Numerous confounding issues and problems confront India as a nation state and as a society. Let’s take up some issues and try to reach some solution. We may run into some stonewall –or Thorn In Our Side. You can try to think ahead from there, and offer comments. There’s no point simply blaming the “system” or “government” or any class/category of our society without proposing solutions. Let's think the change we want to see!
The above image from
RUSH LANE says it all, doesn’t it? The traffic chaos we face every day, in
every city town or village in India. Who hasn’t faced lane-cutting, blocking of
zebra crossing, signal jumping, jaywalking, dangerous driving or overtaking,
excessive honking, obstructive parking or countless other traffic woes?
It would seem that we
don’t really understand the concept of lanes, zebra crossings, stop lines or driving
instructions like “no overtaking”, “no horn zone” etc. The first thing one notices
on visiting a developed country is the respect pedestrians get from motorists.
You approach a zebra crossing and vehicles come to a halt to allow you to
cross. Drivers stick to their lanes, hardly anyone honks. So what’s our
problem? Compared to corruption, “khaps”, caste and gender issues, this should
be a small problem to crack.
OK – so, to examine
the problem, let’s compare London with our metros of Mumbai or Delhi.
Could the reason for
our insane traffic be less numbers of traffic policemen? But it appears London’s
Traffic Operational Command Unit (OCU) has about 800 highly trained traffic
policemen for a city with a population of about 8,174,000 and area of about
1500 sq. kms. (2011). Read A quick search threw up figures for
Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune. Read Delhi population was about 11,000,000,
area 1483 sq. kms with about 6200 traffic policemen, Mumbai had population of
12,500,000, area 438 sq. kms with 3300 traffic cops. So London has one traffic
cop per 10217, Delhi 1774, Mumbai 3787. No, number of traffic cops doesn’t seem
to be the problem.
Is it lack of
education of our road users? Literacy rate is about 91% in Mumbai and 86% in
Delhi. Let’s assume London has about 99% literates. Well, the 10-12 %
difference in literacy doesn’t explain the utter inability of our motorists and
pedestrians to read road signs, understand symbols and drive as they are meant
So if our roads have
enough traffic cops and metropolitan population is reasonably literate then where’s
the problem of compliance of traffic rules coming from? Are our cops
under-trained? Susceptible to corruption because they are poorly paid?
In Maharashtra, constables are trained for 12 months
(48 weeks) so they don’t seem to be under-trained – unless the training input
is very poor. In Mumbai, a constable gets a gross salary of about Rs 12000 per
month. Read HT article According to the Economist’s Big Mac Index, a British Pound Sterling = Rs 34.
So, a London constable earns about Rs 64,500 per month (1900x34) at Big Mac PPP
conversion rate. This is substantially more than their Indian counterpart!
A-ha! Here seems to be an obvious answer to our
To bring up the quality, integrity and capabilities of
our traffic enforcement cops, can we raise their salary? Not to 64,000 but let’s
say 3 times – to 36,000? Cost implication in Mumbai will be an additional
Rs 10 crores per month (3787 x 24,000) or about Rs 120 crores (1,200,000,000 or
1.2 billion) a year. Maharashtra has recently submitted an interim budget for
2014-15 with Revenue Deficit of Rs 5417 crores. Can this deficit be increased?
What will be the impact of this pay increase on
equivalent state govt. posts? Say excise, municipal, forest officials, school
teachers, health dept? What about constables outside traffic department? There
are almost 40,000 in the Mumbai Police. Is there enough public fund? So the one
immediate solution is probably not viable.
The next solution is enhance voluntary compliance of traffic
rules. Social media campaign, public ads, making it hip to obey traffic rules.
This would need massive PR and advertising initiative. One powerful medium is
TV. To bring a social change, let’s estimate a 10-second ad every 3 hours a day
on 10 most watched channels for a year. That’s 80 ads a day. At an estimate of
Rs 100,000 per 10 sec ad, that’s Rs 80 lakhs (8,000,000) per day. Rs 28800
lakhs a year or Rs 280 crores just on TV ads.
Oops! This is even more expensive than increasing cops’
How about installing CCTVs at every major crossing –
the Integrated traffic management system? Mumbai has about 1250 major
intersections. A news item about Chennai gives the cost at Rs 117 crores in
2012 for 100 intersections. So let’s cover only 500 in Mumbai. That should cost
about Rs 550 crores. Oops again.
I’ve now run out of ideas. Mostly due to budgetary
constraints. It’s a thorn in my side.