Sunday, August 20, 2017
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I distinctly recall that in 1962, when I entered the profession and would go to my newspaper office for night duty on my cycle, I made it a point to carry my cycle light with me. The policemen at the crossings were very strict.

They would show no mercy if they found any cyclist or rickshaw without light. The rickshaw-pullers used kerosene lamps whereas cyclists in some cases had started using the battery-operated lamps. Some had dynamo fixed on their cycles so that they did not have to worry about kerosene or batteries. But rules were strict. And because the demand was high, many torch-manufacturing companies had started producing the special-shaped lamps with provision for fixing them in the hook below the centre of the handle.
But when after the mid ’sixties of the last century, the first Samyukta Vidhayak Dal Government came and Rustom Satin was one of the ministers in the Cabinet representing the leftists, he came out with the theory that since kerosene oil was expensive, beyond the purse of a rickshaw-puller who was finding it difficult to make both ends meet, so the rule relating to the compulsory carrying of lights by rickshaws was abandoned. That was the first step towards road indiscipline. Lights disappeared from cycles and rickshaws and gradually several other changes also started taking place—changing for the worse—to woo the different categories of vote-banks. The objective to woo the rickshaw-pullers was totally political. But did Rustom Satin or his party benefit from it in the long run? The answer is there in the compositions of the governments that followed. For short-term political gains we have been causing long-term damage to our system . And the sphere of traffic management is one of them. In case traffic is going out of control, out of gear, who is responsible for this if not police lethargy fanned by the lust for collecting Suvidha Shulk and aggravated by political interference?

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