Social Ones

Some thoughts on everyday social issues/observations one comes across

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Taxing roads!

Lifetime Road tax, LTT - sounds familiar, right, especially when you plan to buy a new vehicle. For starters, the tax is calculated at a little under 10% of the vehicle cost and this I believe is the tax paid for using the roads provided by the government and also for the safety and maintenance of the same.

So, there you go - buy a vehicle costing 500,000 bucks and shell out close to about 40k as tax! Paying the tax entitles you to DRIVE your vehicle on the roads provided by the government. But what the hell do you get in return - awful roads, people walking/crossing the roads, cattle, stray dogs, public processions, public functions, some unlucky towns (or cities) tongas, oh and not to mention that occasional elephant or camel! How can one ever experience a pleasurable drive on the roads - it makes me wonder why the government should impose this tax at all!

Things have anyway gone from bad to worse over the past few years, so, maybe the government should consider widening the scope of "Lifetime" tax itself. Since the roads in India are the "free for all" kinds, while registering the birth of a newborn the parents must be made to pay a certain amout as "Lifetime citizenship tax", LCT, for that kid. This will entitle the kid/citizen to - walk freely on the roads, cross the roads wherever one wants, park vehicles where one feels like, blockage of
traffic due to incorrect/uneducated driving sense is a given, participate in processions of all forms on the roads, spit and urinate on the roads wherever he/she wants, own a pet and walk the pet on the road, own a specific number of cattle (say 10 goats) and walk them freely on any road of thier choice, usage of two wheelers on pavements (footpath), setup small settlements by the roadside and utilise the roadside for cleaning vessels/washing up after food, utilise any water hand pumps to bathe on the roads, own a handcart and ply that on the road .. phew! The list is just endless!

During the course of a citizen's life, if they need additional freedom to make use of the roads, then an on the spot tax can be imposed. This could be for, say, additional cattle, digging up the road to setup temporary enclosures for any celebration etc. By paying such tax, everyone ie, vehicle owners and non owners will get a feeling of ownership of the roads. One needn't feel guilty (why am I even say this!) of having done something wrong/incorrect; afterall each person has paid for this!

Funny it may seem, this is unfortunately how roads are and are continuosuly being treated to in most places in India. Why dont people understand that roads are meant to be driven on and that too sensibly! If one wonders that education makes a difference, then maybe to some extent it could be true. But, why do these very educated ones, who flaunt all rules in India behave so civilly on the streets in a different country! Why cant each person start following simple rules, which could in turn make a difference by changing others' mindset and approach towards better living.

Having said that, it is not just we commoners who have a task at hand, but even Civic authorities and traffic coordinators who need to come up with sensible rules to make driving a pleasurable experience. For instance, quite a few roads in Bangalore were divided in such a way as to make a separate lane for autorickshaws. It will turn out to be a good move, provided it is strictly followed and drivers are disciplined enough to drive in single file on those lanes. This gives more breathing space for other two and four wheelers! My fear though, is that over a period of time, this might fall through 'cos of lack of following of this rule, which is what invariably happens in all such initiatives!

I wonder what it'll take to reverse this pathetic state of driving on our country's roads. Till then all that we can do is wait, watch and possibly do everything under our control (sensible driving, following rules) to improve the situation - Happy Driving:)