For our own good

Recently, while I was at Pune for a few days I heard that the cantonment board was making helmets compulsory for everyone driving through the cantonment. Helmets are not a must in Pune. It has become a personal choice and no prizes for guessing what people choose. I think looking at the lackadaisical attitude of the Pune civic authorities the Cantonment Authorities decided to make it compulsory in their domain at least, to put some sense into people’s heads. I don’t know if the cantonment board was successful in its noble endeavour or not, because when I left Pune, the ‘for and against’ debate was going on. While helmet compulsion is a good thing, it looked a little weird that it was to be done only in a certain area in the city. This is because whenever the authorities tried to enforce helmets the general public and the opposition parties protested as though the government is out to kill them by doing this. It used to be the same story in Bengaluru also. One government would make it compulsory while the next, if happened to be from another party, would ‘undo’ it. This went on for long before some sense prevailed and now people have accepted helmets as part and parcel of their lives or else they know the hawk eyed policemen will catch them promptly without delay if seen driving without one. Really, the Bengaluru Police are very strict when it comes to helmets.

In Delhi where we lived for the last three years helmets are an absolute choice of the rider of the vehicle. Whenever they were made compulsory the sikhs protested as it’s problemetic for them to put it on their turbans-understandable point. But the worst thing was when women opposed it and said that it should not be compulsory for them at all. What’s this? Does it mean that women’s lives have no importance or do they have some magical powers that will save them from any kind of mishap? Is it ok to be lying dead on a road than to wear a helmet? It’s difficult to understand as to why should anybody force us to use helmets or seat belts? How does it matter to anybody if one dies on the road owing to his own stupidity? It’s only the immediate family that suffers and nobody else. So if one is against it, the time has come to understand that you have to do so just for your own and your family’s sake and that’s it.

What’s it about the ‘Statutory Warnings’?  What use are they when nobody seems to be caring about them? We see them everywhere–on cigarette packets, gutka  pouches and alcohol bottles. All these have warnings and gruesome pictures printed on them. But the people who use them are least bothered to even look at them. Neither the terrifying pictures nor the ever increasing costs can deter these people who prefer to enjoy their addiction than to worry about health, future and family.The government needs to do more than just issuing warnings.  It did try to ban smoking scenes in films saying that it’ll encourage people to do so. Why can’t they ban tobacco production instead? Give this suggestion and they’ll point out at the revenue its earning and the number of people who’ll go jobless etc. But what about the unlimited diseases it brings along, as gifts to people who use them?

According one of the reports the Howrah bridge, the iconic British era landmark of Kolkatta, is being eaten away by the red spit of thousands of gutka chewers.  Thanks to the highly corrosive spit, some areas of the steel pillars are wearing out by as much as 60% !! If gutka can do this to the strong steel, just imagine what could it do to the insides of a human body? It’s really scary, isn’t it? If public health is the genuine concern of the governing bodies then the solution is to totally ban it and look forward to a healthy country in the future.

And lastly, the drama of banning polythene bags.We have been hearing that these have banned for a long time now . But we still keep getting them at most of the small stores. If u forget to carry your bag and ask the grocer for a carry bag first he’ll say that poly bags are banned and he’ll be fined if he’s seen dishing them out. But he’ll give you because he doesn’t want to lose a customer. Still I think these fellows are better in the sense they accept they are cheating. But what about supermarkets like More, Reliance, West Side or Big Bazaar etc etc? Earlier they used to give away carry bags without we asking for and then, the poly bags got banned. They still continued giving the same bags but started charging for them. There was a time when we never used to forget taking our shopping bags with us. These super markets spoiled our good habits by giving away bags for free and once we got used to going there with no bags they started charging for them. First lure us into it and then make us pay for it. Despite the poly ban hype we see them everywhere- how many microns is the poly bag made of- nobody is interested to know. You can see hundreds of them in and around the garbage bins, the non bio-degradable types.

When a ban of any kind is imposed the government needs to ensure that it is implemented totally. Just making rules and not enforcing them fully is like taking a horse to the water and not being able to make it drink. Its also the duty of all citizens to follow the rules laid down by the government and help in achieving its goals.


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