Death by wheels
We sincerely hope crossing streets won’t be as hazardous as flying a warplane in 2014. Mumbai has seen several hundred deaths in hit-and-run cases in 2013 where rash drivers have mowed down innocent people and walked away with short jail terms. Whereas had the drivers been convicted under Section 302 (murder), they would have at least been given a life term in prison. Yes, the law has listed a punishment for the crime, but it also is very unfair to the deceased (and their family) that the person who crushed him/her to death can walk free in a matter of five years. A case in point is Nooriya Haveliwala, who walked away with a five-year prison term after mowing down two people including a police sub inspector. Elements of the underworld and supari killers could just take the benefit of this law by using a vehicle to eliminate their targets. At most they could be awarded a prison term of 10 years. Plus there is no need to acquire an expensive firearm or attract the penalty for possessing one. While activists are out on the streets trying to change several other laws, this one really needs to be looked at with immediate effect. We hope that 2014 will be a safer year to cross the streets. But would we bet our money on a law that promises tough and immediate action in rash driving cases? Truth is often stranger than fiction, so who knows!
Walkalators on skywalks
Maximum City’s majority commuters shall walk no more. They will merely stand still and let the travellators (also kown as walkalators) do the walking. Come 2014 and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will finally realise the folly of spending crores of rupees in constructing a series of skywalks across the city that connect important railway stations to major arterial roads. The purpose of the skywalks was to allow Mumbaiites to avoid the bustling traffic down below and not step in the way of a car. However, the skywalks have failed to serve their purpose and have instead turned into awesome lodging for street urchins and squatters. The view is brilliant and with free non-stop breeze to keep the lodger at ease, the skywalks have turned into another footpath albeit in the air.
But hey, we want our skywalks back, and the best way to add footfalls on the skywalk is to install walkalators on all the skywalks. This is because; Mumbaiites are always in a hurry to get somewhere and the walkalators will get them there. So, if someone out there is listening, please drop the idea of installing escalators and instead give us our skywalks back -- armed with walkalators.
Bottom pinching, molestation and sexual overtures have long been associated with large metal-based elevators in public and private establishments. Taking advantage of the crowd inside an elevator, a pervert usually takes his chances by copping a feel or even brushing up inappropriately. Now with the use of a little technology a safeguard can be worked out. Sometime in 2014 expect the arrival of an electronic tazer, fitted to the skirt, which can prove to be a shocking deterrent for such perverts. As soon as the molester touches the woman’s skirt, he gets a high-voltage shock that leaves the culprit stunned or makes him unconscious, whichever may happen first.
Alcohol detecting ignition switch
Here is one invention that really needs to be put on the street this year -- an alcohol detector in every car. This simply means if one has had too much to drink, and if the vehicle detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, it refuses to start. We have seen thousands of cases of drunk drivers committing fatal mistakes after they have downed a few drinks and take the wheel. Drunk drivers are a threat to pedestrians, motorists as well as to themselves. The traffic department’s initiative to test and nab drunk drivers and punish them have had some effect. However, the number of cases has increased in the past few years. This invention is really the need of the hour to keep drunk drivers from our roads.
Thou shall not sue my parents
Dowry has been a menace that has plagued our society for centuries. Over the years, with the rising number of harassment cases and even dowry deaths, the Parliament passed a criminal law in 1983 that a woman’s dowry complaint is a non-bailable offence. IPC Section 498A, allows a woman to lodge an FIR and have her husband, her parents and any other relative arrested on charges of dowry harassment. This law is very stringent and does not allow the accused the liberty of bail -- which means that the groom, his parents will languish in jail until the case comes up in court and the accused are proven as innocent. The law was made to protect the oppressed but the tables have been turned now. Our bet is that in 2014, keeping an eye on this section, marriage contracts will include a clause stating: ‘Thou shalt not sue me or my parents under Section 498A. For better or for worse’.
Spit and spend night in jail
No matter how hard the authorities try; spitting is one menace that Mumbai has not been able to control. Paan stains, gutka marks and vociferous ejection of saliva across the city are sights Mumbaiites have grown used to. Currently, a fine of R200 is levied on a person caught spitting in a public place. But what we really need in 2014 is for spitters to spend time behind bars to curtail this offensive and unhygienic habit. Nations in the Middle East have managed to keep their streets clean by imposing harsh punishments of paan spitting offenders, and that is exactly what we need in India too. A law that sends a spitter directly to jail. What we need is a creative director somewhere to come up with a slogan such as ‘Spit here and spend two nights, three days in a jail near you’. Here’s hoping for a cleaner, healthier, safer Mumbai in 2014.