Legacies of a shortage economy?

Posted: November 7, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I have mellowed on the road. LOL..

I fret a lot less now, about traffic snarls. Most of which are caused by crazy driving. I have reconciled to things being the way they are, and stopped stressing my blood pressure. At least on that count!


But that does not stop me from wondering “why”?!

Why is there such a mad rush to not let go of that 1 inch of space that gets created? Why is it that, as you wait for your signal to change from red to green, you are already sneaking ahead, one cm at a time, and of couse, want to be just that little ahead of the vehicle next to you? Why would there be just so often, total deadlocks, at a 4-way traffic signal, because vehicles kept going way after their signal had turned red, and others whose signal became green, also started simultaneously?

Are we all in such a tearing hurry?

Are we all so-so-busy that those 30 seconds extra will mean huge losses of cash or kind?

Is ours a country on a high speed conveyor belt and all the people on the roads are in a rush to get work done, so the blistering pace of growth can be maintained?

Guess not, right?!

So why then? This fierce competitiveness on the roads??

Is it then because of illiteracy? Lack of education means lesser understanding and awareness about respect of rules?

I would not say so. For the misbehavior, if I may be permitted to use that word, is not just from the truck or auto rickshaw drivers, but it is also from those driving fancy vehicles, where education can be assumed to be there.

So lack of education cannot be considered as a reason for this mess.

The only thing that I can think of is: our genes!

Our internal programming, coming from our forefathers through the genes, is about grabbing what is in front of you, because it may not be there later. The legacies of the shortage economy that our country had, years back.

When there was a waiting list for a car, for a Bajaj scooter, for a telephone connection, for a gas cylinder, when cinema tickets were not available and had to be purchased in “black”, when our country borrowed money, and asked for food grants, etc. etc.

The young amongst you readers might wonder about what under developed country I am talking about. Rest assured, these stories are all about India. And most of which I have seen myself (which yes, makes me feel little older, but I am not that old, and these are not that ancient tales 🙂 ).

So those days, if you managed to get a phone allocation, you will do what it takes to grab it, before someone else takes it up. If Premier Automobiles got kind and gave you a car, you will beg, borrow or steal, but you will not let go of that allotment. And so on.

So it is this genetic factor that we inherited.

And which is why we fight. We do not stand in queues, if we can find our way from the side, to the front. We take an inch if we see one available. We put our hanky on the empty seat in the train (well, that is one thing that is STILL in shortage!) to put our hold on it.

So how can roads be different? Even if the road is not going away anywhere, and there is ample of it for all vehicles out there, we are programmed to not take any chances! Just get it first. Before someone else stakes a claim.

So now if you “understand” the reasons behind the chaos on the roads, perhaps you will be more tolerant?

And also understand that it may take a few generations before these legacies are lost from our being. Till then, enjoy the ride on the Indian roads.. 🙂

  1. Naimish says:


    Interesting rationale! I would tend to agree that past programming does have something to do with the chaos on the roads. But, while that may be the genesis, the solution does not lie in waiting for the legacy to be lost from our genes.

    I believe, that the chaos has sustained, or even aggravated due to factors which could have been controlled. A combination of carrot and stick can improve matters considerably – given good road conditions to enable people to drive well… and combined with a stringent check on errant drivers can make a big difference. There is also lack of awareness on ‘traffic rules and discipline’ among most drivers. A look at the casual process of giving the driver’s license is testimony to the lack of attention given to traffic rules. I hope its ok to quote your post on my blog http://roadsandrides.blogspot.com, where I am writing a more detailed assessment.


    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Appreciate your views. Reality I think is that things will not change on many of those fronts, dramatically. Its like talking about corruption or population issues. They are just there. And any wish to see those disappear are just that – wishes. On the best and biggest of roads, we see people driving on the wrong side of the road. And in terms of putting more police to manage this – we’d need to dramatically increase the size of the force. And then there is the corruption bit.

      But will love to read your detailed views. Sure, please go ahead and quote this on your blog!

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