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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Dialogue and Brake Lights

"Grumpy John", my travelling companion in the chocolate powered lorry we drove to Timbuktu, introduced me to a great car game. Road Kill Bingo. Everyone chooses an animal and each time you see a dead one in the road you get a point. I didn’t know that John had been conducting a little survey before we started playing and by going for donkeys I had no chance of beating him with camels or cows in West Africa.

In Rajasthan stray dogs would be the game winner for sure.

The back of trucks are emblazoned with the phrase “Use Dipper at Night” and various other safety instruction to following motorists, but few truck have working rear lights, and those that do are largely obscured by ornate metalwork grids to protect them. In traffic it’s a rare but relaxing bonus if the truck in front has working brake lights, otherwise full concentration is required to check for the unpredictable stops it might make.

The Pune blast in the German Bakery 2 months ago claimed 16 lives, all tragic and unnecessary losses of course, but I bet more than that die each week in avoidable road traffic accidents on the 200km Mumbia-Pune Expressway.

The terrorism fear though is so that every move Pakistan makes is diligently documented in the Indian press, to the point where I know more about what Pakistani ministers are doing, than Indian ones are (embezzling the IPL cricket money). The average Indian is more likely to be the victim of a fatal car accident that a terrorist attack, yet the newspapers aren’t full of campaigns against bad drivers, or poorly maintained vehicles, which cause avoidable deaths.

I share this idea, that the anger and venom reserved for Pakistan would be better directed at erratic drivers with Chetan, a fellow paraglider and retired media sales executive. He launches into one about Pakistan’s malevolent intentions, and how they manipulate the tap of terror to obtain political concessions. All the more reason not to give shoddy stunts like the Pune bomb the credibility it doesn’t deserve.

Technically speaking (from a military point of view) it was a lousy attack, a small blast, a soft target, probably carried out by 2 or 3 village kids from some backwater hicksville, too dumb to recognise the indoctrination and perversion of Islam their handlers have given them.

By responding with the derision it deserves the media could undermine the political influence of such an attack. Instead they launch into it and propagate it with outraged stories of a Muslim Indian tennis player marrying a Pakistani cricketer, decried as betrayal instead of heralded as a symbol of the potential for unity.

Dialogue with Pakistan will yield peace, just as antagonism will yield more attacks, but working brake lights would prevent even more deaths than Indo-Pak talks.

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