Delhi ’s ex chief minister, Sahib Singh Verma is the latest in a fairly long line politicians who have died in road accidents in recent years. Off hand, I can recall Madhav Rao Scindia, Rajesh Pilot, Lok Sabha Speaker Balayogi, Haryana Minister, O.P.Jindal and former President Giani Zail Singh. Then of course there are many, many more who sustain injuries and there names are too numerous to recount. However Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee is a name one can recall from very recent times.

It makes me wonder why is it that politicians are so vulnerable to accidents and collisions. Do they have some particular kind of death wish that bewitches them? Or is it that they are happening all the time and to every body – it is just that we get to hear about them only when a celebrity, particularly a politician passes away this way. Or is that their lives and tragically their deaths represent the collective wish of the times – wanting to be every where and all at once at the very same time and because that elusive quality called omniscience is reserved only to deity, the closest one can grasp that impossible gift is by revving up faster, faster and even more faster — a morbid distortion of the Olympic motto -Citius, Altius, Fortius” (faster, higher, stronger).

Except that Baron Pierre de Coubertin , the Father of the Olympic Movement had a different scenario in mind as he wrote up this immortal motto. His creed was” “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” That final bit – that participating in life – be it in an election or in a sport or in any thing else at all is not necessarily about winning but about having taken part and fought well has been all but forgotten. While the Baron’s creed was certainly a call to leave unnecessary mediocrity far behind and pursue excellence, the cut throat dog eat dog chase of speed and achievement was not what he had in mind.

But by no means am I saying that it is the politicians alone who have the ambition and the hurry and the desire to be omniscient. There is always a Salman Khan or an Alistair Pereira or the trucker on the other side on the other side of the road, also in a tearing hurry to get some where. He too has his ambitions, plans and dreams and visions of omnificence. The politician and his convoy. The trucker and his tired bones, coming from difference sides of the fence clash, collide and self destruct.
The road rage phenomena which is increasing in India is a fast track to death and destruction. Road rage is scary. Why do seemingly normal people succumb to such antisocial hostile behavior? Hostile behavior like screaming abuse, fist shaking, making obscene gestures, flashing lights, tailgating, getting out of one’s vehicle to another person’s vehicle and banging, knocking on the windows and yelling insults. Such hostility only invokes more terrible hostility. And violence always begets violence.

In India, the main causes of road rage are drivers who drive in the wrong direction (64%), drivers who jump queues (61%), people who honk too much (57%) and aggressive driving (57%). Another significant cause of annoyance for Indian drivers is “traffic light jumpers” (51%). And in a dubious distinction for the national capital, Delhi was ranked highest for having the most number of ‘worst drivers’. “Indians who have driven in other cities were asked which city they think has the worst drivers. Top of the list is Delhi, selected by 32%. Bangalore comes in second place with 16% and in third place is Kolkata (12%),”

How do we remain gentle amidst this kind of hostility and violence? By reminding ourselves that we live in a world that still needs civil and courteous behavior. A wave, a smile, a bit of generosity and chivalry on your part, will bond good drivers together and create role models. There are of course other means too. Leaving homes twenty minutes earlier makes all the difference to our nerves when we are caught in heavy traffic. If we are being tailgated, we can change lanes and allow the person to pass. If someone wants to pass, slow down and let them do so. If someone makes obscene gestured, don’t return them. Stay behind the person who is angry at all costs (they can do less damage if we are behind them) If necessary, we can always pull off the road or take an exit and let them go on by. Some one has to give in and allow life to flow. Or else, today’s death will be tonight’s breaking news and tomorrow’s headline as Sahib Singh Verma’s unfortunate accident was.

Be Sociable, Share!