Sorry is the word Salman Khan

I am sorry

 A few weeks ago the most talked about news or the only news in India and midst Indians was Salman Khan’s conviction in an accident case. He was convicted for 3 years in jail because he drove his car onto pedestrians sleeping on the street injuring some and killing 1 person as well. The court concluded that he was drunk and he did not take responsibility for his actions. This happened in the middle of a night in the year 2002. It took 13 years for him to be convicted. It is reported in the media that he is a changed man since that night. He started his own charity called “Being Human” and has helped and touched a lot of lives. If Salman really does want to prove that he has changed the only way he can do it is by accepting it and taking responsibility for the accident. “Sorry” is the word Salman and this will bring peace to himself and the people and their families involved in this case.

This conviction has raised a lot of questions about our judicial system, people’s attitudes, divide between Bollywood and general public, media’s craze for sensation and the poor helpless victims involved and their attitudes. But the most important question is why do these sort of incidents keep happening in our country? It was reported that Salman Khan left dying people under his car and ran to his lawyer’s house. Why and what made Salman do that? Is Salman inhuman? Has Salman not got any remorse or feelings? Probably not then what made him do that? I guess the answer is attitude and culture. In India we have an attitude that money, power and influence can buy anything including the law. This is highlighted in many instances time and again, it’s even shown in Bollywood movies the very own movies where Salman is a high profile star. So it’s the attitude and culture which made Salman run away from the accident and since then he hasn’t stopped running.

There are many instances that people in power get concessions and there is nobody to question it.

  1. Rahul Gandhi went away on a sabbatical and did not attend the parliament during that time, nobody questions it.
  2. Sachin Tendulkar Rajya sabha MP has 3% attendance record in the Rajya Sabha and an RTI was raised regarding this. Sachin Tendulkar’s answer was he was tending to his brother who was unwell and so he could not attend Rajya Sabha. The question is did he not leave his house or engage in other activities during this period of time. Imagine how many regular workers in our country would be able to say this answer and still keep their jobs.
  3. Sanjay Dutt was convicted of having 3 AK 56 rifles at his home illegally. He alleged that he received death threats and he bought these rifles to protect his family. Why would somebody buy AK 56 rifles to protect their family as opposed to a licensed pistol? He was convicted and imprisoned for 5 years. He has been out of jail so many times citing that his wife is not well. Although I have my sympathies for him and his wife, Is this special treatment available for every other prisoner in the country?
  4. Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor dies in a hotel under mysterious circumstances. Mr Tharoor was not questioned in relation to this case until an year after his wife’s death and was questioned only when the SIT requested it. If this was any other citizen in any other country the first person to be questioned will be the husband who in this case is Mr Tharoor.
  5. Devyani Khobragade was arrested in the US on charges of ill-treating her domestic help Sangeeta Richards. Devyani Khobragade’s arrest was not well received by the govt due to the way there diplomat was treated and Indo US relations were sour at that time. The Indian govt seems to be proud that it handled the situation very well but the biggest question is, What happened to Sangeeta Richards and Is she not an Indian citizen and Does the Indian govt not have any responsibility to Sangeeta and her family?

This list will go on and shows how much the law bends over if you are a citizen with money and power. I personally don’t want to judge these celebrities and politicians because given an opportunity to bend the law without any repercussions anybody will abuse it. It’s the system and the culture which is responsible for this.

So let’s see some examples of convictions in UK

  1. Chris Huhne a politician gets a speeding ticket and he requested his wife to take the ticket as he didn’t want his career to be ruined. So his wife takes the ticket. 10 years later he is a Cabinet Minister from the Liberal democrat party. At this time he and his wife separate and wife admits taking speeding points for her husband. This results in both being jailed for 8 months and Chris Huhne is told to pay 77,500£ in legal costs
  2. Probably the biggest scandal ever in the UK political circles is the MP’s expenses scandal. MP’s claimed expenses fraudulently for second home, tax evasion etc. This came into light through the FOI act and what followed was something to be applauded. The leaders of the major political parties told their MP’s to pay back all the expenses and most of them have paid back

There is some more to add but the following link will be a worth a read.

I guess it will be years before this will happen in India. I have often noticed that when I cite examples from other countries we Indians get defensive and try to dig dirt about those countries. I think that attitude should change, the attitude should be to learn from better systems rather than finding fault in their systems.

There are definitely a lot of positives which have come up with this high profile cases

  1. Social media gives a chance for people to voice their opinions and in all this it’s good to see that people want a change.
  2. Change is already happening and that’s the main reason Arvind Kejriwal was re-elected in Delhi. They failed when they were elected the 1st time but they were re-elected again with a phenomenal majority and Sorry was the word which got them re-elected. Arvind Kejriwal accepted his mistake and the public magnanimously provided him with a second chance.
  3. There is a demand for a complete overhaul of our judicial system hoping that will make law equal for everybody.
  4. When people talk about the poor victims in the Salman Khan’s case it reminds us that humanity still exists within each and everyone of us and that will eventually get rid of the selfishness.
  5. Strong leadership with an attitude towards positive change is needed and there are definitely some politicians and citizens who are committed towards a positive change.

Finally a positive change can happen only if we accept and forgive our mistakes, once again “Sorry is the word Salman Khan” which changes everything, brings peace and that’s what “Being Human” is.

Are we ready to get rid of corruption?


corruption logo




Every Indian who wants India to prosper and become a successful nation feels that getting rid of corruption is the only solution for that. Of course I agree but are we ready to get rid of corruption? Do we understand what a corrupt free India will be like? There is an old saying that if you point a finger at somebody remember that the rest of the fingers of your hand are pointing towards you. This is a blog for those people who point fingers at others and don’t realise that the rest of the fingers are pointing towards them.

So what does Corruption mean? These are some of the definitions which I found on the web

1.      Lack of integrity or honesty, use of a position of trust for dishonest gain

2.      Inducement by improper means to violate duty

3.      The process of decay

My blog is focussed on the 3rd definition, we as a culture are so used to corruption that we don’t realise that our culture, attitude is in the process of decay.

Now, let’s look at some of the day to day examples which we will come across in a corrupt free India.

1.      We have to pay the right amount of tax, be honest with our taxes, if we don’t the hand of law is much bigger, so we will be penalised for it.

2.      Imagine this scenario, rich kid drives dad’s car without a license, kills somebody on the road, walks away from it and the dad finds a poor man and makes him to take the blame and the son walks free. In a corrupt free India this kid will have to be prosecuted. This story is about Chris Huhne an MP in the UK who was sent to jail, it’s an interesting read

3.      You cannot drink and drive, you have to take a taxi home or arrange a friend (who has not had any alcohol) to drop you back home. This applies for all the road traffic offenses like not wearing a helmet, not wearing a seat belt, driving whilst talking on a mobile phone and most importantly have to give a proper test to get a driving license etc.

4.      You cannot drive an unlicensed auto or taxi

5.      You cannot bribe a customs officer and bring things into the country for which you should have paid customs duty.

6.      You cannot get a fake medical/sickness certificate

7.      You cannot get false reports on investigations, forensics, autopsy reports

8.      You cannot get a loan if you are not eligible for 1 even if your bank manager is your blood relative

9.      You cannot jump queues or cut corners because you know a politician or an influential person. This applies to influential persons as well just because you are in power doesn’t mean that you get priority. This is very commonly seen in our temples where celebrities and people of power have a special line for themselves.

10.   You fail to pay a bill you have to pay the specified penalty and not get away by bribing the officer.

11.   Your kid who is not good at studies can’t get a seat in a good school/college through a recommendation from a politician, they have to sit through the exams and get admitted in school/college if they are successful.

12.   Public officials have to work their standard hours of work and have to be doing official work when at work. They will also have to complete work at the stipulated time.

13.   Can’t use government vehicle for personal reasons

14.   Hospital staff can’t sell medicines to Local pharmacies at a cheaper price and you can’t buy cheaper medications which should have been given to the poor people.

15.   All government employees will be accountable for their work and if they don’t the organisation is responsible for it including handling people’s complaints.

16.   Can’t smuggle government supplies ranging from a simple pen to building materials for personal use.

17.   Street shops should be only in legitimate places and can’t bribe the police and get away from it.

18.   MP’s either Lok sabha or Rajya Sabha would have to attend parliament and cannot get away with poor attendance.

19.   Businesses have to comply with health and safety regulations which would automatically reduce their profit.

20.   Judiciary cannot be bribed to get favourable verdicts.

21.   Politicians who are corrupt and convicted will not get special treatment and celebrities will not be able to openly support a corrupted politician blaming political vendetta.

22.   You can’t have black money in real estate transactions.

23.   Politicians or celebrities can’t set up properties or companies in your name (no benami names)

24.   Common man will not get money, alcohol, biryani during election time. Election funding will have to be made public.

25.   There won’t be cheap labour in India as everybody in the system will have a minimum wage and they have to pay tax and will get all employee rights as any other job.

26.   Consumers will have better consumer rights and if you sell faulty stuff you are accountable for it.

This is just a simple snapshot of our day to day lives in a corrupt free world.  “You” in this blog refers to the common man who is against corruption and is part of corruption. I know that every common man would like to live in a corrupt free world but they have to realise that they are part of the corruption and their attitudes and culture has to change if they want to get rid of corruption.

So we need to ask the question again – Are we ready to get rid of corruption? May be the answer makes more sense this time.

Road safety

road safety






Road safety – Heard of that?
Road safety – have we heard of this term in India? I certainly haven’t but politicians have started talking about it now because 1 of them (a senior minister) died in a Road Traffic Accident (RTA). This is definitely a good sign as political will has a great impact in India.
WHO has estimated that more than 231027 people in India die of RTA’s every year. The stats are alarming
1. India accounts for 12% of the world’s total accident fatalities
2. A third of the people who are killed in RTA’s are under the age of 25
3. A third of the people who are killed are either 2 wheeler or 3 wheeler drivers or passengers.

The most interesting point to note here is that there is no actual recorded data for the number of accidents that happen on India’s roads. I think it’s no point talking about how unsafe are our roads and instead I want to focus on how to make our roads safer. I am writing this blog to highlight some of the road safety measures followed in different countries which can be used to formulate road safety rules in India.

Basic safety rules
Everybody should wear a seat belt – In the UK law if a passenger is found not wearing seat belt the driver is actually fined 50£, obviously this would mean the driver ensures that all the passengers are wearing seat belts.
Anybody driving or riding a 2 wheeler should wear helmets.
Children under a certain age and under a certain height should be seated in a child seat.
If it’s a 2 seater vehicle only 2 people are allowed and if it’s a 5 seater car only 5 people are allowed to ride in the vehicle.

Vehicle safety requirements
All vehicles should have insurance, tax paid.
All vehicles should undergo a very basic fitness test called MOT (Ministry of transport) test which will ascertain if the car is road safe. If the car fails the MOT then the required changes have to be made and presented again to pass the test. If you drive a car without a valid MOT you get a hefty fine.
All cars should have air bags fitted for the driver and passenger.
No honking ever. Think about the amount of noise pollution and the diseases it causes and what have we achieved by honking.
Make sure all your lights, indicators are working, if they are not and the police spots you, you have to pay a fine.
You are not allowed to drive with a high beam as this can be a major distraction to the driver in front of you and opposite to you. Always use low beam.

Driving license
The theory test which I took in India was a joke as the agent filled in all my answers and the practical test was driving for less than 50 m with 4 people sitting in the same car. As we all know most of them don’t even take the practical test but are able to get (buy) a driving license. This should change and should be the first point of addressing road safety.
In most of the countries it involves a 2 stage process of passing a theory test and a practical test.
The theory test is an online test which happens in a test centre.
The Practical test involves the candidate driving with the examiner on normal roads during normal hours for about 1 hour, you are also tested for your parking skills and manoeuvres. You are basically tested in real driving situations. The examiner marks the candidate based on the number of minor mistakes and major mistakes. If you have 1 major mistake you are failed and have to retake the test.
If you are a learned driver you should have an L plate displayed and should be driving accompanied by somebody who has held a license for atleast 3 years. People who have recently passed their test can display a P plate for a few months until they become more confident to drive.

Road signs
UK has 1 of the most effective and reliable system of road signs when compared to the rest of the countries. Clear road signs means more focus on driving and less chance of mistakes and accidents. So what are the basics which would ensure that we are safe on our roads? I am highlighting some of the most important ones which we need to have.
1. Speed limit – There is no guidelines about speed limits in India and there are no sign boards telling the speed limit. In the UK Speed limit is simplified depending upon the roads you are driving. For example if you are driving in a residential area with street lights it is automatically 30 mph unless otherwise displayed. The national speed limit is 70 mph for motorways (3 lanes) and dual carriage way (2 lanes). There are single carriage ways which have a speed limit of 60mph. These are standard speed limits for approx. 80% of the roads in UK.
2. There are different types of pedestrian crossings, display clearly which type of crossing it is.
3. If there is going to be work undertaken on any of the roads they are clearly displayed well in advance and the times the road will be closed etc. Most of the time work is done during the weekends or after office hours to make it convenient for the public.
4. Services and petrol stations are all situated in designated places and they are marked clearly with signs for exit etc.
5. Electronic sign board are present throughout the motorways and dual carriage ways which are used to notify congestion, accidents, change in speed limit, parking availability etc.
6. Roundabouts are 1 of the best creations and they work brilliantly. Signs are displayed when you are going to be approaching a roundabout and the exit destinations for that roundabout.
7. The obvious things on the display boards are places, attractions in that place and the distance to get there.

This is 1 of the most important things which India needs for our ever growing population.
I want to mention about something called “Hard shoulder”. Hard shoulder is an extra lane in most of the motorways for access to emergency service vehicles and police. In the event of an accident the police or the ambulance can get to the accident spot without going through miles of traffic by using this lane and can get to the spot quickly. This is also a lane for people who have breakdown problems or any other emergency. It’s a serious offence for moving traffic to use this lane unless instructed by authorities. This basically ensures that lives are saved and traffic congestion is reduced.
Signals work 24/7 unlike in India which stops at some point during the night.
Cameras- Cameras are everywhere to monitor traffic movement but also to spot people breaking laws.
The big question I get asked is do we have pot holes in other countries, of course they do but they are very minimal and nothing compared to the pot holes sizes on Indian roads. Pot holes are reported and are immediately fixed, if you suffer damage due to pot holes the local council are accountable for it and you may be entitled for a compensation.
Computerise the whole process of getting a license, insurance, MOT, Tax and everything related to road safety, it will save a lot of money and time. It will also ensure that 1 breaking the law can be identified and punished rapidly.

Offences and penalties
Cameras are the eyes of the law. There are speed cameras which captures the registration plate if you break the speed limit and you get a speeding ticket for that. You also get three points on your license for every single offence. In the 1st 2 years if you get 6 points your license is revoked and you have to go through a new application process. After 2 years you are allowed up to 12 points before your license is revoked.
Anytime you break the law like not paying your tax, insurance or drive a car without MOT you have to pay fine. There are cameras everywhere which capture number plates and analyse this information, so human presence is not required and offenders will still be caught.

The government collects data about everything related road safety like accidents, death related to accidents, fines, penalties etc. This is a very useful tool when planning for road safety. For example if on a particular road there have been more accidents they analyse the reason for it and make changes like reducing the speed limit on that road or installing a speed camera.
Indian government and the state governments in India should start collecting data and use that to improve road safety.

Education is the key to road safety. Road safety awareness should be promoted at home, schools, public places through media and various government programs and initiatives. This will definitely have a long term positive impact on road safety.

We really have a long way to go in terms of making our roads safer but it’s not too late to start. I want to finish by saying how a friend of mine compared driving in India to UK. In India people drive thinking that nobody follows the law as opposed to UK where people drive thinking that everybody will follow the law. I guess that’s something to think about!!