Smoking is suicide by instalment plan. Giving up smoking should be a New Year resolution for 2015 for all smokers
With a few hours to go before 2014 ends, it is time to reflect on that most regularly violated new year resolution and is it possible to stick by it. We are talking of course of tobacco.
Each one of us has a different story as to how we got into it in the first place. But the fact remains that smoking has now become an integral part of our life and one of habits that tags along in whatever we do.
It is also well recognised that the smoker at home is causing "passive" smoking among others at home, including the wife, children and elderly parents.
Every now and then, we do talk against smoking to one and all, particularly our growing children, pleading, cajoling and sometimes threatening them not to smoke. But we ourselves must smoke. When protests become strong enough, we tend to sneak out to the terrace, outside and occasionally take a puff or two inside bathrooms. A little commotion follows and then we carry on with our smoking. Since smoking is usually banned in the office, we manage to find some outdoor chores, so that we can "enjoy" our smoke uninterrupted.
Parents who are smokers tend to closely observe their children's routines. Do they now stand at a distance when they speak to you? Do they visit the bathroom frequently to brush up? Do they show any signs of fatigue, panting and breathlessness when they have to climb up or down the stairs? Or do they cough frequently?
Or, most alarmingly, do you find missing sticks in your cigarette pack, which you left lying here, there or everywhere?
The only way to stop the spread of this habit is to lead by your own example. Although there are so many methods advocated, nothing seems to work.
A visit to the Treatment4addiction website would be revealing and useful. If a person smokes 20 cigarettes a day it would literally wipe off 10 years of your life. In simple terms, it would mean that every cigarette smoked would knock off 14 minutes of your life. Is it worth while taking the step to “enjoy” a smoke, when you know full well that you are slowly committing suicide by instalment? At 14 minutes for every smoke?
Why not making a new beginning in 2015? Save your life and others' by giving up smoking from midnight, tonight!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
The onus of the safety of passengers is on the public transport operator
What is the liability, if any, of the an entity in charge of a public transport service, be it road, rail, water or air? In the context of the rape that occurred in Delhi recently, where the accused was a driver with the taxi service ‘Uber’, the question acquires greater importance. In this latest Delhi case, the taxi service is covered under laws for ‘public carriers’, which assigns the onus for any crime committed on the owners and operators of taxi services. Is there a precedent for something like this? Actually, in context with public services like transport, there is.
In chairman, Railway Board vs Chandrima Das case, a practising advocate of the Calcutta High Court filed a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against the various railway authorities of the Eastern Railway claiming compensation for the victim (Hanufa Khatoon)—a Bangladeshi national—who was raped at the Howrah Station by railway security men. The High Court awarded Rs10 lakh as compensation. The State appealed arguing that:
a) The railway was not liable to pay compensation to the victim because she was a foreigner.
b) That the remedy lies in the domain of private law and not public law, i.e., the victim should have approached the civil court for seeking damages; and should have not come to the High Court under Article 226.
The Supreme Court observed: “Where public functionaries are involved and the matter relates to the violation of fundamental rights or the enforcement of public duties, the remedy would be avoidable under public law. It was more so, when it was not a mere violation of any ordinary right, but the violation of fundamental rights was involved—as the petitioner was a victim of rape, which a violation of fundamental right of every person guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
It is time the authorities and policy-makers take a harder look at the ‘public duties’ of yellow-plate commercial vehicle operators all over the country. Even in the Nirbhaya case, while the focus was rightly on the high incidence of rapes in Delhi, the subsidiary issue of safety in public transport was barely looked at by the authorities. This latest case shows up this very lack in India’s policy-making and enforcement environment.
On the other side of the spectrum are people, who drive cabs or operate them. More than a few I know have a strict ‘no drunks in taxi’ policy, because of the risk of vomiting, fighting or public nuisance. I think that attitude by good fleet operators and drivers will start taking precedence soon.
Low Oil Prices Make It Cheaper To Pollute
Auto major Mahindra is trying its best to enliven the battery-powered vehicles market in India, for personal transport (with their offering called ‘e2o’) and for commercial vehicles in the three- and four-wheeler formats. Commercial success appears to have eluded them in India, for now; but the increased concern by the National Green Tribunal on removing older and more polluting vehicles from city roads may soon include solutions which make it more cost-effective for prospective buyers to go in for battery-operated vehicles.
However, the steep decline in global crude oil prices, may stymie these plans. The effect of oil prices will become clear only if some benefit of lower prices is passed on to consumers in the form of reduced taxation. For now, Mahindra has tweaked the ‘e2o’ to provide more mileage per recharge and better seating, as well as minor modifications in design, based on feedback from customers.
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)