Driving in India!

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The following item was extracted from the travel section of a UK daily newspaper:

Travelling in India is an almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes hilarious, mostly exhilarating, always unforgettable - and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous.

Most Indian road users observe a version of the Highway Code based on an ancient text. These 12 rules of the Indian road are published for the first time in English.

ARTICLE I The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.

ARTICLE II The following precedence must be accorded at all times. In descending order, give way to: cows, elephants, heavy trucks, buses, official cars, camels, light trucks, buffalo, Jeeps, ox-carts, private cars, motorcycles, scooters, auto-rickshaws, pigs, pedal rickshaws, goats, bicycles (goods- carrying), handcarts, bicycles (passenger-carrying), dogs, pedestrians.

ARTICLE III All wheeled vehicles shall be driven in accordance with the maxim: to slow is to falter, to brake is to fail, to stop is defeat. This is the Indian drivers’ mantra.

ARTICLE IV Use of horn (also known as the sonic fender or aural amulet): Cars
(IV,1,a-c): Short blasts (urgent) indicate supremacy, ie in clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path. Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, ie to oncoming truck, “I am going too fast to stop, so unless you slow down we shall both die”. In extreme cases this may be accompanied by flashing of headlights (frantic). Single blast (casual) means “I have seen someone out of India’s 870 million whom I recognize”, “There is a bird in the road (which at this speed could go through my windscreen)” or “I have not blown my horn for several minutes.” Trucks and buses (IV,2,a): All horn signals have the same meaning, viz, “I have an all-up weight of approximately 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I could.” This signal may be emphasized by the use of headlamps (insouciant). Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II above

ARTICLE V All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive action shall be left until the last possible moment.

ARTICLE VI In the absence of seat belts (which there is), car occupants shall wear garlands of marigolds. These should be kept fastened at all times.

ARTICLE VII Rights of way: Traffic entering a road from the left has priority. So has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle. Lane discipline
(VII,1): All Indian traffic at all times and irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the centre of the road.

ARTICLE VIII Roundabouts: India has no roundabouts. Apparent traffic islands in the middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other impression should be ignored.

ARTICLE IX Overtaking is mandatory. Every moving vehicle is required to overtake every other moving vehicle, irrespective of whether it has just overtaken you. Overtaking should only be undertaken in suitable conditions, such as in the face of oncoming traffic, on blind bends, at junctions and in the middle of villages/city centres. No more than two inches should be allowed between your vehicle and the one you are passing - and one inch in the case of bicycles or pedestrians.

ARTICLE X Vaikuntha may be obtained through the head-on crash.

ARTICLE XI Reversing: no longer applicable since no vehicle in India has reverse gear.

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1 Unregistered

Crazy… but we love our India. Karuna Purna dd

Comment posted by Karuna Purna dd on December 9th, 2006
2 Akruranatha

Hilarious! Yet sadly, true. It is a gift to be able to meet the miseries of life with a fine sense of humor.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on December 10th, 2006
3 Unregistered

This article says it is extracted from a newspaper. It states the following:
ARTICLE X Vaikuntha may be obtained through the head-on crash.
Does the newspaper indeed claim this or has been edited by the devotee who posted this?
It is my humble opinion that Vaikuntha is not a cheap thing which can be easily obtained by a head-on crash.
I do agree that the traffic situation in India is not ideal. However, why post these things on Dandavats? What has a certain material situation got to do with spiritual life?
India is a holy place which Caitanya Mahaprabhu has traversed on foot. Those who do not wish to use modern means of tranportation in the service of the lord could follow His example….

Comment posted by vikram108 on December 12th, 2006
4 Akruranatha

Lighten up, Vikram. It is just a joke, not a condemnation of India.

You have to admit, modern India has lots of problems. You can laugh at those problems without feeling too defensive about them. It won’t make you unpatriotic.

Devotees from around the world all love and respect India as a holy place and the site of the Lord’s many holy pastimes. Therefore, we go there in spite of many inconveniences.

Going everywhere on foot is not practical for most of us, who have other specific duties and must go by faster means. Obviously.

(We do sometimes go on padayatra or parikrams by foot, but at some time or another we all have to risk our lives in Indian traffic, which seems strange and dangerously funny to those who are not used to it.)

It is an interesting question, though, whether a UK newspaper actually said “Vaikuntha.” If the paper really said that, I would think these UK papers are getting pretty sophisticated.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on December 12th, 2006
5 Unregistered

The modern material way of life involving the use of sophisticated technology is in widespread use today. Kali Yuga is called the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. I’ve also heard it being described as the age of Science and Technology by H. H. Bhakti Swaroop Damodara Maharaj. ISKCON devotees find themselves in situations of life where they are involved in a lifestyle which involves the use of modern means. However, this present system is under perpetual crisis and it is not clear how long and in what fashion it could be maintained. To protect our spiritual life, devotees should consider how to consciously get rid of the modern life style and live in better harmony with Krsna’s creation by cultivating a simpler life style involving the use of non sophisticated means. This would mean that our devotional life would not be dependent on the leaders of modern day society. Self sufficient devotee farm communities was one of the ideals of our founder acarya. Agreeably, devotional service is a potent force which is independent our circumstances in society, however the only viable excuse for maintaining a modern lifestyle is that of yukta-vairagya - using all the available means in the service of the lord and sharing the principles of devotional service with those around us. Constant self analysis is needed to determine whether one’s lifestyle is a modern addiction or yukta-vairagya.
Krsna conscious culture can only maintained by establishing a cow protection program. The life style devotees need to consciously cultivate is Krsna’s cow protection culture as He demonstrated in Vrindavan. By doing this the sadhaka’s internal and external meditation would become one, conflicts and strife of modern day life would be avoided and Goloka obtained.
The modern day cow slaughter houses present a great threat to the devotees’ spiritual life and it is extremely perplexing to live in a modern Western world where our mother Cow is slaughtered and eaten so mercilessly. Is this not a greater threat than insconsequential condition of roads?

Comment posted by vikram108 on December 13th, 2006
6 Unregistered

Hare Krishna! This is slightly off-subject, but it shows that the Hare Krishna movement seems to have developed the reputation of a legitimate representative of positive spiritual values in the UK. I am posting this because I found this excerpt from an article in a British car magazine (Don’t ask me what I was doing reading that!) which was discussing poor road manners. The point of this post is not to critique Indian driving patterns but rather to demonstrate that, at least in the mind of this nationally syndicated automotive writer, Hare Krishna devotees are bona-fide representatives of religion.

From Nov 2006 “EVO-the Thrill of Driving.” by Zoltan Scrivener (an article about poor road manners.)
….”Forget tougher driving tests. An intolerance of selfish behaviour drummed in at an early age has more impact on road safety than a dozen lessons or airbags. Look at how polite the Japanese and Swedish are–and look at how good their road safety stats stand. Think about it: when were you last tailgated by a bunch of nuns or CARVED UP BY A KRISHNA? (emphasis mine.)”

Comment posted by ndasa(Columbus) on December 13th, 2006
7 Unregistered

Almost 10% of the global road traffic accidents occur in India. Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of the indisciplined driving on Indian roads. Unfortunately in since 60 years since independence the authorities have failed to publish a National Highway code. Licences are given to anyone who can demonstrate an ability to use the clutch-accelerator, consequently the motoer driving schools teach just that and no more. Concepts such as - blindspots, principle of MSM, the tyre & tarmac rule, 2 second gap and most improtantly giving way are not known to the average Indian driver.

This site http://driving-india.blogspot.com/ has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training to all Indian road users. It is by far the most comprehensive website providing training in defensive driving. Learning simple road habits can make our roads safe and also free up congestion caused by traffic chaos.

At present 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. The video are unique in that the footage is real life action from streets of London. We have copied the Western habits: Replaced the dhoti with denim, high rise buildings for Indian cottages, burgers and coke instead of Indian breads and perhaps sugarcane juice. Surely we can copy the Western ways of travelling too.

To watch the videos, interested readers may visit: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

The videos cover the following topics:

Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
Video 7: Merging with the Main road
Video 8: Leaving The Main Road
Video 9: Never Cut Corners
Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule
Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
Video 14: Low beam or high beam?
Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easy
Video 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a car
Video 17: Dealing with in-car condensation

Many thanks

Comment posted by asj on November 2nd, 2007

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Post Date: Saturday, December 9th, 2006
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