Corruption in the judiciary is often discussed in private, but we need a larger public debate. The media has exposed undercurrents subtly, to avoid contempt of court. There has been non-application of mind or error of judgement at times in the passing of orders. The elevation of Jagdish Bhalla as chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh high court and the process of making 351 additional judges permanent between January 1999 and July 2007 also raise questions about extraneous factors in the functioning of the judiciary. The onus is on citizens and the media to do their bit for ensuring the judiciary is made transparent and accountable. This is important as citizens have reposed tremendous faith in the judiciary. This will ensure the other pillars of democracy (the legislature and the executive) don’t deteriorate, something that will cause lawlessness and anarchy.
Your edit, “Tolls and traffic troubles”, Mint, 5 February, was very interesting, especially the part about traffic forecasts being off the mark. Being a transportation planner, with experience in forecasting traffic for many highway projects, this caught my attention. For now, I will try to address the question: What should be done to smoothen traffic on the expressway?
The curative approach to ease traffic problems on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway requires synchronized actions from both the toll road developer and users.
Toll road developers need to: 1. Install proper signs at the toll booth and at a few locations leading to the toll booth for assignment of toll plaza lanes by vehicle type. Lane assignment display signs can be put on the side of the roadway 1-5km in advance of the toll plaza. The individual toll booth operation speeds up greatly if it does not get a mix of vehicles.
2. Install proper signage at the toll booth and at a few locations leading to the toll booth for the toll amount. Add signage that displays the benefits of providing correct change.
3. Provide customer service phone numbers on displays leading to the toll plaza with statements urging users to call them in case of any problems and not argue with the toll operator.
4. Carry newspaper advertisement campaigns in the region to educate users in toll culture.
Raising the cash toll is a solution, but such a solution can create political problems. It’s important to make the process of acquiring a smart card (or tag) fast and easy. Online/telephone/mail application, these with home delivery can be added.
I feel the toll plaza users are equally at fault; this compounds the problem. It is time highway users understood and acquired the toll-plaza culture. To begin with, they need to realize that the success of a toll plaza is dependent on the efficiency of each and every vehicle and that there are others waiting behind. Two, they need to carry the exact change to the toll booth and keep it handy so that it can be reached in a split of a second. Finally, they should not argue with the toll operator because it stops the traffic and makes the operator less efficient. If there is a problem, the tollway authorities should be contacted. The booth operator cannot help.
- Bhuwan Agrawal
G.V.L. Narasimha Rao had predicted 115 seats for Modi in the Gujarat polls in Mint. Modi won 117 seats. Rao congratulated himself in his subsequent column on 24 December. He deserves congratulations for his insight. But his reasons for Modi’s win may raise eyebrows. He lists these as (i) integrity, honesty and unbending leadership; (ii) Modi’s macho image turning him into a folk hero; (iii) the widely held belief that the Modi-led government achieved more than what the Congress did in 45 years; and (iv) Modi’s refusal to practise populism. A different analysis is possible. Modi won by default. The Congress lacks vision. Rao’s jumping to conclusions may tantamount to justifying Modi’s autocratic functioning and stopping the state from quelling disturbances. How can Rao forget the killing of the innocent and the defenceless in Gujarat? Does he want a repeat of Hitler?
- Prithvi Raj Gulati