Don’t Panic

How good intentions in India often remain just that

Take Delhi.  A city with one of the most notorious reputations for women’s safety.  And where auto-rickshaws have for years harried and hassled passengers by overcharging, taking the long and wrong way round, or simply abducting them.

So on to 2012.  When the authorities decide enough is enough, and instruct all auto-rickshaws to install meters that incorporate a GPS facility and a panic button.  This will help track the vehicle, they said.  It will offer customers printouts that will help them confirm that the route taken had been the correct one, they said.  And most importantly, it will offer an emergency signalling system, they said.

Criticisms that the tender process was flawed and that the meters were subsequently over-priced?
No worries.
Criticisms that nobody was actually printing out these maps?
No worries.
Investigations which had found that nobody was actually monitoring the vehicles?
No worries.

Of course, in their wisdom, the authorities insisted that the meters be facing the customer.  Y’know, so they could monitor the fare and also have instant access to the panic button. Which meant instant paranoia on the part of the drives, kyun ki aisa hain saab, koi log itne haraami hain ki fare ka button reset kar dete hain, aur bacche-kucche jo hain na, woh button ke saath khelne lagte hain.

Which is why today if you sit in an auto-rickshaw in Delhi, you will see meters like this.  All secure and locked up behind a metal cage.  Which includes the panic button, which is meant to be instantly accessible.

… this is what they call ghelchodia-level fuckwittery.

don't panic

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