Chennai traffic sign

By a stroke of a pen, or it may be by the punch of a key, whoever it is that passes these laws has ensured that fines for traffic violations have been increased many times over in this, our land. Every kind of disobedience on the road, so the Man from Madras Musings notes, will now attract damages that are in four figures at the minimum, along with endorsement of licence for certain misdemeanours. Cameras have come up on many thoroughfares and in some places at intervals of ten feet or so. They wink and blink at the vehicles that pass by and their switching between blue and pink lights makes for a colourful display. MMM sincerely hopes that they are recording violations and passing on the recorded numbers to the authorities for the imposing of suitable fines.

With so many checks in place MMM expected that traffic behaviour would improve but that has not yet happened. Perhaps it will. On the other hand it may not. But MMM is still puzzled over why policemen have increased in numbers at all traffic junctions and once there they do not so much regulate traffic but lie in wait for two-wheelers in particular and on whom they pounce with unfailing regularity.

MMM wonders as to what they do after apprehending these riders. From what MMM can see, there appears to ensue a prolonged conversation beneath a tree or two, the beginnings being rather one sided, with the police doing much of the talking and the riders adopting a very beseeching and obsequious attitude. Subsequently, there is a silence of sorts, the police having said its say and the apprehended still digesting its import. After this, conversation becomes general and then the offenders, if in a group, retire a short distance away and confabulate amongst each other even as the police, who have several calls on their time, focus on other offenders who are passing by. And then the shortly-to-be-declared offenders return. There are fresh parleys and then everyone departs with a smile on their faces. This is known as a win-win situation in management jargon. Yes, even the police is smiling, no doubt with the satisfaction of having done its duty. Those that were fined are smiling too, no doubt with the satisfaction of having discharged their debt to society. The State ought to be smiling too, with the money by way of fines flowing into its kitty. But something tells MMM that this last may not be happening. The offence is most likely dealt with in a spirit of ‘give and take’, with nothing being put on record.

After all, in a democracy it is discussion, debate and deliberation that delivers and not the dictatorial imposition of the law.