Start of another journey – Rural Shores!

I left home at 5:00 to catch a bus to Bhiloda. Why am I going to this small town located 130 kms from Ahmedabad near the Rajasthan border? I’ll be working as a summer intern at Rural Shores, a Rural B.P.O which is one of its kind in the world. A colleague is waiting for me at the bus station however the bus leaves earlier than I had expected and I  miss it by 5 minutes. As there won’t be any other bus to the city before 7 am I take a bus to Himatnagar the headquarters of Sabarkantha district situated 84 kms from Ahmedabad where the town is located. Sabarkantha district is located in northern Gujarat touching the Rajasthan border. I reach Himatnagar on time but have to wait for an hour and a half for the bus to Bhiloda.

After travelling 50 kms from Himatnagar I finally arrive at Bhiloda. It is a typical small town of Gujarat. It is located on plains but you can see some mountains in the background. It is much cleaner than Kadiri and has proper roads. The bus station is in the center of the city. The bus station is surrounded by markets covered with umbrella shades. My office is located at a 2 min walking distance from the bus station. It is in a residential area and you won’t be able to recognize the office at first as it is located on top of a house! As I enter the office and record my entry in the register, I notice the existence of bio metric technology. The employees have secured cards which lets them enter the office after recording their attendance. Now I know why they say that the technology is entering the rural areas of our country ;). As soon as you enter the office you’re engulfed in the clatter of keyboards. It’s the kind of noise you hear in the Bourne movies when they show the agents working their way towards another unsuccessful attempt at capturing Bourne at the CIA office! Well for us, it is the village folks typing their way towards success at Rural Shores!
The workplace consists of a large hall. It has a security cabin, the Center Manager’s cabin & a UPS & Server room apart from an arrangement of computer desks which can seat 60 agents at once. The agents are engaged in processes such as data digitization of customer application forms, processing of invoices, sms call back to customers and so on. Its the kind of work which they can do easily. On one corner of the workplace there is a process manager guiding his associates on the white board about the new project their team would be taking up. On the other corner there is the center manager taking feedback from an associate on the error diagnosis they did the previous day. Its a typical office like environment and everybody is busy in their work. The working hours are between 7 am in the morning and 12 at night depending on the processes the agents are involved in.

I’m staying at a place couple of meters from the office. It is a large (can fit in 4-5 people easily) & well furnished room. The comforts of my room are further enhanced by the uninterrupted electricity supply (well its Gujarat!). The only thing that is missing is an air conditioner which could have made it a five star accommodation! I put my luggage in the room and go back to my office. There I take a computer desk near the window, open my laptop and begin my 2 month journey at Rural Shores Bhiloda center!

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Why Indian roads are the world’s most unsafest

Today morning I hit the Ahmedabadi road after a long time. I went for a medical checkup which is necessary for meeting the admission requirements of my new college. It was 9 am in the morning and the office rush was at its peak. When I reached the Shivranjini Char Raasta lights there was a bus standing just in front of all the two wheelers. It was moving with the flow of the traffic and just after 500 m distance there was a bus stop. The bus stopped all of the sudden at the bus stop and the heavy traffic just behind the bus came to a screeching halt. It was a terrible ordeal for me as I was right behind the bus and had I not slammed my brakes on time I would have smashed into the back of the bus! This close encounter made me realize once again how dangerous the Indian roads are for its own drivers.

More people are killed on the Indian roads than anywhere else in the world thus making them the world’s most dangerous. This adds up to the threat level to one’s existence in our country.
There are plenty of reasons why the Indian roads are dangerous for its own citizens. Here I’ve compiled the following reasons:

1. Traffic rules are not followed strictly by the people.
2. Negligence in traffic management by the traffic cops.
3. Bad roads.
4. Encroachment of roads by hawkers, fruit sellers, small roadside stalls and other such shops.
5. Width of road not good enough to accommodate the density of traffic at many places.
6. Bad vehicle maintenance.

Explanation:

1. Traffic rules are not followed by the people in a strict manner:
Many drivers in India don’t give much importance to the traffic rules. They won’t think twice before driving on the wrong side of the road, over speeding, not stopping for the pedestrians while they’re crossing the roads, parking cars on the zebra crossing when waiting on the traffic signal, not stopping on the red light etc. Almost half the traffic accidents can be reduced if the rules are strictly followed by the people. Children should be stressed upon the importance of following the traffic rules right from their primary schools. That’s the time when they’re usually travelling by bus or by whatever means and by learning the rules at this stage will help remember them for a long time. Punishments for breaking traffic rules should be made stricter. Besides taking a hefty fine the driving license of the defaulter should be withheld for a particular period of time say for eg 3 months and in that time the driver should be ordered to learn the traffic rules all over again. After the expiry of the 3 month suspension he should be made to write a traffic exam once again before being given the license back. He shouldn’t be given his license back till he clears the test again.

2. Negligence in traffic management by the cops:
Traffic cops should be much stricter while managing the traffic. They shouldn’t just focus on collecting the fine but should also make sure the driver is made realize his/her mistake. The traffic police should be equipped with proper equipments to assist it in doing the same. They should also be provided small rooms for resting after doing the duty in scorching heat. Usually, because of the heat factor and other extreme climatic conditions like rain etc the efficiency of traffic cops in India decreases as they’re directly exposed to it without any protection on the streets. Japan provides oxygen rooms to its cops which are usually situated on the road sides. Such small rooms/cabins must be provided.

3. Bad Roads:
Indian bad roads are hard to define. Firstly, there are no roads at all at many places. Secondly, the roads which have somehow been constructed are badly maintained. Also, after rains we see that the upper layer of the roads get damaged easily because of the use of cheap materials or that the final protective layer is missing. Once that damage take place the authorities usually cover the damage up by putting another layer of tar on that particular road without paying attention to the fact that the additional layer hasn’t been synchronised properly with the existing level of the road and thus increasing the level of the road and making it uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous to drive on high speeds. Sometimes the lump is really big. Pot holed roads are very common and they aren’t repaired for months apart. Bad roads mean excessive breaking. Excessive breaking on high speeds can be fatal. This is one of the most important reasons for the high accident rate on the roads together with the non-compliance of the traffic rules by the people.

4. Encroachment of roads by vegetable vendors/hawkers etc:
This is a serious issue in our country. The hawkers encroach the roadsides and thus make the road shorter for vehicles to drive on. They also take over the parking spaces constructed for parking near big shopping junctions and create huge traffic problems during the weekends and peak hours. All these makes the roads very congested and unsafe for commuting. When the existing parking places are taken over by hawkers, people have to resort to parking the cars on the road sides where the parking is prohibited and thus adding to the space problems.

5. Insufficient width of the road:
The width of the road is not enough at many roads. It seems that the roads are not constructed keeping the density of traffic in mind. There are strips of roads that can hardly accommodate two cars at the same time despite being a two lane road. Also, a narrow road is a nightmare if it is also the path of a local bus. Imagine a bus stopping at a bus stop right in the middle of traffic. From my personal experience I can tell you that this is pretty scary!

6. Bad vehicle maintenance:
Bad vehicle maintenance leads to more chances of accidents. The brakes, accelerators, steering wheels, tyres, engine etc should be regularly checked by a qualified person. These are the major components that are handled directly by the driver and thus these needs to be in perfect working conditions. The air pressure of the tyres should be checked every week and should be maintained at the specified levels. The brakes should be in proper working condition. All these little checks can do wonders. They will not only ensure a safety but also give you a comfortable ride.

7. Underage Driving:
Underage driving is a big failure of the traffic administration. It has been noted that majority of rash driving and rule breakers are underage drivers. Students as young as 13 years of age are zipping through the traffic these days. Such leniency on the part of their parents will only lead to fatality. Parents are ignoring the big fact that by letting their young ones ride the scooter they are not only tightening the noose around their own children’s neck but also making roads unsafe for other motorists. Traffic police needs to get stricter with the drivers.

The biggest threat to India right now is not Pakistan, not Global Warming and not the Naxalites but the roads which kill more people for no reason at all everyday. We just need to follow these small and simple steps to curb this menace and be a bit more responsible to our fellow citizens. It will not only work wonders but will also help save innocent lives daily. So, let’s strive to follow the traffic rules and start the process of making our roads much more safer for everyone of us. We need to initiate this as it’ll be us who’ll benefit from this whole process.