I am a US Qualified Registered Microbiologist-Medical Technologist, operating my own Clinical Lab. I have been an activist advocating consumer, civic, citizen's rights for Thirty plus years & a Frequent contributor to the letters to Editor.

Monday, September 20, 2010

ADCP Praveen Sood View point 20sep2010 eye opener

20 Sep 2010,

The Editor,

Times of India



Additional Director General Traffic Mr Praveen Sood's view point(TOI page 2 , 20Sep2010) should surely be an eyeopener for the "civilized, educated" drivers on the roads of Bangalore.

After watching Bangalore Traffic Police and Drivers on road for over 5 decades, I can definitely see a remarkable, positive, commendable change in the attitude of the Police.

Imagine any of the other enforcement staff courteously and cheerfully sniffing drivers alcohol infused/ bad breaths night in and out without complaints.

However regretfully, the same cannot be said of the drivers, who despite education and exposure to western civilty and culture fail to realize that

using a vehicle on road is not a right but a generous privilege granted by the society. As such should not be misused.

Every enforcement is virtually termed a harassment by the offender in almost all instances. This is because of the "Arrogance of Influence" and Tolerance of interference by political or bureaucratic clout.

It is illustrated by this well known anecdote from USA. A traffic cop stopped the Police commissioner's wife for overspeeding.

She demanded "Dont' you know who I am, I am the Police commissioner's wife, I will tell him that you stopped me" So the policeman

doffed his hat and said "Maam, Thank you, Please do so, that he will know I am doing my duty". He was commended by the commissioner.

We will see enforcement as enforcement when we reach that level of Nirvana.

Thanks to Mr Sood for a timely article. It should be copied and given to every offender, and the officials /politician they call up to

tug the Influence Rope around the enforcing officer's neck.

Sincerely yours

M B Nataraj

MS(Georgetown Univ, Wash DC)

Registered Medical Technologist

American Medical Technologists-USA

Microbiologist/Medical Technologist



It’s traffic enforcement or harassment?

Praveen Sood

Altercations between the public and traffic policemen are not unheard of. But to say that every traffic cop is standing at the junction just to abuse people is stretching it a bit too far. Without denying or justifying the existence of such malaise, it is worth examining the genesis of the problem as to what makes traffic policemen raise their decibel level leading to such conflicts.

There is a very thin line between enforcement and harassment. The difference lies as much in actions of policemen as in the actions and perceptions of citizens. A large chunk of citizens demand stricter enforcement and harsher penalties. There is an equal majority who consider any kind of enforcement to be mere harassment.

When a person is stopped for traffic violation, more than his pocket, it’s his ego that is hurt. No one wants to be told that he has done anything wrong, more so if the reprimand comes from a lowly perceived, less educated, Kannada-speaking constable. Many of us are either unaware of wrongdoings or quickly find justification for the same. Where does the helpless constable produce evidence of signal-jumping on the field? It is one’s word against the others. Yes, technology can play a role but the cost of collection may be many times the meagre amount of fine. Then there is the usual argument as to why me when so many others are also violating. Yes, there are many others but the police officer can handle one at a time which is supposed to be a deterrent for many others.

Even though there has been a fair amount of progress towards evidencebased enforcement through surveillance cameras, laser guns and alcometers, do we accept our fault gracefully? No. We get into academic and philosophical discussion on the roadside. Why speed limit should be 80 kmph? Yes, I consumed alcohol but I am in control. Is your equipment correct and so on and so forth. Arguments go on non-stop.

For every commuter who gets into an argument, it is a now-or-never issue. But for the policeman standing there, it is the case of five out of six persons caught day after day. How does a policeman keep his cool if each one of us wants to indulge in unending debate concerning propriety, correctness and rationale? Many citizens connect their mobiles and expect policeman to talk to someone influential at the other end. Many complain that policeman speak only in Kannada. When one party does not understand Kannada and the other does not understand English, every spoken word appears like an abuse considering their belligerent postures.

Bad elements do exist and action is taken against them whenever reported and found justified. But is it too much to expect from people to be equally civilized when they’re caught for violations? While condemning use of force by traffic cops, can we ignore the fact that in the past one year, one police officer was killed and 28 others sustained fractures because some driver tried to run away or run over them when flagged to stop? Many of these are the result of signal jumping and drunken driving. Many feel that police should not stop but just note down the vehicle number. And do what? Keep visiting their address to collect hundred rupees as fine? Can cops be a silent spectator to such violations and do nothing? If they don’t intervene to stop an over-speeding vehicle, helmetless rider, drunk driver, signal jumper, then they are accused of being indifferent and lazy.

Besides the road rage that is seen during enforcement, many commuters feel that traffic cops are responsible for all their miseries on the road. He, in fact, has little role to play as far as poor infrastructure is concerned — leaking pipes, overflowing drains, potholes, buses going off the road — or if there are rallies, processions and other expressions of liberal democracy. Being the only visible face of the government standing at each junction, they suffer the anger and ire of commuters for no fault.

Bad behaviour should be condemned whether by police or public. People deserve respect from policemen and vice-versa. Disputes and academic debates need to be resolved under one roof rather than at traffic junctions. A major effort to equip policemen with soft skills is on. But without matching efforts from the public, the task will remain half accomplished.

(The writer is additional commissioner

of traffic, police;


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home