Anyone who has travelled long distance by a bus or taxi in India has to trust God, and Him alone, for his safety. To be sure, some of our leaders and talented professionals have simply been failed by the Gods, and they have been killed (Rajesh Pilot) on our highways (the deadliest in the world), or maimed (a la Ajit Jogi).
On Saturday night, it was the turn of A. Jayamohan, a former Congress MP from Tirupattur. A moronic driver at the wheel of a private bus going to Bangalore drove the vehicle into the side of a truck carrying a possibly illegal cargo of some sort of rock, and killed the former MP, aged 62, instantly. The cleaner of the bus also died, but such inconsequential lives are not usually taken note of because there are so many of them here.
Jayamohan joins the list of several people who are victims of a system that they thought would never affect them (they were ‘too big to be hit’). Will his family realise that road safety cannot be left to the Gods alone, and even our cat-like politicians are made of the same mortal sinews? If our experience so far is any indication, they would rationalise the death as something that was bound to happen. That’s the philosophy that keeps moronic drivers on the road, and makes death and injury a permanent spectacle all over India.
While on this subject, the Chennai edition of the Times of India has interesting twin-photo coverage today of a road accident somewhere on GST Road. It highlights two problems – one is wrong way driving by two-wheelers, which caused an accident injuring a two-wheeler rider, and the lack of gaps in median dividers. The second issue becomes important, because the police had to stop traffic on the highway, and an ambulance crew literally transferred the injured man over the concrete median to the other side on a stretcher. Ambulance crews in India have no idea of orthopaedic and nerve injury, so many cases of paralysis due to improper handling of trauma victims is to be expected. But that is yet another issue.
All this is unlikely to convince our rulers — and their VIP-focused police — to stop wrong way driving, which is rampant in Chennai these days. For the World Health Organisation, it will be increasingly difficult to come up with the appropriate advocacy for two-wheeler riders who are treated as Vulnerable Road Users — when their behaviour is so scandalously contemptuous of the most basic rules.
So its back to God to do his bit.