take it as truth. This is not constructive thinking. We do not take a leap forward; we go many steps back."

Being Selfless.....: Many move out of their ideologies while facing fiasco. Crisis is just a hurdle to test your hold in your ideology. Most of the times the reason for falling out their ideology falls to be some selfish reason.
"One of my friends asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism, he said, “When your last days come, you will begin to believe.” I said, “No, dear sir, Never shall it happen. I consider it to be an act of degradation and demoralisation. For such petty selfish motives, I shall never pray.”

Question to believers......:
"Open your eyes and see millions of people dying of hunger in slums and huts dirtier than the grim dungeons of prisons; just see the labourers patiently or say apathetically while the rich vampires suck their blood; bring to mind the wastage of human energy that will make a man with a little common sense shiver in horror. Just observe rich nations throwing their surplus produce into the sea instead of distributing it among the needy and deprived. There are palaces of kings built upon the foundations laid with human bones. Let them see all this and say “All is well in God’s Kingdom.” Why so? This is my question. You are silent."

Learning….: If your view on something is same as it was few years before then you haven't learned or updated anything new
"‘Study more and more’, said I to myself so that I might be able to face the arguments of my opponents. ‘Study’ to support your point of view with convincing arguments. And I began to study in a serious manner. My previous beliefs and convictions underwent a radical change. "

From a Romantic revolutionary…: Romanticism is the beginning even for great leaders.
"I was only a romantic revolutionary, just a follower of our leaders. Then came the time to shoulder the whole responsibility. For some time, a strong opposition put the very existence of the party into danger. Many leaders as well as many enthusiastic comrades began to uphold the party to ridicule. They jeered at us. I had an apprehension that some day I will also consider it a futile and hopeless task. It was a turning point in my revolutionary career."

These extract were handpicked from  and the complete text of the essay originally written in Gurumukhi script and translated to English by Hasan can be read here:

Safety Begins With Me

    India, which is the home of 1 percent of the World’s Vehicle Population accounts for 10 percent of the fatalities due to road accidents. UN has declared 2011-2020 as the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”, but in 2012 alone as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCCB) 1.39Lakh persons have lost their lives and the recorded total accidents were approximately four times the fatality count. According to a working committee’s report of Planning Commission published a decade ago, India loses 3% of GDP every year due to accidents, but what we have learned from the study seems to be marginal and the International Road Federation (IRF), a non-profit organisations report reaffirms the same accounting Rs.1Lakh Crore as loss due to road accidents in India.

Road Safety Triangle

Road Safety
Road safety has to begin with self, but it also needs a supporting hand from the law makers and enforcement agencies. Engineering, Education and Enforcement are the three sides of the triangle and all three sides have to be firm and mutually supporting to curb road accidents.

Road Engineering: Accidents in road are not always due to driving errors, many a time poor road engineering is also the cause. In India, road contractors are not made accountable and we don’t have any warranty period for the laid roads unlike other developed countries in the world. Engineering changes of International standard like the Victoria Road Model in Australia has to be implemented.  Though policy makers’ role plays a vital role in bringing engineering changes, the role of end users (you and I) plays a crucial role. Reporting to the concern agencies and following the steps taken with respect to the flaws in the road ensures affirmative action.

Education: Education or road safety awareness is the heart of the triangle. Not much change can be brought, without the assent of the individuals. Road safety awareness which includes wearing helmets, seat belt, following traffic rules and signals, avoiding intoxicating drinks, avoiding usage of handheld devices , using low beam etc., can achieved only by brining awareness among the road users. Government and other private bodies like NISSAN through their Corporate Social Responsibility have taken steps in the last few years to bring awareness  to the public about following road safety rules is a healthy sign.

Enforcement: “It doesn’t matter whether you ride well or not, the one who comes opposite to you may not be riding properly” my grandmother used to quote the same whenever I plan for a road trip. In many cases rash driving, breaking traffic rules, drunken driving are the cause for the accidents. I do not wish to call them accidents as they are more or less murders and there required stringent punishment for the same. The Supreme Court judgement suggesting stringent punishment for deaths caused due to drunken driving need to be advertised. Sometimes fear of punishment can also bring changes. From the law makers, the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014 which intends to bring amendments to the outdated Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 is a positive sign.

The three walls of the triangle can be made strong only with the support of the individual citizens or at least the vehicle users. In the population of 125 Crores we cannot expect enforcement agencies or law makers to patch the road safety issues moving nook and corner. Even in the age of mass media, information and awareness doesn’t reach the targeted audience in large. Every individual has to play a vital role in spreading road safety awareness just like a nuclear chain reaction.

Promoting Safety

India has signed the UN Vehicle Safety Regulations in 1998 which promotes Steering Mechanism, Seat Belt Anchorages, safety belt and restraint systems, child restraint, occupant protection, electronic stability control, pedestrian protection etc. But as per the Global New Car Assessment programme (NCAP) safety crash test which was done first time for Indian cars comes out with shocking revelation that most of the cars failed to cope up the safety standards. It was highly debated in Media, but a closer look at the look at the same gives a clear cut view of what went wrong. For example, Nissan Datsun Go too failed in the crash test and was published across newspapers and news channels; here it is worth understanding that three of the cars manufactured by Nissan and sold in US bagged 2014 IIHS Top safety pick and Nissan Teana received the first ever maximum ratings (5 stars) for using child restraints. So it is a clear indication that something lags in India to fix such safety measures by default. The clearest reason is that the end user wishes to buy budget cars forcing the manufacturers to provide safety features like Air Bags or Anti-Lock braking system as an additional option and secondly there are no prescribed safety norms unlike US or EU markets. Promoting safety while buying cars can bring changes and just like all it is me who has to decide what I need.  Whether I am going to get satisfied with the least priced or better safety? We should know our priorities.

Innovation and Integration

Though education plays a vital role in reducing accidents due to traffic rules violation, using high beam, drunken driving and using mobile phone while driving and so on, technological innovation can bring such changes by default forcing a violator to follow the rules and protecting the road user at the other end.

Drunken Driving: Mandatory provision for Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or Breathe Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID). The technology is already tested and implemented in various parts of the developed world and the role of the policy makers is now essential for the mandatory implementation of the same in India.

Avoiding Mobile Phone Usage:  “SMARTwheel” technology which tracks the individual and provides signal when either of the hands or both hands are removed for long time or when the hands are placed nearby as done during texting. These signals could be programmed by default to a traffic control room and instant actions could be taken on violators. The technology could be very well implemented in highways and cities in the initial phase.

High Beam: Glare free high beam function is one such innovation which allows the user to drive with high beam without creating glare at the other end.

Seat Belt: A simple seat belt interlock without which a vehicle cannot start or provide continuous beep sound is more than sufficient to force an individual to wear seat belts. Apart from it, automatic voice recording which should announce the impacts of not wearing seat belts should sound continuously till the user opts to wear seat belt.

An App Suggestion

Smartphone technology has rooted even to the remotest places of India and a simple app with well integrated features can provide better results. This app concept is totally formulated by me (Ganesh Babu S) and I wish it would be live someday. The app can yield better result if it is operated by the enforcement agencies directly.

Issues that need to be addressed:
  • Carrying hard copies of licence, insurance, RC book etc., still remains a hectic issue particularly for two wheeler users. In spite of having all these documents many users forget to carry the same and end up paying penalty.
  • Failure to renew vehicle insurance in time either due to any reason whatsoever.
  • Poor awareness about insurance providers and the riders provided along.
  • Inability to cross verify the authenticity of the certificates provided during verification of the documents by the policemen.

What the app intends to focus?
  • Every user must create an account for him and will be asked to provide his AADHAR id (hoping that universal coverage will be done in the near future).
  • He can provide certificate numbers of the RC book, insurance and licence numbers. All should be verified for its originality and a unique account number should be provided for the user. The vehicle registration number itself can be used as a unique number for better remembrance.
  • During verification by the police, just entering the vehicle number in the hand held device provided to the policemen is sufficient to verify documents.
  • When the date of insurance is about to lapse, the user can renew the same from the app and the app will designed to notify every day in the last 30 days before the expiry of the insurance.
  • The additional money earned by the enforcement agency through the sales of insurance can be invested again in road safety awareness.
  • The app will also have an option encouraging users to complain violators to the enforcement and part of the fine collected can be awarded as points which can be redeemed later for renewing insurance.
  • Road safety awareness pop up every day in the mobile and minimal points as mentioned above could be provided for activating the same and sharing the same in social networking sites through the application.

Overall it will be a citizen centric approach to address the issues.

“Be the Change You Wish to see in the World - Mahatma Gandhi”.
 The first step towards a healthy road safety will be a change within us. Let us begin and spread the word to our family and friends. Follow and obey the rules even if the entire world around you violates. Remember safety begins with every one of us.

Rise Above Fear : Pages from the Past

    To many of us fear doesn’t come all of a sudden; it needs a concrete reason for the door to be opened. The fear which I am focusing is not the ordinary inborn or mystical fears of human beings. When I mean ‘Fear’ it is the sudden blow which threatens you from doing some bustle which you always wished to do or had as an ambition. The tribulation caused by the fear is deep-seated and recovery remains uncertain. Without a strong will at the passion the fear will force one to limbo. I grew up taking risks and I loved taking them. Mystical fears surrounded till my age of 16, but the social environment which I grew up never threatened from taking life risks. In fact it encouraged me. I always felt that voting alone is not the right (actually duty) of a citizen, but raising voice against the delinquencies is also one such obligation which we rather follow. But all your courage and fearless attitude can be detonated all of a sudden.

   An accident which I met in September 2013 caused such trauma. I was in Chennai which is 70kms from my residence for giving an important examination. The exam centre was in a remote locality forcing me to skip food the entire day. As I got bus immediately after coming out of the examination hall, I decided to stay hungry and have food at home. The bus travelled along the scenic East Coast Road popularly called ECR and reached my vicinity around 06.30 in the evening.  I started my bike parked in a shed and noticed the petrol level to be low. I filled the tank in the nearest Indian Oil petrol bunk in the ECR and when I was about to turn back to my home, I received a call from my friend and he asked me to come to a tea shop where all our friends used to have tea. I travelled few more distance far from my home in the same road, had tea with them to temporarily satisfy my hungry stomach. It was 8 PM then and I received call from my home to enquire my whereabouts. So I bid adieu to my friends and started returning back. I was travelling at a speed of 60-70 km/hr, but it is an allowed average speed in that road and for my Pulsar. It was too dark to notice anything other than that visible in the beam of light. All of a sudden I noticed two small boys riding their cycle criss-cross entering my track. They came inside so instant, forcing me to push my handlebar away from them instead of applying break, which forced to skid in the road. The vehicle dragged me for several meters and I was rotating along my vehicle in the busy road where to my luck had no vehicle at that moment. I was lying in the road in front of the same petrol bunk where there was a queue still. Nobody wants to quit his line to rescue me; I woke up myself and lifted my vehicle to the corner. I was bleeding from my head and nose and one of my fingers went numb and it seemed to be a fracture. I was terribly shocked by the priority of the people and finally a woman who had shop near came with a bottle of water. People later surrounded me, but all were busy enquiring me how the incident occurred. None wants to waste their precious time by taking me to the hospital which is just a kilometre away. With torn clothes, blood and pain all over my body I called my friends who were still standing in the tea shop. It is then after their arrival I was taken to the hospital. I was taken to the Department of Atomic Energy hospital which is exclusive for the employees and their dependents working in DAE. I reached the hospital around 8.40PM and the duty doctor prescribed for a dressing and scan for head as it was continuously bleeding in nose. Though the boys who came inside my track had no severe injures except abrasions, their relatives came in search of me to the hospital to get compensation. In India it doesn’t matter who does mistake, the rider of the relatively bigger vehicle is criticized for the accident. But the harsh thing is, they were aware of my injuries and even then expected compensation citing that they want to make complete body check-up. My friends and relatives were managing the situation outside the hospital. The duty doctor requested a senior doctor to come to hospital as it didn’t stop bleeding. The doctor’s quarter is within the hospital premises, but the senior doctor took more than one and half hours to reach the spot. She was already late, but even then she was shouting at the juniors for not arranging proper vehicle for her arrival. She referred me to the nearest multispecialty hospital and I was taken in the ambulance. Till that moment I felt that I was normal and nothing has happened, but once the siren started to rotate in the ambulance fear started creeping in. It was 10.30PM and I was not sure whether I am feeling sleepy because of tiredness or I am falling unconscious due to the blood loss. I was taken to the hospital in another 30 minutes and was shifted immediately to the emergency room. Doctors surrounded me and I was immediately sent for multiple tests. I was made to lie down in the emergency room post all tests. All other cases which were admitted after me increased my fear of the society. One person was attacked by gang with knife and sickle and was suffering for life; where as other person has tried to commit suicide by consuming poison. The noises around created trauma within me. I always wished and wanted to be an honest civil servant, fighting against corruption and other issues in the society. But the way society treated me that day and cases around me in the emergency room made me afraid. It threatened me to carry on into the rest of my life smoothly throwing away all my ambitions and revolutionary ideas. My family and friends were waiting outside and their tears increased my fear of the society. I wondered what will happen to my family if something happens to me, as at that moment I was the lone bread winner. I had fracture in my fingers and a bone in my face. It took me several weeks to recover from the injury and the stability in little finger went unrecovered totally.

     I recovered from the incident later, but the trauma it caused didn't allow me to involve in focussing in my society oriented activities. Whenever you are in some distress there is always a way to come out. The incident of Major Mukund Varadarajan who was killed in an encounter with terrorist was in news. His bravery motivated me to throw away all my fears. In a game of Chess you lose only when you make a mistake. I listed my drawbacks and my negative aspects and tried to overcome them. My anger over the behaviour of the society in my incident cooled down, I realised that it is the needs which the society demands makes them run blind to the social evils in the life. Do your duty and do not expect anything in return turned to be my mantra. Now I am totally out of the fear which followed me like a shadow post incident. I have succeeded in overcoming my fear which caught me in between. A day to be a civil servant is not too far and working hard presently to fight against the evils in the society despite the risks (hurdles) involved.