Despite much noise and fanfare, whether the Bill delivers for citizens, or for policemen and politicians, is yet to be seen
The draft of the ‘new’ Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014 has been on the road transport and highway ministry’s website and has been discussed at various forums for some time now. In some form or the other, this proposed successor to the Motor Vehicles Act has been in the offing for several decades and provisions have been added in fits and starts.
The end result appears to be a sort of hacked and pasted documents; bits and pieces are borrowed from online resources on legislation in other countries and some strong deterrents have been thought up locally. It is not likely to improve road safety for all stakeholders; it might have the effect of putting an AK-47 in the hands of a monkey would, considering that the previous Motor Vehicles Act was like a baton in those hands.
There appear to be very strong penalties and post-facto deterrents, but there is not much about pre-empting the causes of road accidents like issues of responsibilities and accountability for design, construction and management of roads. A motor vehicle-owner or operator can be penalised for missing a badly positioned traffic signal but a shopkeeper who usurps the pavement and a part of the road will continue to go scot-free.
In addition, several ‘exemptions’ and ‘benefits’ have been provided for those in power, making it a very unfair Bill. The culture of red beacons and toll exemptions, for example, will continue. While citizens may continue to face harassment for re-registration of vehicles, government employees will continue to be exempted.
The draft Bill does not appear to take into account two major parameters which are part and parcel of all sustainable and successful civilisations.
1) Free unhindered passage to all for legitimate purposes and intent, including for all people and vehicles carrying goods or passengers with minimal additional costs and inefficiencies;
2) Minimal inequity on the roads and lesser discomfort to more people, especially at inter-modal exchange points, with safety for all as a simple guideline. If you want to see what that means, please travel by Delhi Metro.
On the issue of automobile companies seeking and accepting ‘bookings’ for motor vehicles not yet in the market, or for those with waiting lists for whatever reasons, the customer/consumer’s interests and point of view appear to be the last parameter on the minds of those involved. As somebody who has booked a Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, I speak from first-hand experience as well as wider research and other people’s experiences.
First of all, even though it is the manufacturer who solicits advance bookings from customers, it is the dealer who collects the money and in the name of the dealer. This is wrong and needs to be controlled immediately.
Next, there is no interest payable on the booking amount if the delivery of the vehicle is delayed beyond reasonable limits. In the case of the Ciaz, the manufacturer announced a ‘launch’ and an ‘introductory pricing’ with great fanfare; but, when it came to deliveries, prospective buyers were informed that it would take at least another three-four months. I leave it to the customer to judge whether this is a fraud or not.
Third, the manufacturer is clearly launching an untested and unproven product, as can be deduced from the feedback on problems being faced with the upper-end variants.
If one were to connect the dots, it appears to be no more than a way to work with dealers to raise funds at low cost and not deliver the promised goods. Imagine, for a moment, that an airline persuaded us to buy low-fare tickets months in advance and, closer to the date of travel, simply refused to communicate with customers and actually withdrew the flight and route? Something similar is happening with bookings for cars, lately.
(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.)
Lessons for consumers from the big billion day fiasco
Everyone loves to buy...
New report finds that recalled supplements containing hidden drugs are still available for purchase online
Before you reach for that supplement to boost your health, consider this recent medical journal report that found a significant number of supplements that have been recalled in the past few years are still on the market and contain hidden drugs.
A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 10 percent of supplements that were recalled between 2009 and 2012 were still available for purchase and a majority of them contained pharmaceutical drugs.
Manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements do not need approval from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before marketing a product but are legally responsible for selling safe products that are not adulterated with pharmaceuticals. If a supplement does contain active pharmaceutical ingredients then the FDA can deem them unapproved drugs and misbranded. Almost half of all FDA Class I drug recalls since 2004 involved dietary supplements that contained banned pharmaceutical ingredients, the report said.
The report reviewed 247 recalled supplements and found that consumers could still purchase 10 percent of them six months or more after the recall. Of these, 67 percent contained one or more hidden pharmaceutical drugs, typically the same drug that prompted the initial recall. Some of the supplements still sold online contained additional drugs as well.
Specifically, the study found:
Eighty-five percent of sports enhancement supplements tested had drugs, such as anabolic steroids.
Sixty-seven percent of weight-loss supplements contained banned drugs, such as sibutramine or prescription anti-depressants.
Twenty percent of sexual enhancement supplements contained prescription medications such as sildenafil.
The researchers called for changes to laws to give the FDA more enforcement powers and for more aggressive enforcement of current laws.
In a statement to TINA.org, an FDA spokesperson said the agency faces several challenges to prevent the adulterated supplements from being marketed.
The supply chain for these products is extremely fragmented; one product manufactured by an unknown company overseas may be sold by dozens of different distributors in the U.S. The individuals and businesses selling these products generally are difficult to locate, operate out of residential homes, and distribute via internet, small stores, and mail. Products are shipped through the (I)nternational mail facilities and are often misdeclared as unrelated goods to avoid detection. Even after recall and enforcement action against one major distributor, the product may continue to be widely sold.
Given all these issues, before taking a supplement you should probably check to see if it is on the FDA list of recalled products. Check with your physician before taking any health-related supplements. And read up on supplements. The FDA offers tips here. TINA.org’s continuing coverage of supplements can be found here.