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This refers to your cover story The Signal Turns an Angry Red (September 30). Sterner penalty for traffic violations is a good corrective measure to reduce the traffic mess and road accidents. It is harsh, but necessary. This will not only be heavy on the pocket, but also instill fear of jail in people. Unfortunately, our people understand this language better. The aim should be to improve traffic discipline and not to make money—and that’s the real test for policemen. If they fail this test, then the new law will fail. Any policeman found taking bribe from traffic defaulters should be suspended. Also, the heavy fines will be accepted by people only if we provide them well-maintained roads and effective traffic management. It cannot be a one-sided affair of punishing people. We also need to reduce vehicle density on the roads by improving the public transport system, and by building a cycling culture in the country.
R.D. Singh, Ambala Cantt
The new traffic rules may serve to quell the death dance on Indian roads to an extent. But the conditions of the roads are also despicable in the first place, especially after the monsoon, contributing to ghastly accidents and traffic snarls. The government ought to have proposed the new traffic regulations only after doing a good job of providing citizens with safe surfaces to drive on.
George Jacob, Kochi
As is clearly evident from long queues for pollution checks and a sudden spurt in helmet sales, we don’t understand any language other than that of the stick. But even some BJP-ruled states have either not accepted the new traffic rules and fines, or are avoiding implementation. The number of road accidents puts us in an embarrassing position, and we collectively need to change our behaviour to change this. The government and local administration of every city must ensure that the roads are in good condition and traffic is managed well.
Bal Govind, Noida
Overspeeding and negligent driving have increased, leading to fatal accidents frequently in cities. This has been causing an alarm despite imposition of stiff penalties by the law-enforcing agencies. Breaking road rules without fear of law has been posing a huge risk to people. As safety on roads has taken a beating due to the menace of aggressive driving, giving more teeth to the traffic police infrastructure by way of enhanced fines is a step in the right direction. This will instil fear in drivers, helping them understand the need to drive with great caution. Maintaining discipline on the road is paramount for our safety.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Your story on traffic woes in Bangalore (This City Never Moves, September 30) has missed some issues. There have been record sales of two-wheelers in the past five years, and car sales too had seen an upswing until last year. The current dip in car sales is thanks to Ola, Uber and the Metro, which have made commuting in the city more convenient and less time-cosuming. The problem lies in the indiscipline of those who flout traffic rules. They should be punished.
Rangarajan T.S., Bangalore
This refers to your cover story on deepfakes (What the Fake!, September 23). Mobile phones are extremely helpful—we just need to use them correctly. Social media helps us connect with people in a few seconds. At the same time, it can create panic and spread fake news, which has led to violence and deaths. The need of the hour is more awareness regarding fake news and stricter vigilance. Social media offers a wealth of information, but we have to use our judgement to see how reliable and true the information is.
Kamal Kapadia, Mumbai
This refers to your story on Kerala’s iconic boat races becoming professional (Snakes and Leaguers, September 23). What pains me is the commercialisation of the races. Typically, boat races in the Vembanad Lake were not competitions; they were mass celebrations. There is an event during the Onam festival known as Onathallu, where friends in a neighborhood hit each other hard, but not to hurt. This is no professional boxing event and it is not globally televised. No bets are made. But now, money dominates most Onam events—the competition is purely commercial. However, this is not the spirit of Onam. When Maveli (whom the festival celebrates) ruled, the common folk were one. That is the spirit in which competitions during Onam should be held. Boat races are not IPL matches!
C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad
Where more taxes don’t ensure good roads, how can steeper fines stop accidents?
Jhunku Mathai, Amravati
This refers to the column on police reforms by former police officer Prakash Singh (The Constrained Arm of the Law (September 30). It made quite an interesting read. Excessive political interference is not the only reason the police forces of our country need to be reformed. The double standards displayed by the police in doing their duties have become a regular feature at thana or chowki level. They take quick and cruel action when the accused is poor and marginalised, and in a diametrically opposite way when dealing with the wealthy and the powerful. This is the reason behind the numerous cases of suspects being killed in police custody before they have a chance to be proven innocent, even as there are inordinate and intentional delays to avoid arresting culprits despite having verifiable evidence in other cases. Barring a few exceptions, the police have been groomed to toe the line of the ruling dispensation and to blindly follow the orders of those up the chain of command. Not unpredictably, police officers generally speak out against these circumstances only after they retire, while having participated during their sevice in the perpetuation of what they later choose to criticise. Is it because being in the force had made them incapable of being a common citizen, which, however, they are forced to become post-retirement, making them realise the need for reforming the police?
Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi
This refers to the article Where Did We Come From (September 23). Whenever certain research in favour of India is published, immediately a counter-article negating such findings is put out elsewhere to demean our country. This happened very recently after the publication of the findings at Rakhigarhi in the reputed journal Cell. ‘Pseudo-intellectual’ groups always try to negate India’s achievement in any field for their vested interests. This happens only in India. For long, a group of historians have sided with British colonialists. Enough is enough!
S.N. Chakravarty, New Delhi
Apropos Take the Road Taste (September 23), certifying street food as hygienic and safe can amp the business of roadside eateries and also spread awareness about safety norms. Although initially, only renowned street food hubs of different cities are part of this revolutionary gastronomic endeavour, it is bound to have a trickledown effect on nondescript eateries of even small towns and cities. Migrants everywhere heavily rely on street food and its improved quality will positively affect their health and productivity.
Kamna Chhabra, Gurgaon
This refers to your cover story The Demon on My Palm (September 16). The addiction to smart phones knows no bounds today—it afflicts the young and old alike. Recent research has shown that social media notifications on smart phones can cause ill-effects ranging from worsening of mood to jealousy and depression. Similarly, a study by Kaspersky Lab found that the productivity of employees increased by 26 per cent if smart phones were taken away from them. We also keep coming across fatal accidents due to vehicle drivers talking over phones or youngsters taking daredevil selfies. Interestingly, according to one report, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg strictly restrict their children from using technology at home. Steve Jobs did the same when he was alive. The highly sought-after Waldorf School of Silicon Valley bans electronic devices for students under 11, and teaches them to knit, cook and make go-karts. Anyway, why blame children when adults themselves are becoming pathologically addicted to the omniscient palm-held wonder?
C.V. Krishna Manoj, Hyderabad
Apropos the column Honey, I Shrunk the Economy (September 30), one does not have to look far for the cause of this Modi-made economic crisis. The transfer of RBI reserves proves that the government finances are in tatters. When the FM announced a slew of new measures and budget-related rollbacks, she silently acknowledged that the economy was teetering on the verge of crises. Growth has slowed down, investments have lost pace, unemployment is high and consumers have postponed purchases. Banks are quite cagey to lend to industry or even retail consumers because of their bad loans. Even though public comments from former PM Manmohan Singh are rare, back in 2016, he famously described demonetisation as an organised and legalised plunder of the common people. His warning of national income coming down by about two percentage points seems to be coming true. It is time to shun vendetta politics and listen to sane voices. Singh’s comments on the present economic policies of the government should be taken as an expert’s advice and not as criticism from a political rival.
L.J. Singh, On Email