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Driven up the wall

Rajasee Bhattacharya

Team I am government

In a recent development, the 2019 Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill was presented in the Parliament by Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways. This bill aims to substantially increase the penalisation and the detention period in various cases of traffic rule violation. The said bill has been passed in Lok Sabha and awaits its advancing at the Rajya Sabha.

There is yet another decision of imposing monetary penalty as well as a three years term of imprisonment on executives of companies in case of failure in compliance with the mandated Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).

This may come across as a promisingly sturdy step to take in curbing the trend of traffic rule violation, however, a deeper insight into the same show that it is philosophically erred at a fundamental level that'll only lead to the increase of the opportunities of other social menaces.

To begin with, in a realistic scenario, for instance, an Indian middle-class person who has bought a four-wheeler by getting a loan and is paying an EMI of a preposterously high amount from an income of a fixed salary cannot be expected to pay a fine as exorbitantly high as five thousand rupees for driving without a licence. The prospective alternative, in that case, becomes an underhand settlement. It, therefore, will be leading up to an increased level of corrupt practices.

On the other hand, the imposition of such rigorous laws on corporate executives upon failure to fulfill certain schemes which were essentially introduced to encourage welfare based approach in the profit oriented corporate world is going to lead to an excess of surveillance in every strand of financial decision made by the companies.

It's needless to mention the fact that this is not at all the way to eradicate an issue from its core, in fact quite the opposite. To introduce such high stakes against basic instances of violation of laws leads to a superficial sense of satisfaction suggesting that the problem has been dealt with.

But really, is the issue quite about the violation of law? I say it's about the absence of the channelisation of conscience in the right direction where the citizen is conscious of the greater good of the society. This means that there is a short-sightedness regarding the prospects that can actually prove to be the key to social progressiveness.

Michael Foucault, in his work "History of sexuality" (vol. I, II, III), does imply that the disciplinary regime tends to appropriate subjects that impacts the citizens as a blanket rule to make laws on. This is a method of ensuring a holistic devouring of all the people completely and regulating them. But at least there must be some silver lining even to such rules.

Having said that, it's pertinent to get to the part where I propose some alternate approaches to this. Let there be a trend of making provisions for sensitisation and not punishments. The schemes such as "Swachh Bharat" may be far from its ideal state of success, but it is experiencing a promising rate of success due to the largescale encouragement on the subject by the Prime Minister.

Such similar schemes must be brought forward where there's large scale and repeated drilling down of the right thing to do until it is deeply internalised by the society as a whole. The social trend has to turn into instinctively abiding by the rules and not breaking them.

The role we can play as citizens to bring about such a change in social trend is to become self-aware. We must educate ourselves about the general rules that exists in the fronts that we cover in our daily lives. Additionally, we must abide by them without failure. The only excuse that we should allow ourselves is the absence of the knowledge of a law.

Furthermore, we have to become a society that encourages others to abide by the laws every single time we are presented with opportunities to inform or point out about it. We must strive to reach a level where the general trend of the citizen's response to laws is of adherence of the laws.

The answer is not throwing jail time and punishments at problems. Societies must take steps to changing the very culture of problem solving as a whole.

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