Citizens' Issues
India: 100 percent more traffic deaths than China
An average of 377 people die on Indian roads every day, the world’s highest such fatalities
 
Despite having 99 million fewer people and fewer vehicles, the number of deaths in road accidents in India is more than twice the number of people killed similarly in China, according to a government report.
 
An average of 377 people die on Indian roads every day, the world’s highest such fatalities, according to “Road Accidents in India 2013”, a Ministry of Road Transport and Highways report. The majority of deaths stem from unsafe driving and carelessness – as the Salman Khan case indicates and the data confirms.
 
As the 21st century rolled in — and it became clear that China had outstripped India on most measures — one of the things that India took comfort from was the fact that dangerous as Indian roads were, more Chinese died in traffic accidents then.
 
However, since 2005 — if we believe Chinese statistics —China has reduced deaths in road accidents by almost a third over five years. Over the same period, traffic deaths in India increased 41 percent.
 
On the brighter side, the number of deaths on India’s roads did see a 3.4 percent decline from 2011 to 2013 
 
A deadly price for ignoring basic safety
 
In 2013, Britain reported 73 percent fewer fatalities than just the deaths from alcohol or drug consumption in India that year – this when such substance abuse was responsible for less than five percent of deaths on Indian roads.
 
As many as 6,463 Indians were killed (and 20,081 injured) in road accidents caused by alcohol/drug consumption, compared with 1,713 people killed on Britain’s roads.
 
High-profile cases, such as Salman Khan’s drunken driving, may corner media attention but two out of five road fatalities in India are caused by over-speeding: 56,529 people or 41 percent of all deaths in road accidents.
 
Overloading and overcrowding of vehicles (20.8 percent) and protruding loads (7.1 percent) were the other big killers. The root cause of all these deaths is human error and neglect of basic safety measures and rules, which means most are preventable.
 
Whom to blame? The driver
 
A vast majority of India’s accidents, 78 percent, are the fault of the driver.
 
Other factors combined, such as vehicle defects, pedestrians, cyclists and road conditions, account for less than a quarter of accidents.
 
“Fault of Driver” also accounts for nearly three-fourths of all road deaths. These are deaths caused by human error and a disregard of rules.
 
Easy way out: Focus on five percent of roads
 
India’s road accidents can be pared by concentrating efforts on less than five percent of its roads.
 
India’s national highways accounted for 1.58 percent of the total road length, while state highways accounted for a further 3.38 percent. However, in 2013, accidents on these two sets of roads accounted for more than 60 percent of all road deaths.
 
Better monitoring, enforcement and emergency responses on these roads can reduce many accidents and save lives.
 
Of the road deaths, 37 percent were in urban areas, while rural India accounted for the rest. This is broadly in line with the general population.
 
Main victims: Two-wheeler drivers
 
The largest numbers of accident victims are two-wheeler riders/passengers – they accounted for 39,353 road deaths – more than a quarter of the total fatalities on roads.
 
This is because two wheelers are the most numerous vehicles on Indian roads and a rider or passenger on a two-wheeler is far more exposed than someone inside an automobile or similar vehicle.
 
Many of these deaths/injuries can also be brought down if helmets are made mandatory for two-wheeler riders/passengers. They are mandatory only in a handful of major metros – and usually only for the driver.
 
In some major cities, there are civil movements against helmet-wearing laws. Just as seat-belts have been made mandatory for all cars sold in India, helmets could become compulsory accessory for any two-wheeler sold – and wearing one should be mandatory.
 
As many as 12,536 pedestrians were also killed in accidents, the result of wanton law-breaking by vehicles and walkers alike – aside from the lack of proper pavements and pedestrian crossings.

User

COMMENTS

vishal

2 years ago

the latest trend or what you can call a callous attitude for injuring or killing a person either walking on the road or driving is talking on the mobile and driving. This is more dangerous than rash driving or driving under the influence of liquor. Needless to say a Indian has to be at the mercy of God when he steps out of his house.

vishal

2 years ago

the latest trend or what you can call a callous attitude for injuring or killing a person either walking on the road or driving is talking on the mobile and driving. This is more dangerous than rash driving or driving under the influence of liquor. Needless to say a Indian has to be at the mercy of God when he steps out of his house.

Major earthquake jolts Nepal

The India Meteorological Department official said that the epicentre was in Nepal and the tremors were felt in north and east India

 

An earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale jolted Nepal on Tuesday, an official said here.
 
The India Meteorological Department official told IANS that the epicentre was in Nepal and the tremors were felt in north and east India, including Delhi, Guwahati, Lucknow and Jaipur.
 

User

Is transparency a hindrance to good governance?
We need to put pressure on various institutions, in the implementation of the RTI Act, so that they restrain from constricting our right, ensure a transparent process of selection for Commissioners and work for the adequate disposal of cases at the Commissions
 
The RTI Act has caught the imagination of people and the way it has spread is being appreciated and admired around the world. A great change has come in India in the last decade in the power equation between the sovereign citizens of the country and those in power. This change is just the beginning and if we can sustain and strengthen it, our defective elective democracy could metamorphose into a truly participatory democracy within the next one or two decades. We have just begun this journey towards a meaningful Swaraj. I believe media-visual, print and social, - and RTI have all been a fortunate heady mix. They have the potential of actualising the promise of democracy. However there are also signs of regressive forces which could stymie these promises.
 
I will refer to the two biggest dangers to RTI:
 
1. Most established Institutions are unhappy with RTI. When the power equation changes between those with power and the ordinary citizen, resistance is to be expected. Everyone in power generally feels transparency is good for others, whereas they should be left to work effectively. It is implied that transparency is a hindrance to good governance. 
 
The former Prime Minister,- harried by the uncovering of various scams by RTI,-said at the Central Information Commission’s convention in October 2012: “There are concerns about frivolous and vexatious use of the Act in demanding information the disclosure of which cannot possibly serve any public purpose.” The present Prime Minister has taken a preemptive action by not appointing a Chief Information Commissioner at all to render it dysfunctional. The bureaucracy is also hardening its stand and in most cases it has realised that the Commissioners are not really committed to transparency. This coupled with the long wait at the Commissions and the reluctance of the Commissions in imposing penalties is slowly making it difficult to get sensitive information which could aid citizens to expose structural shortcomings or corruption. A former Chief Justice of India said in April 2012, “The RTI Act is a good law but there has to be a limit to it.” I am amazed at the suggestion that there should be a limit to RTI beyond what has been laid down in the law by Parliament in terms of exemptions. Any interpretation beyond what is written in the law will be a violation of Citizen’s fundamental right to information. We have travelled some distance away from the statement made by a seven judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in S. P. Gupta v. President of India & Ors. (AIR 1982 SC 149) “There can be little doubt that exposure to public gaze and scrutiny is one of the surest means of achieving a clean and healthy administration. It has been truly said that an open government is clean government and a powerful safeguard against political and administrative aberration and inefficiency”.  
 
2. A greater danger comes from the selection of Information Commissioners as a part of political patronage. Most have no predilection for transparency or work. Their orders are often biased against transparency and in many places a huge backlog is being built up as a consequence of their inability to cope. Consequently, a law which seeks to ensure giving information to citizens in 30 days on pain of penalty gets stuck for over a year at the Commissions. Most of these Commissioners do not work to deliver results in a time-bound manner and lose all moral authority to penalise PIOs, who do not work in a time-bound manner. Commissioners are slowly working less and less. In the Central Information Commission six Commissioners had disposed 22,351 cases in 2011, whereas in 2014 seven Commissioners disposed only 16,006 cases! Civil society and media are rightly critical of the government for not appointing the balance four Commissioners, but at the current rate of disposal eleven Commissioners will not dispose over 25,000 cases a year. In 2014 CIC received 31000 cases and presently has a pendency of over 38,000 cases. It is evident that at this languorous pace of working RTI will slowly become like the Consumer Act, - mainly in existence for the Commissioners. Citizens must wake up from their slumber and focus on getting commissioners who will dispose over 6,000 cases each year and give clear signals that they will not tolerate tardiness from Public Information Officers or Commissioners.
 
Eternal Vigilance is the price for democracy. We have a very useful tool to make our democracy meaningful and effective. It will work and grow if we struggle to ensure its health. We need to put pressure on various institutions so that they restrain from constricting our right, ensure a transparent process of selection for Commissioners and work for the adequate disposal of cases at the Commissions. If we are lazy this right will also putrefy.    

User

COMMENTS

B. Yerram Raju

2 years ago

While I fully agree with the author on the contentious way in which the RTI Act is being implemented, the empowerment mechanisms of the Information Commissioners at the State and Central Government levels are poor. We should demand first the empowerment and also ensure that the posts are not looked at as bastions for the retired bureaucrats. Statutory powers of the Information Commissioners have to be specific and enforceable. Those who fault on timeliness for providing the demanded information, as long as it is available, shall be punished with certain pre-fixed boundaries. Let us also at the same time not mistake transparency for nudity. There will be certain aspects like those in defence that could damage the interests of the nation once the information is let lose. We have to exercise restraint where necessary.

D S Ranga Rao

2 years ago

"..........to put pressure on various institutions.........." But how? And who cares? Let's not be euphemistic. By now, it must be clear to us that we, the people of India, are once again betrayed in preferring tweedledee(BJP) to tweedledom(Cong). How can they be expected to abide by the laws of the land when they themselves have bluntly refused to come under the ambit of the RTI Act, 2005?

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