Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lets Behave India - Roads

The biggest challenge of urban life in India - the daily commute from home to work and back. Traffic is never smooth. Jams, dug up roads, incessant honking,increasing commute times are a regular feature. Yet quite a bit of this irritant can be reduced by following road discipline. Something which we Indians lack. 

Cutting lanes, jumping traffic signals, not wearing a helmet, driving in the wrong direction for a short-cut, not signalling while changing lanes or turning, stopping bang on the zebra crossing instead of behind it, pedestrians moving about without a care, over-speeding, honking for the sake of it, using mobile phones while driving (I have even observed one gentleman playing poker on his mobile while driving) - Rule breaking has become a part of our habit. And all of us our guilty of it.

Though we get away with breaking these rules most of the time but some are not so lucky. Accidents happen but many are completely avoidable, Only if everyone followed discipline on the road. We may not be able to do much about dug up roads or malfunctioning traffic lights or the sheer number of vehicles on the road, but we can be more strict in following up the rules. After all rules have been made for our convenience only, although many would like to differ. 

Only way to curb these dangerous activities is heavy fines and stricter implementation of rules by the traffic police. Within my office campus, most of the cars and buses actually follow speed limits, park in designated areas only and even stop for pedestrians on the zebra crossing. Chief reason being penalties which are deducted directly from the next month's salary. So monetary fines do have an effect if implemented properly. Another good option would be to take the offenders to the nearest station and show them videos/images of real life accidents which might put in some fear in them.

What we should & should not do?
  • Stop before the zebra crossing. Don't think any time is saved by stopping 2 yards further.
  • Use helmets always. And on your head. Carrying the helmet in your arm while riding is even more dangerous
  • No mobile use - especially no texting or games or photography. All Smartphones have motion detectors. So why don't the likes of Apple and Samsung make sets which hibernate if moving beyond certain speeds. All callers can be notified that the person is driving and is thus unable to take the call. 
  • No weaving through lanes.
  • No honking at signals. I think most drivers in India believe that the vehicle in front is powered not by fuel but by the sound of the horn.
  • Drive within speed limits.

Hope this initiative by Mumbai Mirror and Sanjay Manjrekar (Link1, Link2) has some positive effect. Hopefully our roads will then become a better place. I know there won't be any instantaneous change but we should continuously strive for it.

P.S. An old post on the subject of Road Rush (Link)

Monday, January 12, 2015

MovieNotes: Bhopal A Prayer for Rain

Title: Bhopal A Prayer For Rain
*ing: Martin Sheen, Kal Penn, Rajpal Yadav
Director: Ravi Kumar
Language: English & Hindi
Genre: Historical - Recent

Basic Premise
Movie based on the events around the gas leakage from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal in 1984 which killed thousands of residents. It is considered one of the of the worst industrial accidents in history.

What Works
Acting - Martin Sheen is good as Warren Anderson, while Rajpal Yadav is brilliant in depicting the role of Dilip, a worker in the Union Carbide Plant.

The depiction of Union Carbide plant as both a means of improving the life of the people around as well as in finally ending their life. As with everything else in life, it is not always black or white but somewhere in the grey. For all practical purposes the factory itself is the biggest character of the movie.

Movies depicting history are a rarity in our cinema. And those dealing with tragedies are even rarer. And this is a sincere effort which must be lauded.

What Doesn't Work
The casting of Kal Penn. Wonder why they chose to give the role of an Indian journalist to an American-Indian actor. His accent becomes a total misfit in the whole scheme of things especially in the context of other actors.

Mischa Barton's character is a total waste and the movie would have still had the same impact without her character's presence.

Although made with a lot of emotion, the movie is unable to state the true long term impact of the disaster which the residents are still suffering from almost thirty years down the line. 

Other Notes
Interesting portrayal of the conflicts between Revenue and Safety.  The biggest concern of the factory supervisors is the survival of the plant as it is their source of livelihood and they are willing to cut corners to ensure the same. In short, it is also a decent commentary on the very Indian concept of "Jugaad".  

Finally who was responsible for the disaster? Warren Anderson, the CEO? The owners, who wanted revenue and were willing to close the loss-making unit? The factory in-charge who went against safety norms to increase revenues? The politicians who were complicit in giving approvals? The medical services which were ill-equipped to handle any emergency? Or everyone together?

Rating - 7/10. Some stories need to be told lest they are forgotten.

Previously on MovieNotes - PK

Thursday, January 08, 2015

A Very Responsible Blogpost

The following blog post do not attempt to hurt or offend any person or group of persons on the basis of religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, caste, sect, colour, race, language, income, education, location, sexual orientation, political beliefs, weight, height, physical appearance or any other characteristics.

Any resemblance to any person or persons, living or dead, and events is purely unintentional and entirely co-incidental. 

This is a work of fiction and a figment of my imagination.

Start of Blogpost

End of Blogpost

P.S. If inspite of the precautions taken above, this blogpost has still managed to offend any person or persons inadvertently, kindly accept my humblest and most sincere apologies.