IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 30th November, 2015
General Studies 2:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:Infrastructure – Roads
India’s draft road transport and safety bill
To address the problem of road safety, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has come up with a new Road Transport and Safety Bill and if passed by Parliament, it would replace the existing Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.
The state of road safety in India
The global safety report of WHO states that India has the highest road traffic accident rate worldwide with over 140,000 deaths annually, beating even China.
Road accidents are a serious problem, but little attention is being paid to this.
While annually the nation loses almost 1.5 per cent of its GDP on account of road accidents, we are not even spending 10 per cent of that amount to make our roads safe.
Every year almost 1.3 million people die in road accidents, globally.
What the bill tries to achieve?
In the bill, the government has set a target to save 200,000 lives in the first five years through reduction in road traffic accident deaths by strict implementation of laws.
It envisages a 4 per cent GDP improvement on account of increased efficiency and safety of road transport sector.
Additionally, it tries to generate over 10 lakh jobs by promoting investment in transport sector.
Proposals of the bill:
The bill proposes strict penalties and heavy fines for violating signals. The proposed fine varies from Rs. 5,000 to 50,000
It proposes fine of Rs. 5 lakh per vehicle, as well as imprisonment, for faulty manufacturing design, besides cancellation of licenses for rash and negligent driving and holds both the manufacturer and the user liable. In case of using vehicle in unsafe conditions such as using a vehicle which as prior defects, violates the safety standards; a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh or imprisonment for six months, which may extend to one year or both, is proposed.
It proposes the creation of three lead agencies: National authority for road safety, National transport and multimodal coordination authority and State transport authority
It has set targets to reduce the number of fatal road accidents
Strict penalties for offences involving children
Unified vehicle registration system and registration to be linked with insurance, vehicle offences, and vehicle fitness
Vehicle fitness testing and worthiness road tests for all cars and two-wheelers every five years
Multi-modal integration of bus rapid transport and intra-city transport
Provisions for NMT and pedestrian bicycle infrastructure
Emphasis on safety of schoolchildren/women/persons with disability
Main focus of the bill:
The draft bill claims that it has been drafted in sync with the best practices of six advanced nations — US, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Germany and the UK.
The main focus of the bill is on stronger punitive action and penalty. It aims to make the penalties more stringent, with an aim to curb traffic violations.
It has proposed steep penalties of up to Rs 3 lakh, along with a minimum seven-year imprisonment for death of a child in certain circumstances, besides huge fines for driving violations.
The draft Road Safety and Transport Bill, 2014, stresses on improving the system of catching an offender, streamlining issuance of driving licences, penalty, and registration of vehicles and introduction of digital systems.
To check speed limit, it proposes use of the intelligent speed adaptation, driver alert control and eye drowsiness detector and these are to be managed and made functional by the states at their level.
The proposed road safety bill is focused more technology solutions than urban design solutions.
A critical analysis:
Several questions have been raised about the adequacy of the bill to address the problem of road safety.
The amount of hefty fines that have been assigned for violations of traffic rules is going to increase under-reporting as the fine amount is heftier than salaries of most vehicle owners. The vast majority of drivers on Indian roads are two-wheeler riders, taxi, three-wheeler, personal and bus drivers who earn less than Rs 500 per day. The proposed fines are about 10 times higher than what they should be.
The reforms created in road safety bill are similar to that existed in JNNURM, like vehicle fitness testing, pedestrian bicycle infrastructure etc and to our surprise not more than one or two cities could fulfil any of the reforms successfully in the last eight years in the JNNURM scheme. Creating similar reforms with similar set ups are again going to create parallel authorities with no specific transport solution.
The bill proposes various authorities which aim to bring coordination and integration in multiple transport authorities and to improve road safety and vehicle regulation, aiding accountability and transparency in the planning and development of efficient multi-modal infrastructure. But the there is no clarity about institutional arrangements. When it comes to catching the traffic offenders, the bill is not clear about who is going to collect the fine and how it is going to be utilised.
Roads in India have to be designed keeping land uses and road activities in mind.
Road design should include needs of pedestrians and cyclists.
The bill has to take into account the principles of National Urban Transport Policy guidelines and other street design guidelines and they have to be made mandatory.
The proposed road safety bill should not repeat the mistakes of JNNURM, which just brought in more projects of road widening, constructing signal free roads and making road infrastructure unsafe for vulnerable users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
However good the bill maybe, but a stringent enforcement has to act as a deterrent.
Connecting the dots:
Critically examine the provisions of the draft Road transport and safety bill,2014.
Write a note on National urban transport policy.
Examine the importance of better roads in promoting economic development and inclusive growth within the country.
General Studies 1: Regionalism & Secularism.
General Studies 2: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation;
Secularism and India
India is a multi-religious society and religion forms an intrinsic part of our being. From the governance viewpoint, it sure is not an easy task to govern those who have belief in different faith and who have a different approach towards all other things; which is why our ancestors crafted out a way known as ‘Secularism’ for peace to exist in India’s social order.
Indian Secularism: Implies that the state will not identify with any one religion but is tolerant of all religious practices
Complete separation of State and Religion
Full liberty of the followers of all religions as well as atheists and agnostics to follow their respective faith
“India cannot cease to be one nation, because people belonging to the different religious live in it . . . If the Hindus believe that India should be peopled only by Hindus, they are living in a dreamland. The Hindus, the Mohammedans, the Parsis and the Christians who have made India their country are fellow countrymen, and they will have to live in it only for their own interests. In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India.
– M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj (1908)
Orthodox Plural Theory of Gandhi:
Reasons of it being famous:
Strong religious feeling among different classes and communities proved to be afertile ground and a sound base for nationalism
While desiring to uplift the downtrodden it did not deprive the rich, industrial, commercial classes from the control over social and economic power
But religious cleavages to be handled by using religious loyalties created a much deeper rift in the heart of two religious communities; rich and powerful took the main stage and thus, dominated the course of future action. This experiment thus, proved to be a wrong move.
Nehru declared in 1950: “The Government of a country like India with many religions that have secured great and devoted following for generations can never function satisfactorily in the modem age except on a secular basis”
India would remain ‘secular’ actually means:
Each citizen would be guaranteed full freedom to practice and preach his own religion but cannot forcefully convert others into his choice of religion
State will have no religion
All citizens, religious or agnostics, will be equal
Exception: State can legislate in favour of oppressed community (minorities enjoy cultural and educational rights
Report Card of Secularism:
As a rhetorical political tool-
For Muslim Community:
Flattened the diversity of the Muslim community by defining the community along a religious dimension
Redefined their interests primarily in terms of religion and privileged the Muslim elite
For Hindu Community:
Has given the right-wing Hindus a political tool to mobilise votes and attain political power
Alienation of the ethnic minorities from the mainstream
The ‘Hindutva’ element– The infamous matter of loyalties
Hinduism is a belief, while Hindutva is an ideology-
Mere ideological basis makes it more leaned towards uniformity and major forms of restrictiveness to perpetuate in the society.
A glue called ‘Similarity’-
Hinduism is manifold, while the political elements preaches about one nation, one state, one culture, one religion and thus, encourages mediocrity. India has dozens of languages, myriad religions and is still united as a single nation. Thus, it is our similarities that have glued us together and not the ‘blown-out-of-proportion’ differences
Being all and yet being one-
Listening to U.S. President George Bush once, the Dalai Lama commented: “He brings out the Muslim in me.” In this context, what the Dalai Lama was claiming was that President Bush’s behaviour, his treatment of Islam and the Muslim was unfair, untrue and almost barbaric. Similarly, our Indianness needs no testimony of our loyalty to just one God or one religion; but to religious values and sentiments of our fellow citizens
India is defined as a secular republic in the Preamble to the Constitution and therefore the first and the foremost thing that should be present, is the need to refrain from dismissing any religion or deliberately pronouncing them to be false.
The recent return of awards and voicing of the opinions by famous personalities should be taken in a neutral manner and should become a base for our analysis over the issues which should cover all the dimensions of thought process related to the past, present and the future. The very fact that we, as Indians, can have a voice and can express our insecurity should assure one of tolerance that very much prevails in the society.
The cry of religion is a dangerous cry and it can only be extinguished with the help of education and thus, a rational approach towards education of the masses needs to be taken up on a priority basis. This will lead to the negation of the escalation of the prevailing ‘offence culture’ in the society and would seek to achieve a true democratic republic.
Connecting the Dots:
‘The offence principle has been seen shaking the foundations for tolerance that one disagrees with.’ Do you agree? Discuss
One of the foundations of a true democracy is ‘Tolerance’. Comment
There were many articles today on UN Convention on Climate change @ Paris summit. We had covered the issue in detail earlier. Refer the below link-