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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blackmoney: Supreme Court rejects Centre's plea


The Supreme Court on Wednesday (March 25) rejected Centre's plea to recall its order for setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe all cases of black money, saying it stepped in as for over six decades "the government failed to bring back the money stashed in foreign banks to the country". "Let us see the SIT will do things which this country is dreaming of," a three-judge bench headed by Justice H L Dattu observed while dismissing the Centre's plea and pulling it up for its reluctance to accept the SIT headed by two retired judges of the apex court.

The apex court said its two-judge bench in its July 4 2011 order for setting up of SIT felt that "no effort was made to bring back the money stashed in foreign banks" which could have been accounted and pumped into the "mainstream of the Indian economy". "It was the feeling of this court that no effort was made to bring back the money stashed in foreign banks and no effort was made to disclose the names of those whose money were in the foreign banks. 

"If the money would have been brought back the economy of the country would have gone up. Per capita income would have gone up. Income tax rate which we are paying at 30 per cent would have been reduced," the bench, also comprising justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur, observed. The bench brushed aside the contention of Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran that "the mechanism was already in place" for dealing with issue of black money and expressed its anguish that the Centre was "literally" running away from the SIT-monitored probe.

"Since 1947, nobody thought for 65 years to bring these money stashed in foreign banks to the country. Government has failed in its role for 65 years. We are not impressed by your statement, if you had undertaken the exercise there was no need for continuous mandamus and we would have not stepped in," the bench said. "This court in the economic interest of the country thinks that black money lying in different countries should be brought back and the court feels that you have failed in your duty in doing so and so it gave an order for the appointment of the committee headed by former judges of this court," the bench said. 

The apex court was also furious that the Centre failed to comply with its July 4, 2011 order for the last three years which otherwise would have benefited the nation. "You have not done the exercise pursuant to the order of July 4, 2011. Three years have passed but you have not done anything for the implementation of the order," the bench said and disagreed with the submission of the Solicitor General that the probe against Pune stud owner Hassan Ali Khan and businessman Kashinath Taporiah was in compliance of the apex court order. 


The order was passed on the PIL filed in 2009 by noted jurist Ram Jethmalani and others who had claimed that Rs 70 lakh crores of black money was stashed abroad in foreign tax havens. Justifying the order for setting up of SIT, the bench said the apex court can "ignore" the government organisation "if it loses faith in it". "At the end of the day this court wants that the black money stashed in foreign bank is accounted for and this court took up the cudgel and said the area in which you failed let it be achieved by us." 

It also made it clear that if the SIT will feel that it cannot negotiate with the sovereign government it can come to the court and express its stand that it cannot negotiate with foreign banks or sovereign country. "We would be the last person to say that we have failed. We would try our best to achieve our purpose," the bench observed while holding that "there was no merit in the application (of Centre)".

The apex court by its July 4, 2011 order had converted the High Level Committee (HLC) formed by the government to monitor all issues relating to black money into an SIT by appointing former apex court judge B P Jeevan Reddy as its head. Another former apex court judge M B Shah was appointed as the Vice Chairman of the 13-member SIT into which Director of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was inducted. It included directors of CBI, Intelligence Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Chairman of CBDT, Director General of Revenue Intelligence, Director General of Narcotics Control, Director of Foreign Intelligence Office (FIO) and Joint Secretary of Foreign Trade.

The erstwhile HLC was headed by the Revenue Secretary. The apex court had said that the SIT shall be carrying investigation, criminal proceedings and prosecution relating to the stashing of the blackmoney in foreign banks and also cases arising from the unaccounted money involving Pune-based stud owner Hassan Ali Khan and Kolkata businessman Kashinath Taporiah. While setting up the SIT, the apex court had pulled up the government for the "laggardly pace" in investigations into the issue of black money stashed abroad.
http://www.timesnow.tv/Blackmoney-Supreme-Court-rejects-Centres-plea-/articleshow/4450853.cms

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Narendra Modi - PM in Making.

We Desperately need someone like Him. 

So Narendra Modi has finally gate-crashed New Delhi. The state-level political leader from a medium-sized Indian state has arrived in Delhi seeking the prime minister’s chair, no less.

While the country will take its time to make up its mind, Modi has shown that he is a man in a hurry and will not leave any stone unturned to achieve his dream.

So who really is Narendra Modi? Do we really know him? What are his personal habits, for one?

Sheela Bhatt compiles a list of things, both unknown and known, about the latest challenger to the New Delhi throne. These highlights from Modi's life should be read along with our two-part series:- How Modi poses a threat as well as opportunity for Cong Polarisation or development? Narendra Modi & big dilemma.

1. Vadnagar, an ancient city that’s almost 2,500 years old, is Narendra Damordas Mulchand Modi’s birthplace. Indians strongly identify themselves with their janambhoomi, and Modi is no different. He likes the Hatkeswar Mahadeo temple, built in the 15th century, in his village. His birthplace is unique in that it saw both Hinduism and Buddhism flourish. It is also a highly cultured town that is famous for singer-duo Tana and Riri who stumped none other than the legendary Tansen in the Mughal king Akbar’s durbar. Vadnagar was once the capital of Gujarat and has a proud place in history also because the Chinese scholar Hsüan-tsang visited it during his 17-year journey through India in the seventh century and has narrated Vadnagar in detail in his fascinating memoirs.

2. Modi was born on September 17, 1950. He makes it a point to take the blessings of his mother Heeraben on his birthday. He bonds reasonably well with his four brothers and sister but doesn’t display it in public. His wife's name is Jashoda, and the couple separated soon after marriage.

3. The most striking personal habit of Modi is to wear well-ironed and wrinkle-free clothes, a habit he retains from his teenage years when he would fill hot water in a brass lota and iron his shirt using the vessel’s heated bottom. He continues to lay stress on dressing well and, judging by his public appearances over the last couple of years, he owns hundreds of kurtas, all of them tailored by his favourite darzi in a posh shop on Ahmedabad’s CG Road. Everyone knows that he is crazy about wrist watches and sandals.

4. Modi is a cleanliness maniac. He keeps his desk, his home and general surroundings spic and span. There is no doubt that he is very comfort-oriented in the matter of designing his home and personal desk. He loves his chartered flights, too -- one of the privileges of being a chief minister.

5. He can be dubbed one of the best copywriters in contemporary India. No Indian advertising agency is likely to match his ability to paraphrase ideas, launch new brands, re-launch people and events, write-rewrite copies to sell ideas or products as he does.

6. In closed-door meetings, he likes multi-media presentations. He has a flair for technology, and has a child-like enthusiasm for it. In meetings, he has displayed that he has a fine sense of humour - though it can sometimes be unwittingly hurtful.

7. He is extremely prudent in money matters, and would like to pay the least and get the most while finalising contracts of various ministries. He can be called economical if not a miser. Yes, he is very economical with his own money as well.

8. These days, his weight veers around 84 kg. He gets back-pain at times, with the upper part of the spinal region being the problem area. When he stands for a long time, his feet get swollen. But, no, he doesn’t have any serious health problems.

9. He has spent enough time in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. So his language, nuances of behaviour and expressions can never be westernised. He definitely likes western watches, accessories and homely comforts, but that's all. He is quite conservative, even old-fashioned, on issues relating to women and family, though he will never say so in public. His knowledge of English is reasonably okay, but he is not comfortable speaking it. He has done his masters in political science, but as an RSS pracharak he learnt all about India, Hinduism and family life when he was staying with RSS followers’ families.

10. Those who believe in astrology may like to know that Modi’s moon sign is Scorpio, and sun sign is Virgo. His star 
constellation is Anuradha. He was born at 11 am on September 17, 1950. An astrologer who saw his kundli says his rahu antardasha, considered good for those in politics, “is on till September 2014”. Ahmedabad’s best astrologer claims, “Modi’s planetary strength lies in Tula, no mangal in chalit, and Rahu in sixth house.

Those in the know say that Lokmanya Tilak and Otto von Bismark had similar kundlis. According to current astrological transit, Saturn and Rahu in Tula and Jupiter’s position in his kundli are helping his rise. One perforce thinks of destiny and X factor while talking about Modi because even as his government is facing serious allegations of fake encounters, his star is on the ascendence. The man's rise is impressive when one considers that for almost three decades he lived with little money. When in his 20s, he arranged and acted in a play in Vadnagar to collect funds to build his school’s boundary wall. He has even served tea in his maternal uncle’s canteen at the bus stand in Ahmedabad while studying in college.

11. He fasts all nine days during Navratra every year – eating only one fruit a day during this time. He eschews the Navratra-special thali-meal, which is traditionally allowed once a day. He fasts out of devotion for Goddess Ambaji, and has changed the landscape of her shrine on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. Out of reverence to Ma Amba, he has built a   Rs 70 crore-plus Shaktipeeth parikrama on the Gabbar hillock, considered highly sacred by devotees. This will be inaugurated soon.

12. He logs on to the internet every morning without fail and checks all that is written about him. Even if he is travelling, he gets newspapers and cuttings of what his critics are saying about him.

13. He is a decision-maker. He will not send any decision to a Group of Ministers.

14. Modi has no ‘best friend’. He is a loner.

15. Modi is married, but never lived with his wife. Since long, he has been trusting Anandiben Patel, a minister and among his likely successors if he shifts to Delhi. However, he guards his privacy zealously.

16. Modi is a workaholic. After going online at 7 am or even earlier, he would call his party men from all over Gujarat; now, he calls people from all over India. He attends office early in the morning, and works till 10 pm if need be. He is a leader who is not going to ease his grip on party politics even if he were to head a ministry or be ensconced in the PMO if a National Democratic Alliance government comes to power.

17. Oh yes, he is in love with the mirror. He poses like a model. He is very conscious of pictures that are sent out from his publicity office. A few years back he used to like dark colours but now he experiments. He keeps a comb handy in his pocket all the time. He keeps half a dozen colourful ‘khes’ angvastras ready in the back seat of his car, and chooses one according to the crowd he is addressing.

18. He sleeps for only five hours -- sometimes even less. Whatever time he hits the bed, he gets up at 5 or 5.30 am.

19. He has written poems of low literary value.

20. His icon is Swami Vivekanand. He admires Indira Gandhi.

21. Modi was incommunicado when he was 17 and 18. He left his family and went to Rajkot’s Ramakrishna mission and to the Belur Mutt in Karnataka and then to the Himalayas. He wanted to do something but did not know what. So he travelled and wandered around India.

22. His favourite food is bhakhri (crispy rotis) and khichdi made in Gujarati style. Modi knows to cook, too.

23.He has met innumerable sadhus. He taught Gujarati to Sadhvi Ritambhara when he was a full-time worker in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The sadhvi’s guru Swami Parmanand was fond of Modi’s ‘spiritual quest’.

24. Unlike his image, Modi meets local Gujarati Muslims frequently. But the easy access given to them is among Gandhinagar’s well-kept secrets.

25. He is a hard task-master and treats government officers as tools to achieve his political goals.

26. There is no doubt that he played communal politics in the last three Gujarat elections. But his close associates say, in a weak defence, that his negative side is not dominated by his penchant for identity politics. He is like most national leaders -- from Indira Gandhi to Nitish Kumar -- opportunistic, which drives him to play identity politics for the sake of power.

27. He has won so far because he knows the usefulness and uselessness of everyone around him. Two, he recognises time and its value. He strikes when it’s his time and bends otherwise.

28. No one should have any doubt that if at all he fulfills his dream of becoming prime minister, he will turn New Delhi topsy-turvy. He will make bureaucrats work and will be a dictator who will ensure the implementation of his decisions. His Jyotigram Yojna to provide power to all Gujarati households 24x7 was almost impossible to implement, with the toughest resistance coming from users of electricity. But Modi put his foot down, plugged leakages, stopped theft, and forced farmers to pay pending bills running into crores of rupees. It was a very China-like implementation that he managed through Saurabh Patel, the state energy minister. Modi's entire image is built on and around this achievement after the 2002 riots. Those who are not his fans may hear him out in the coming days because he has provided power to all homes in Gujarat.

29. Whatever critics may say, Modi has learnt his lesson after the 2002 riots. The secular activists, media and judiciary struggled to get Modi’s government to follow the rule of law. That has made a difference, and is a huge achievement for Teesta Setalvad and other activists. The Modi camp says he is unlikely to repeat the mistakes of 2002. However, those who hate him will continue to hate him. Modi evokes extreme emotions in his fans, and more so in his opponents.

30. Even though the prime minister’s chair is far, far away, in case Modi becomes PM he will not continue the “official minority policies” the way it’s now run from New Delhi. He will leave his imprint on the way the central government handles the nation’s minorities. This fear will ensure that Muslim voters will go the whole hog to vote against Modi. The fear is understandable. L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj are also arguing on the same lines. It’s precisely for this reason that from now on, Modi will be heard attentively when he speaks on cultural, social, communal and constitutional issues.

Modi has an original way of political manoeuvring. Just wait and watch.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fallen jawan’s wife turns lieutenant

It is a very creditable feat indeed and full credit to the Commanding Officer, 14 Rajput Regiment,  Colonel Arun Agarwal as well, for motivating and inspiring the lady to take such a bold and courageous step/decision. India certainly needs such soldiers/citizens and not black sheep, the Indian bureaucracy has, who has no other aim except to harass the brave Indian soldiers to the maximum extent it can, at every possible step. 

Priya Semwal who was commissioned as an officer into the Corps of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) of the Army, with her daughter Khwahish, after the ceremonial passing out parade at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. Photo: M. Prabhu

Priya Semwal is one of the 62 women who were commissioned into the Indian Army as short service officers at the ceremonial passing out parade at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.

Scripting history, 26-year-old Priya Semwal, who lost her husband in a counter-insurgency operation two years back, was on Saturday inducted into the technical wing of the Armed Force as a young officer.

From a college-going woman married to an Army jawan in 2006 to an officer commissioned into the Corps of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) of the Army today, Ms. Semwal’s life has come a full circle.

Ms. Semwal is one of the 62 women, besides the 194 men, who were commissioned into the Indian Army as short service officers at the ceremonial passing out parade at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.

The mother of the then four-year-old Khwahish Sharma, Ms. Semwal’s future looked bleak when she heard the death of her husband Naik Amit Sharma serving with the 14 Rajput regiment in a counter-insurgency operation near hilly Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in 2012.

“Her husband was serving in my unit. In that operation, he lost his life while others suffered injuries. When I learnt Amit had encouraged her to complete degree and then PG, I thought she should become an officer,” said Colonel Arun Agarwal, Commanding Officer, 14 Rajput Regiment.

Mr. Agarwal’s word of advice, however, was not received readily. “Her brother initially asked what was I saying. She had just lost her husband and they wondered how I could have asked them then. But, eventually they all agreed,” said the Colonel, who came all the way from the border to witness Ms. Semwal become an officer.

“She (Priya Semwal) was qualified and I felt that she will do it. Initially, she had some apprehensions but once she was convinced, there was no turning back. Probably, this is the first time an Army jawan’s wife has become an officer in India,” the Colonel said.

There might be instances where wives of Army officers would have joined the force after their death, but this is probably the first time, the wife of a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) has become an officer, he pointed out.
While Khwahish was clinging to her mother, whom everyone was taking photographs with and talking to, Ms. Semwal recalled how the Colonel’s advice motivated her. “Initially, I did not know what to do. I had a daughter studying... Later, I realised it would be only right to follow my husband into the forces,” said Ms. Semwal, smartly dressed in the Army uniform.

While Priya Semwal was only a first-year undergraduate student when she got married in 2006, she had completed post graduation in Mathematics and a Bachelor’s degree in teaching and employed in a coaching institute at her native Dehradun, when her husband was killed.

She would also earn a B Tech degree while being in Corps of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME). Standing at a distance, the officer’s mother Vaishaka Semwal, was short of words, seeing her daughter become a symbol of hope and inspiration to many.

“Though there was hesitation initially, she wanted to face it and become an officer and we supported her. We are very proud of it now,” the officer’s brother Pravesh Semwal said.

A student at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School at Dehradun, Khwahish, however, does not want to part with her mother, saying she missed her for many months during training. “I want her to join the Army too. She is very small now,” Ms. Semwal said, caressing her daughter’s head.

But, when asked whether she would remain with her grandmother, as her mother proceeded to Leh in Kashmir this April where she has been posted, little Khwahish dressed in a red frock said, “Nahi (No)” and clung to her mother again.

Another News item on Priya Semwal by courtesy of Free Press http://freepressjournal.in/slain-jawans-wife-becomes-lieutenant-in-army/ 

Slain Jawan’s wife becomes Lieutenant in Army

Chennai :  Barely two years after an Army jawan Amit Sharma was killed in an ambush in Arunachal Pradesh, his young widow, Priya Semwal, aged 26, became a source of inspiration for many on Saturday when she passed out of the Officers Training Academic in Chennai and was commissioned into the Indian Army as a Lieutenant.
It was quite a spectacle to see Priya Semwal inducted into the Army as a short service officer even as her six-year-old daughter Khwaish Sharma watched with glee and pride as cameramen focused their lens on them to record a story of courage and determination worthy of emulation.

Priya was in first year college when she married Amit Sharma, a Naik with the 14-Rajput regiment, in 2006. However just six years later, Amit was killed while taking part in a counter-insurgency operation in Tawang in  Arunachal Pradesh.
However, encouraging words from Amit’s commanding officer Colonel Arun Agarwal to face life with confidence changed her life. The Colonel, who learned that his slain soldier had motivated Priya to complete her degree and then pursue post-graduation, he thought “she should become an officer.” And she did on when along with 61 women and 194 men she passed out of the OTA on Saturday as Colonel Arun watched with a sense of satisfaction.
It was not an easy decision for Priya as her family members were not sure if she should join the Army. They were shocked. “But eventually they all agreed,” said Colonel Arun adding, that “she too had apprehensions but once she took the decision she did not want to look back.”
According to him, probably this was the first time an Army jawan’s wife has become an officer in the country. “There could be case of wives of Army officers who had joined the force after their husband’s death but this is probably the first time, the wife of a Non-Commissioned Officer has become an officer,” Priya’s mentor said.

Recalling her tough journey to success, Priya said, she was not sure how to proceed with life after her husband’s death.But Colonel Arun kept encouraging her. “I had a daughter in school when my husband died. But Colonel Arun kept on motivating me before I realised that it would be only right for me to follow my husband into the Armed forces,” she said as her daughter hugged her. It was after her marriage that Priya had completed under-graduation and pursued a post-graduate course in MSc Mathematics besides obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in teaching. “I was employed at a coaching institute in Dehradun, my hometown, when Amit was killed,” she said. In her new role as Lieutenant, Priya would serve in the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) Regimen where she will also earn a BTech degree. And her brother, Pravesh Semwal, who was initially doubtful if she would make it, humbly admitted, “Initially we were hesitant to let her take the plunge but later we backed her. Today, we are very proud.” Among those who watched the ‘historic’ commissioning of a widow as an officer, was Priya’s mother Vaishaka Semwal, who will take care of little Khwaish, while the Lieutenant proceeds to Leh in Kashmir next month to take charge of her first posting.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Traffic Management in Indore : A big Challenge

By Col LK Anand Retd

Foreword

The aspect of traffic management in Indore has been a burning topic and issue since long and any amount of efforts, put in by various experts and authorities on the subject usually have been half hearted, peace-meal or as drives (Abhiyans) for the sake of publicity, and have so far failed to bring any tangible results. The whole gamut of traffic control in the city has made, the city police and the administrative set up, look totally indifferent, casual, incapable and helpless to solve the traffic woes of the city and to find any worthwhile solution. The aspect thus requires serious consideration by one and all including authorities at all levels, for evolving the most efficient and permanent solution. The topic has been given a serious thought and has been discussed in the succeeding paragraphs for consideration.

Most good suggestions are often not considered or abandoned, more due to poverty of our thought process and stingy approach rather than due to financial poverty or considerations. So, let an effective solution to this serious problem be evolved for determined implementation and not be rejected just for financial considerations, as it would do a world of good to over 30 lakh population of Indore. It is also hoped that the knowledgeable population of Indore, would also extend its full co-operation and strive in ensuring that Indore eventually possesses the most well managed and smooth traffic system in India.

The discussion has been divided in three parts. So please keep a tag, so that you do not miss any part and be a part of the whole discussion. Your valuable suggestions for improvement would be most welcome. 

Traffic management in Indore : A Big Challenge

No thought or plan will ever succeed or provide any value or benefit 
to society, if not put into practice or implemented
Introduction

I have had the opportunity of experiencing Indore traffic for over twenty years now and I can safely say that if not the most unmanaged traffic in India, it would be one of the most mismanaged and unruly amongst the top Indian cities. Indore is being tipped to be heading towards the status of a metro. Some illustrious son of Indore remarked a few years back that within ten years Indore would be no less than Singapore. It is wondered whether dream of this person and many hopeful aspirants would ever be fulfilled, especially from the point of view of traffic system.

Pitiably, in spite of all the efforts and suggestions of experts like Shri Jagat Narayan Joshi, talked of as an authority in traffic management in Indore, many lectures/discussions on traffic problems and their possible solutions arranged by Abhyas Mandal of Indore, known for arranging lectures and talks on hundreds of national and local issues with authorities like, Indore Commissioner in attendance, as also many a drives conducted by Indore Police, at times under the direct control of several  past Inspectors General (IG), Dy Inspectors General (DIG) and Superintendents of Police (SP) have brought really zero results. The traffic system has actually gone from bad to worse and there appears to be no sign of improvement.

It ultimately boils down to an inference that none of the people in authority including our worthy representatives possess the determination and capability to set right the highly disorganised traffic system in Indore. It obviously presents a shabby picture of tardy management and capabilities of the highly reputed and heavily paid IAS and IPS cadres of India, who seem to be more embroiled with works and issues or personal agenda around their office tables. Under the circumstances could any solution be in sight in the prevailing scenario or in the very near future. To hope that just by lectures and discussions, un-thoughtful planning, with infrequent half hearted and piece meal efforts on ground to implement a haphazard traffic system, would ever cure the chronically sick traffic of Indore. Perhaps no serious brain storming has been done towards this end, to evolve an effective solution, as a result of which, the traffic system continues to suffer and deteriorate further and further with more and more vehicles being added on the roads.

Studying and analysing the problem

It needs no emphasis that nothing would be possible without a thorough study and analysis to identify the problems prevailing in the system. There are three main elements in traffic, the living beings, the vehicles and the roads. The living beings and the vehicles move on the roads and the task is to manage their movement on the roads. How simple it appears to any one for just managing three items. Frankly speaking the major problem is to handle the living beings. If the living beings, mainly human beings can be handled and guided or even forced to follow rules religiously, half the problem would have been solved.

All human beings in various age groups possess personal wisdom, a value system to have a respect for the law of the land as also other human beings moving alongside on the road combined with personal ego which compels them to stand up against anything which does not seem compatible with their own likings, interests and lopsided wisdom. Very often they instead of becoming good citizens for the society become adversaries of the system. Our monitoring system has to act against such adversaries in a deserving manner. Fear or favour has no place for such defaulters.

The management of innumerable types of vehicles on our roads and the roads themselves pose tremendous challenge and require substantial improvements in many ways which can only be possible with determined efforts of the local administration with support from the state government which could help in streamlining the traffic system.

Some of the salient points which need to be handled smoothly, efficiently or even with ruthless determination, involving strong assertiveness, imposing fines or even use of force at times against chronic and deliberate defaulters need to be discussed and analysed. There is thus a need for us to study and examine threadbare various elements involved in traffic management, which would assist us in evolving a suitable system and to find effective solutions to the prevailing problems.

Handling the living beings

The human beings moving on the roads in any class of vehicle have to be trained and made or even forced to realise that all roads are to be shared in a judicious, fair and impartial manner by one and all and ones liberty to move on the road under no circumstance should infringe upon the other persons’ right to use the road. There is a need to make them aware of main features of the latest Motor Vehicles act explaining their duties, rights, violations and penalties including fines, conditions for confiscation/cancellation of driving licenses, or even imprisonments under grave violations. Every person who moves on the roads has to abide by the regulations and must be in possession of a valid license. This is especially so for the people driving unregistered and improvised vehicles coming especially from rural areas including tractors, trolleys and other such innovations moving on the roads and visiting city at odd hours and times. Such an illegal trend must be strictly dealt with.

Some of the major violations which need to be urgently addressed are:-

(a) Jumping the red light, especially in the absence of traffic policeman
(b) Crossing the stop line and crowding/infringing the Zebra crossings
(c) Crowding at stop lights by scrambling from all directions especially by two wheelers.(d) Travelling in wrong lanes and changing them at the traffic lights creating avoidable      confusion
(e) Not sticking to their own lanes and changing them haphazardly at own convenience not bothering about fellow travellers
(f) Not waiting for their turn and speeding haphazardly out of turn after red light becomes green.
(g) Driving opposite to flow of traffic on double lane roads
(h) Parking and stopping at unauthorised locations
(j) Two wheeler drivers/pillion riders travelling without helmets
(k) Two wheeler drivers carrying many more than authorised two passengers
(l) Cars still having black film in violation of Supreme court’s directions
(m) Number plates still having unauthorised colours or numbering patterns
(n) Overloading and carriage of unauthorised goods by public transport
(o) Charging unauthorised fare from passengers by public transport
(p) Taking out processions and marches without authority
(q) Erecting stages/rostrums on roadside without authority
(r) and many more created on whims and fancies of people

There is also a serious problem of animals like cows, buffalos, pigs, stray dogs, goats etc moving or squatting on the roads. These stray animals create avoidable hindrance to the smooth passage of normal traffic. Many half hearted efforts by the administration have not solved the problem. It is felt that dealing with such problems is an ongoing requirement and should not be discontinued. The operation has to be seriously and deliberately planned and executed by the local administration in close co-operation with traffic and other police. Procedures for handling of each type of animals must be properly laid down and strictly followed. There has to be sufficient manpower for apprehending the animals, vehicles to lift them, and adequate place to keep them outside city limits. They must be handed back after recovering maximum fines/penalties or disposing them off at frequent intervals through auctions or suitable means. Punitive action against defaulting owners must be taken to discourage them. The legal aspects in such cases must be given due regards.

Deployment and conduct of Traffic Police

The traffic police is the main instrument responsible for enforcing the traffic rules outlined in the Motor Vehicles Act as well as to ensure safe, smooth, hassle free and efficient traffic management. So, their proper conduct and performance in all related spheres needs to be specifically ensured. The traffic police should be totally bifurcated/separated from rest of the police force and be free from any involvement with VIP security or any other policing duties which would unnecessarily deplete its manpower. The traffic police of a district must be headed by at least a DIG rank officer, supported by sufficient SP rank officers, Dy SPs and other supervising police officers, proportionate to the strength of the work force deployed on various duties on the roads. Under no circumstances should there be any interference in their functioning from any other quarters.

Indore is a large city and has a large road network with well over fifty major road crossings which are required to be regularly manned for at least twelve hours continuously. In addition there is a need to have traffic police patrolling on all roads to detect and act upon major traffic violations. If we have to have a smooth and efficient running traffic system there is a need to have at least 8 or more police men per shift for two shifts of 6 to 8 hours per major square/road crossing and at least four police men per shift of 6 to 8 hours per minor square/crossing. In addition quite a few numbers of traffic patrols of two police men on motorcycles to patrol 20-25 Km length of city roads to check traffic violations and also control traffic, if required at various places along the roads. This should also be done in two shifts of 6 to 8 hours to watch the roads at all odd hours depending on requirements. Patrolling should be further supplemented by mounting/erecting video cameras at important crossings and locations to monitor traffic violations and initiate prompt punitive action against the violators/defaulters.

It is also necessary to have a jeep type vehicle with two to three policemen at each of the major square/crossing and a motor cycle with two policemen at each minor square/crossing to cater to untoward situations which have become quite common and frequent these days. For patrols there should be 25% jeeps and 75% motorcycles. It would also be desirable that traffic policemen are tall well built, smart in bearing, very well turned out throughout their duty hours and should preferably be adequately armed to induce some fear in the minds of traffic violators. All these traffic policemen should be sufficiently empowered to be able to handle and deal with violators in an effective manner. They under no circumstances should get influenced by any calls from any VIPs/politicians etc, who if necessary may also be booked for interference in performance of official duties.

To further strengthen the traffic police’s hands a few mobile courts with adequate powers may readily be available to deal with the offenders/violators on the spot and induce sufficient fear in the minds of other fellow travellers. This, if done seriously in letter and in spirit should be able to inculcate desired traffic sense, awareness as well as will to follow the traffic rules more seriously and sincerely amidst road users.

It may be foolhardy to expect drastic improvements in Indore’s traffic system without its traffic police playing a prominent role towards effective planning and strict implementation of the system planned for regulating traffic.  All those who have been watching the functioning of the traffic police department are not at all inspired by the sloppy ways the traffic police conducts itself and its operations. Unless drastic actions for transforming and strengthening the functioning and performance of traffic police department is undertaken on priority, Indore’s traffic may continue to be in doldrums.

Indore population has been observing that at present hardly any traffic police personnel are immaculately turned out, are smart and up right in appearance, bearing and their movements, are adequately aware of proper personal drills as well as of various traffic control signals, possess interest and desire to perform their duties in efficient, effective, assertive and exemplary manner. Such shabbily dressed, slouchy and undisciplined traffic police force instead of inspiring the public to follow their commands, encourages them to disobey them to almost deliberately violate traffic rules.

It is strongly felt that out of 8+ police men at a crossing, two should be earmarked for traffic signals in turn for a specified duration. They must be well and strongly built, be smartly dressed up and have smart headgears like turbans or stylish helmets, should stand out prominently from the rest and be an example to others, move in a soldierly manner and show proper and correct signals for traffic control for people to follow. All the others should be in groups of at least two on all roads of the crossing, adequately armed and with communication sets. Their role should be to detect and apprehend the traffic violators and act against them in accordance with law. They have to be firm and fair in their dealings and not compromise with the expected standards. Such arrangements would perhaps automatically help in improving the traffic.

Some chronic problems related with roads

The present system of roads available in Indore may not be conducive to efficient traffic planning and its enforcement in its present form. It needs to undergo a major transformation. There are innumerable encroachments on the roads in various forms, which do not seem to be having any worthwhile solution due to political patronage available to certain classes of encroachers. Most shopkeepers in nearly all market places habitually display and park their goods well outside their shops’ limits and thus seriously hamper traffic movements all along. Added to that are a number of hand carts, trying to sell their goods in front of the shops, or any available vacant space, thus occupying a major portion of the road. Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) has invariably appeared helpless in finding tangible solution to the problem, mainly due to lack of will power and interference by politicians/leaders or extra constitutional authorities.

Some encroachments are due to failure of IMC to have performed their supervisory duties judiciously, efficiently and dedicatedly over the years, thus allowing builders to continuously subvert the building permissions and to get involved in illegal constructions as well as illegal sale of parking places under hundreds of multi storeyed buildings, and compel vehicle owners to park their vehicles on the roadsides or foot paths. Many half hearted efforts by various collectors to tackle this irregularity have borne no fruits whatsoever and the city traffic continues to suffer unabatedly. IMC and Indore Development Authority have so far not been able to construct quite a few of multi-level parking areas planned in the past and their sanctions and funds allotment obviously have gone abegging, and also compounded parking problems all over the city. 

Many private buses and school buses are habitually parked on the roadside in colonies as well as in public places and drastically restrict road movement and traffic in such areas. In addition Indore city has failed to provide for a solution of parking for transit as well as normal heavy vehicular traffic, like trucks and load carriers outside the city limits by creating sufficient parking and administrative facilities on the out skirts of the city, as a result of which they keep themselves loitering and messing around all over the city limits and parking them helter and skelter wherever they can find space, thus mucking the city roads and creating avoidable traffic control problems for the administration. Indore city even lacks sufficient space for parking of local trucks and various classes of load carriers who also are parked all over the city in an unruly manner. Consequently, the city is faced with an acute problem of traffic management on nearly all city roads due to unlimited traffic violations everywhere.

The Bus Rapid Transportation System (BRTS)

The 11.5 Km long BRTS established on the AB Road was done with a very noble intention of speedily and comfortably moving the public in public transportation systems from one point to another for convenience as well as regulating the rest of traffic in a smooth and efficient manner. However, the shoddy and extremely delayed efforts to implement the project have brought no solace to the traffic woes of the city and belied the hopes and aspirations of the large population of the city. Instead it has added to the traffic problems of the citizens travelling by various means, especially the pedestrians, by seriously hampering their free and smooth movement. The pedestrians are often seen jumping over the BRTS railings to cross the roads due to non provision of suitable means to cross the system, which has resulted in avoidable loss of life and serious injuries to public. This has once again proved and highlighted the lackadaisical attitude, gross inefficiency and inability of the bureaucratic, police and political set up of the city as well as of the state of Madhya Pradesh.

A court case for discontinuance of the BRTS is in progress, on the plea that the local authorities have inconvenienced over 1.50 lakh commuters to benefit just about 15000 odd bus travellers. As a consequence, and due to intervention of the High Court, various modifications in the operation and functioning of BRTS are being tried out, without much success. There seems no end to violations on the BRTS, in spite of strict instructions by the court. Ironically the BRTS staff and as inefficient as ever, Indore police stand as mute spectators and are not able to get the High Court instructions implemented in letter and in spirit. It is wondered whether the BRTS would ever be able to function as it had been foreseen at the time of planning. Some initiative on the part of the newly appointed minister for Urban Administration and Development (UAD) for providing some flyovers and foot over bridges on the BRTS route could partially help the commuters, but when? Why it could not be done at planning stage? It is to be seen whether this would eventually solve all BRTS problems. 

Familiarising the population on traffic system

It is essential to educate the population of Indore on various aspects of traffic management. No one can ever construe a solution to this by sending the population to class rooms or by holding lectures and discussions on a limited scale which obviously cannot be an effective method of teaching or familiarising the population with traffic rules or with the Motor Vehicle Act and so on. However, such lessons could be conveyed to the population by placing all vital and essential traffic instructions, salient provisions of Motor Vehicle Act, various types of requests and warnings by the traffic police, on large sized road sign boards, conveniently placed all along the roads at regular intervals.

The sign boards, traffic signals, banners, advises, warnings, penalties and punishments for various types of traffic violations especially those specified in the latest Motor Vehicles Act, must be in a bold and catchy script in the languages (preferably in Hindi and English) which majority can read and understand. To grill the various aspects of traffic management in the minds of one and all, these signs and writings must be repeatedly placed at regular intervals along all the city roads and on hoardings. It should be done in such a manner that no one should be able to get away on the basis of lack of knowledge or ignorance of the major provisions of Motor Vehicles Act. It can be expected that with these write ups along all the roads, the Indore population would be able to get educated sufficiently, on its own and could start following traffic rules gradually, if not immediately. To overcome the requirement of Government spending for the purpose, I am sure, local corporate world or large business men would be more than willing to adopt various city roads for erecting signposts/hoardings at appropriate locations to impart traffic related knowledge to population of Indore. The VIPs who habitually try and bring in influence through personal calls to save the offenders or traffic violators must be discouraged by ignoring their requests or by booking them as well for interference in the performance of official duties.

Controlling and disciplining major violators

It has been observed for years now that the two wheelers are the greatest offenders and violators of traffic systems, firstly because of their extremely large numbers and secondly due to total and deliberate neglect combined with casual and indifferent attitude towards traffic rules and ethics expected to be followed on the road. It is of utmost importance to control, manage and discipline the two wheelers by whatever means possible. If the Indore Police can devise means to rein in the misadventures of two wheelers and effectively succeeds in doing so, a major battle of traffic management would have been won.  

For this it is strongly suggested, that on all wider roads it would be worthwhile creating a 2.00 to 2.50 M (6.50 to 8.25 feet) wide lane preferably on the left hand side of the road, for exclusive use of the two wheelers. All other traffic including encroachments or kiosks or any vendors must be totally prohibited from entering these lanes. Simultaneously, the two wheelers should also be totally prohibited from entering the other lanes. To facilitate their moves at junctions/crossings or to other roads, connecting lanes should also be marked to prevent them from encroaching upon other parts of the road. Specific instructions for the two wheels about their lanes must also be displayed appropriately on road sign boards along the road. Lane marking should eventually be done with permanent devices, so that the two wheelers do not interfere with other traffic in any manner. This trial could be carried out for at least three months under strict monitoring of traffic police.

The three wheelers such as auto rickshaws or tempos are other conspicuous violators and rarely follow traffic rules. Their conduct also has to be strictly supervised and controlled by the traffic police and other statutory authorities so that they could be disciplined and compelled to abide by traffic rules as well as conduct themselves as per regulations.

Vital aspects requiring strict actions

There is yet another important and drastic requirement of clearing all roads of all types of artificial, temporary and permanent encroachments. This has to be done with the help of the administration, police force, with the assistance of judiciary as well as by the use of removal machinery and cranes etc deployed at selected and chronic locations. As already highlighted earlier, acute shortage of parking areas, have further compounded traffic problems of the city. Most commercial areas are invariably crowded with vehicles parked in a highly unruly and disorganised manner. At times even people on foot find it difficult to negotiate these temporarily encroached areas.

A tangible solution to these problems appears to be to create multilevel parking areas at specified intervals by taking over old/dilapidated/unsafe buildings at various locations along the roads and by compensating the occupants suitably and even by providing them alternate locations. The administration must immediately get all parking areas under multi-storeyed buildings fully cleared without any fear or favour. Penalising defaulting builders suitably and severely, must also be considered so that such irregularities and defaults do not recur in future.

It is also very vital to improve the road surface everywhere, which should be conducive to proper marking of traffic lanes, lane changing zones, zebra crossings, stop lines, parking zones, stopping zones and so on prominently, initially by durable and long lasting paint and eventually by permanent devices such as cat’s eye or any similar device. Traffic police has to play a vital role in strictly enforcing proper use of these markings by checking the defaulters and disciplining the public at large. The police personnel must maintain high integrity and strict sense of duty without any fear or favour. They must come down heavily on habitual violators and not favour or spare them. They could even consider confiscating and if required cancel their licenses in accordance with law.

Introducing technology for traffic management

Use of technology in the form of close circuit TV cameras for detecting and effectively punishing traffic violators, would go a long way in improving traffic systems. In many countries all drivers essentially carry credit cards with sufficient credit limits which are further linked to traffic servers. All categories of traffic violations involving these drivers are detected through communication systems and the drivers are penalised by automatically fining them and instantly debiting their credit cards. As soon as the credit limit of their cards finishes they are suspended from driving. It is very difficult to get a driving license in such countries, unlike India where even a proxy system may work in obtaining a license. Under such conditions traffic violations occur very rarely. It may not take very long for this system to be in place in India, as an Indore girl has developed a similar type of traffic surveillance system and has got the same patented.

Conclusion

All the above suggestions such as making additions to traffic police force, installing or displaying large number of traffic related write ups and road sign boards along roadside, carrying out proper improvement of road surfaces and marking of roads for guiding the population would involve good amount of expenditure. For achieving a sound and effective traffic control system these requirements will have to be met and there is no alternative but to provide for full initial and recurring expenditure, if the authorities want the traffic system of Indore to be as efficient and orderly as anyone would like it to be. Nearly all the points which would require urgent attention and looking into by the authorities who matter, have been covered in the preceding text, though it need not be seen as an ultimate, as there can always be newer ideas for inclusion, if they can further transform the sick traffic system which presently prevails.

There is thus an inescapable need for the highest authority in Indore or even the State of Madhya Pradesh to get fully involved, to have an effective and fool proof traffic management plan drawn out, considering all the suggestions discussed above and have them tried out for eventual and final implementation. None of the suggestions such as, road quality and its marking, encroachments, parking, displaying traffic instructions to familiarise population, technology, and last but not the least the enhancement and conduct of the traffic police force etc can be taken lightly and must be considered in totality for including in the detailed traffic management plan. The situation of Indore traffic has deteriorated so much, that no further delay in putting it into actual practice should be permitted.