Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Earthquake 2017

We've recently witnessed the tragedy related to the destruction caused by the earthquake in Nepal. An estimated 7000 people died in Nepal (official estimates are normally lower than actual numbers). The physical damage to property and infrastructure can only be imagined.

The impact of the quake with an epicentre hundreds of miles away, was felt in Delhi. Strong tremors, buildings swaying and people evacuating themsleves (in a chaotic arbitrary manner) - all of this was seen right here in Delhi. This happened because our Capital city happens to be in the earthquake  'danger zone'. This means earthquakes most likely can occur in Delhi and many other cities in North India.

Consider this - if an earthquake of intensity 7.5 happens under the surface of the Earth right underneath Delhi, about 80% of the City would be brought down. This includes most buildings in the NCR, including unauthorised and authorised constructions, high rises and so on. An estimated 8 million people would die. In short, a good part of the City and its people would be finished.

The scenario is all the more scary considering that an earthquake cannot be predicted. One wonders how many of the building designers while designing the structures even considered the likely impact of an earthquake with an epicentre under Delhi.

Most important of all, do we have a disaster management program and facilities in place to handle an event of this nature? Most likely not. Are we, as a City - that means the Government, citizens, experts etc doing anything at all to brace up for this calamity? We don't know.

Its like sitting on a time bomb, knowing it will blow on day, but not knowing when. We cannot even get up and run away.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Lawless Delhi

So we saw two instances of violence in Delhi the last two days. One resulting in murder and the other related to a police officer actually breaking the law instead of enforcing it.

In the first case a young brash teenager was accidentally knocked down by a DTC bus. The resulting road rage was of such extreme proportions and further heightened by instigation by the kid's own mother, that he violently attacked the driver in the most gruesome manner, resulting in his death. The man was in his 40s, head of his family and the bread earner.

Obviously, the kid flew into a rage virtually losing his mental balance. His intent therefore was not just to hit but to kill. His actions partly were translated from a thought process that he could teach the victim a lesson, and get away with it, in a Country which is virtually lawless.

While he has been arrested, we all know how long it will take our criminal justice system to punish the murderer.

In the second instance, a lady scooterist is attacked by a traffic police officer with a brick, because the victim refused to give in to his demand for a bribe for letting her go scot free for a traffic offence.

Not exactly a case of road rage, the second case. But certainly a manifestation of huge, growing problem within the police force.

The police force in Delhi is hugely overworked. Daily duty timings exceed 12 hours. Leave from work instead of being a right, is an unheard of luxury.
Analysis throws up and astounding fact - that if a norm of 8 hours work daily and availing leave as per entitlement was made possible, the strength of the police force would have to be augmented by a staggering 140% !

Long hours of work, under most challenging working conditions, no rest or absence from work for rest or recreation, and to top it all, the worst compensation amongst any Government job is bound to adversely affect the psyche of a policeman in the long run.

It's high time the political leadership of this Country owned moral responsibility for this malaise, and committed themselves to change the situation as manifested in the above tow cases.

Judicial reforms, a stronger, more effective law enforcement system, and finally police reforms are the immediate need. If we start work now the implementation will probably take a decade.

Or we have the choice of being a lawless Country where anyone can kill anyone else, and we become part of a jungle