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1. India is one of the worst hit countries with respect to road accidents in the world. Why is this a recurring phenomenon in India? Do you think that adequate measures are kept in place to tackle this issue? Suggest some alternative measures that are needed to change this scenario.(GS 1) The Hindu-1 | The Hindu-2 Reasons for the recurring phenomenon are:

  • In a majority of road accident cases (more than 75 per cent in 2015), the blame is primarily placed on the driver according to government analysis.
  • Even victims are often booked for “negligence” in many cases involving poorly designed and maintained roads.
  • However blaming on the driver entirely is a faulty mechanism.There are other institutions to be blamed as well
    • Slow pace is best exemplified by the fact that it was only in 2014 that ‘potholes’, among other causes, found a mention in the official figures as factors causing accidents.
    • There are no established robust data collection systems to ascertain the causes of crashes, track their effects on the victims through a national trauma registry.
    • In Cambodia, the Road Crash and Victim Information System combines data collected from both the police as well as the hospitals.
  • India lacks both a crash investigation system as well as a trauma registry, and has a antique method of ascertaining the causes of road deaths.
  • When an accident occurs, the document which is relied upon to ascertain the cause is the FIR, which is prepared by the police.
  • Due to lack of proper training, the police are unable to capture the various human, infrastructural, and vehicular factors that play a vital role in each accident.
  • The primary gap lies in the current legislative framework that governs road safety in India.
    • The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is silent on fixing accountability for road accidents that are caused due to poorly designed and maintained roads.
    • So it is left to the police to use their discretion, which in the present scenario always results in all the blame being heaped on the driver.

Some measures have already been taken to address this issue by states and centre:- Centre:

  • Will conduct road safety audit of 3,000 km of central and state highways this year.
  • Also planning to engage the state governments to undertake safety audits of state highways and district roads
  • Government is also planning to launch a programme to sensitise and educate truck drivers on road safety on the lines of AIDS awareness and prevention programme launched for heavy vehicle drivers several years ago.
  • The government has endorsed the United Nations’ Safe System Approach,and is introducing road safety as part of school curriculum
  • Asking all states and particularly those reporting high number of accidents to take measures including traffic rule enforcement, removing liquor vends along national highways, notifying speed limits, streamlining issuance of driving licences and to have a robust emergency rescue system to save lives,
    • have an autonomous agency for road safety – national road safety board,
  • The roadmap for Decade of Action was finalized recently by the road transport ministry almost three years after India became a signatory to the UN call to reduce accidents, injuries and deaths across the globe.
  • To grade the safety of Indian cars and make them safer an agency will be set up -the Bharat National Car Assessment Programme. Even scooters and motorcycles in India will have automatic headlamps on.
  • The Ministry is also hoping that the passage of the Road Safety Bill will further bring down road fatalities.

States:

  • Maharashtra-
    • The various efforts taken are listed below:

i) Accident Prevention checking/ standing duty at Accident spots:

    • With a view to curb the tendency of rash driving, jumping signals at junctions by driving at excessive speed, non-stopping of buses at scheduled bus stops, not allowing sufficient time to passengers for boarding/alighting, etc.
    • During the checking the drivers/conductors are suitably instructed and the drivers/conductors committing breach of instructions are reported and disciplinary action is taken.

ii) Night checking:This special check is carried out twice in a month iii) Counselling Bus Drivers:

  • With a view to make accident prevention more effective drivers are counselled personally by the Officers of Traffic Department. o Officers and are sent to Traffic Training Centre for refresher training course.
  • Delhi:

In public works department a cell dedicated to road safety will be created to identify the black spots in the city, road safety enforcement. What needs to be done ?

  • One of the most productive measures to bring down accidents is zero tolerance enforcement. Strong policing reduces the risk for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and two-wheeler riders, who must be compelled to wear helmets.
  • Case study:-Sustainable Safe Road System in Netherland:-
    • It aims to prevent crashes and even if it occurs it intends to minimize the consequences, which include increase in size of zones to 30km/hr in, built up areas and 60km/hr outside built up areas.
  • Several measures including amendment in Motor Vehicle Act ( MVA), improvement in roads from engineering perspective, road safety audits in all stages of road construction as well as the identification and remedy of black spots will help reduce fatal road accidents are needed.
  • India does not have a scientific accident investigation agency
  • Implementation of the Sundar Committee on Road Safety and Traffic Management which recommended the creation of a safety board through legislation.
  • It is unlikely that the proposed National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board will lead to dramatic improvements, since it is envisaged only as an advisory body.
  • Without empowered oversight, it is impossible to eliminate systemic corruption in transport departments in vehicle certification and licensing of drivers, and poor monitoring of roadworthiness of commercial vehicles.
  • Develop awareness:
    • lack of awareness of basic traffic rules, absence of traffic signage and change the situation where neither passenger nor commercial vehicles come equipped with basic safety features.
  • Police harassment need to reduce:
    • The general public are reluctant to help accident victims for fear of getting caught up in court battles, whilst medical help is often too little too late.
  • Traffic police need better road infrastructure and technology to police speeding and drunk driving two primary causes of road accidents and enforce penalties.
    • In 2015 alone, over 10,800 accidents in India were caused by potholes, leading to the deaths of more than 3,400 people.

Some facts:

  • The antiquated traffic management and transportation system resulted in 1,50,000 deaths and left more than half a million injured last year,affirming the country’s status as among the riskiest in the world for road users.
  • Data also show that more than half of those killed last year were in the productive age group of 15 to 34, pointing to a calamitous loss of young lives.
  • India accounts for 5 lakh road accidents annually in which 1.5 lakh people die and another 3 lakh are crippled for life. The loss due to this is equivalent to 3 per cent of the GDP of the country.

Over the years, India has seen a steep rise in road accidents. According to a report on road accidents in India released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 2015 has seen the greatest rise in number of accidents in five years- 12,023 accidents more than the previous years.


2. “It is not only for what we do but also for what we do not do we are accountable”. Do you agree? Support your answer with examples.(GS 4) Introduction:-

  • People believe there are so many things they have done in life, the ones which they take responsibility for, the ones which make them proud and the mistakes which they look at as growing experiences.
  • But in the realm of all these,people are sure there will also be certain small things which they try to escape from maybe those small hitches to take actions maybe like nursing a puppy or helping someone cross the road.
  • One of the thoughts they have usually had when they didn’t do those were “Someone else would do it’and someone would actually come and do it but it was rarely them.
  • Although most times it ended in being delegated very effectively, there were also times where they were not and people would just leave to avoid any action or a compunction to create an action.
  • Most of the time people think they want to help but they don’t take the plunge to help. People are sure there can be a lot of words to describe this action, but they are also sure it all was led by one thought – avoiding responsibility.
  • This is visible in many accident cases or was seen even in Nirbhaya rape case where they were lying naked on the road and no one even bothered.These inactions lead to loss of life for people.So people are indirectly accountable to these actions
  • But people do realize now that they are held accountable not just for the things they do but also for the things they don’t do. Sometimes maybe not to someone else but to themselves. When they do that to ourselves, it is not the easiest of the emotions to handle.
  • Some examples are:
    • Recent lynching of some people all over India also shows that people are concerned all over the country about such instances but inaction is leading to more acts of such grave violence.
    • Being not accountable creates a sense of guilt in one’s conscience which rips a human apart.
    • There are instances when in the government offices bribes are taken and others know about it but do not take any action.
    • During elections ,political parties distribute liquor,cash against the model code of election commission but no one complains to the police .
  • Good actions bring good things into your life; bad actions bring bad things into your life.When you do good for others, the recipients of your kindness aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits. There are a ton of perks in it for onseself too as it will increase a sense of satisfaction,make one feel great and responsible.

3. Do you think blanket ban on cow slaughter is against the tenets of the constitution? Analyse the statement and mention the arguments supporting and rejecting the statement.(GS 2) Link Introduction:-

  • Recently the centre banned the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter.
  • Recently, Gujarat amended its Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 1954 to prescribe life imprisonment for those found guilty of slaughtering cows, calves, bulls and bullocks.

No,it is in line with the tenets of the constitution:-

  • There are many states in India which have banned cow slaughter, either partially or in total, with strict penal consequences attached to it. This is done by resorting to Article 48, which is a Directive Principle of State Policy.
  • The State enactments prohibiting cow slaughter is based on Entry 15 of List II of Schedule VII of the Constitution
  • he provisions on cow slaughter are relatable to Entry 17 of List III of Schedule VII of the Constitution, which deals with prevention of cruelty to animals.

Yes,it is not constitutional:-

  • It would also be an oppression to the people who slaughter cows in sacrifices like the Moslems: even the Hindu Gurkhas of Assam sacrifice buffaloes at the time of the Durga Puja.
  • The Constituent Assembly Debates do not give us a clear picture on whether Article 48 envisages a complete ban on cow slaughter or not
  • In Hasmattullah v. State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1996 SC 2076, a bench of three-judges held that a total ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks would impose an unreasonable restriction on the fundamental rights of butchers.
  • Further, when there is a complete ban on slaughter of all cattle, it violates Article 19(1)(g). As rightly pointed out by the Supreme Court in MH Quareshi.
  • Indeed, it is often pointed out that the conditions in which the aged cattle live are extremely cruel. An artificial ban also leads to large scale smuggling of cattle.
  • It is clear that the Constitution, in Article 48, does not call for a total ban of cow slaughter but only refers to slaughter of “milch and draught cattle”.
  • Think of the millions of cows that will float round the country without any fodder, and sickly, and the amount of money that will be spent on them and the terrible burden it would be on any country.
  • Thus, the Constitution does not envisage a complete ban on slaughter of cows but only seeks to prevent or prohibit the slaughter of a particular class of cattle. To completely eliminate the consumption of beef would be unconstitutional as it would deprive sizeable section of the society of their right to consume meat of their choice.
  • Also there are other reasons :-
    • If various types of meat are permitted to be consumed, the total ban on beef was not proper.
    • Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act deals with undue pain and suffering and not with slaughtering. So it not illegal to slaughter cows.
    • Economically, as many of people have adopted (regardless of religion) business directly or indirectly associated with slaughtering of cows and other cattle i.e. meat business, leather etc. Blanket ban on slaughtering may bring huge losses to economy.
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