Home > Musings > On the road – In Delhi & NCR

On the road – In Delhi & NCR

Our weekly meetings usually begin with a brief safety message. Most often these are related to traffic woes. It is not surprising given the fact that roads in Delhi and NCR are notorious for road rage, traffic jams, flouting of traffic rules and poor enforcement. Donkeys, buffaloes, cows, dogs, cyclists, cycle rickshaws and pedestrians compete with cars, buses, trucks and auto-rickshaws for space. All of us are familiar with that rush of adrenalin when someone cuts in front or a slow moving vehicle occupies the fastest lane.

The safety message we had today invariably converged on this familiar theme. My colleague was stuck in traffic for over 40 minutes. Finally he got out of the car and together with some others tried to impose some order to the chaos. While he was at it, one car rushed into the spot being cleared and blocked the flow of traffic. My colleague noticed that it was an embassy vehicle. He requested the gentleman in the car to back out and clear the space. In the ensuing argument, the guy in the car stated that “This is India” implying that in India this is the way to drive if you intend to reach your destination in time. Delhi and NCR has several expatriates who have realized that disciplined driving does not work on Indian roads. It is a sad to find aggressive driving habits replacing defensive, safe driving habits, out of sheer frustration.

India shall host Commonwealth games in 2010, welcoming a multitude of people from various nations into our country. As our guests step out of the airport, the chaos, impatience and belligerence of our roads would be among the first things that greet them. Apart from the pathetic performance we routinely showcase at sports, the environment that we would have created for the games would be miasmic. We cannot blame the confusion of our roads on population density. It has very much to do with our outlook. We have scant respect for public property and our civic pride is nil. Unless we change our attitude and learn to respect each other on roads, at home, in public and in private, our dreams of growing into a global superpower shall remain a pipe-dream, at best.

Categories: Musings
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