Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Operation Lion Claw.

The influx of MNCs and lucrative jobs in and around Pune, and the high payoff they bring has transformed this sleepy relaxed town to a city of hustle and bustle. New high skilled employees are flocking into the city all the time driving up prices of everything-especially retail. I have nothing against this migration or price rise, or development- if skilled and cultured people are moving into the city. However, I do have 2 issues which can trace its roots to the IT bubble
1) Thanks to the large influx of people having little cultural ties with the city, migrating into the city, the Queen of Deccan is losing its earstwhile charm. Pu Las famous lines on being a Punekar- "चक चक, पूर्वीचं पुणे उरलं नाही/आमच्या वेळी हे असलं नव्हतं" applies in every sense. While for a societal point of view, it is always good to have a dynamically evolving society, the evolving society necessarily should not translate to change in culture. Pune is becoming like any other north indian city. This definitely was not the case till a few years back. I love the relaxed life one can live here. The food, the attitude of people, the frankness in giving an opinion- are all cherished traits which are all disappearing, and this is detrimental to maintaining the uniqueness of the city. Immigrants should be made aware of the culture of the city, and they should follow it- Its not Mumbai for gods sake! (PS- I was shocked to listen to Hindi on Vetal Tekdi last sunday- now that is definitely a first!)

The second big big problem I have is increased traffic. Earlier "kopryavarach ahe, 2 minitat yeto" actually meant I will reach in 2 minutes. Not the case now. Horrendous traffic jams, long waiting time at signals, and on top of that, haphazard developmental works carried by PWD of Pune MNC. Seriously, the people who are given contracts to build roads seem like the thickest ever individuals- Not even bothering to remove the existing layer of tar before putting the new surface. Thats another story though.  What really pisses me off is the lack of respect for traffic rule, and in general a sense of driving. I dont know how half of the people who drive vehicles become eligible to drive? If we take a basic test on road signs and what you are expected to do, 80 percent will probably fail. I simply do not understand the problem. What is the need to rush and go ahead when the signal is still red? It being red has some logic! still these people want to rush their vehicles ahead of every one else, half way into the crossing, violating all rules. What are 3 seconds going to do? घाई केली नाही तर काय चड्डीत जुलाब होणार आहेत का? These days I shout at random people trying to break traffic lights- "काय हो, संडसाला जायची घाई लागलेली दिसते तुम्हाला." or other such sarcastic comments. Some stop. But most of the remaining have such thick skulls that they dont even understand the sarcasm.

The other issue with traffic violations is breaking one ways. For gods sake, the one way has been made to ease traffic. You do not need to go wrong way and create more chaos. Some idiotic rikshaw drivers even drive wrong way in the fast lane of Karve road and Paud road. WTF! "रस्ता काय तुझ्या तीर्थरूपांनी तुझी धिंड काढायला बनवला आहे का? व्यवस्थित चालव ना गाडी!" On top of all this, reckless driving to save a few seconds. "स्वतःचा जीव धोक्यात घालताच, इतरांचा कशाला? नसती खाज" Oh and the extent to which these people will go to save petrol. (going wrong way and all). If you cant afford petrol, get a cycle or use the bus.

There has to be a solution to this problem. Discipline must be inculcated in vehicle users of all kinds in Pune. No exceptions. Bapacha rasta aslya sarakhe chalavnare khup zale ahet. Ani bhayanak maajale aahet. There is only one way in which it can be done. Hit where it hurts the most. In Pune, it means a three pronged assault on the ego, time and wallet.

The first front- attack their ego for instant reaction and hope they stop. pass comments if someone tries to break traffic rules as you wait at the traffic lights. or overtake someone who is driving like a rowdy, and verbally hit him hammer nails and tongs.Punekars have this inborn quality of sarcasm which can be put to a devastating use in such scenarios. You just have to activate the sarcasm switch in you.
"काय हो, कर्वे, हॉस्पिटलमध्ये बेडचा advance भरलाय म्हणून अशी गाडी चालवताय का हो?"
"तुमच्याकडे बघून तुमचं नाव जगली महाराज असेल असे वाटत नाहीये."
"गाडी अंगणात चालवताय का हो?"
The list goes on and on and on. It  deters a few people from breaking rules, sensible people amongst the rule breakers.

The second front is attack on time. There is a good reason why Punekars dont do anything between 1-4. Go out during this time and you will know why. Take offenders who have been caught by the police to chowks having heavy traffic and pollution, absolutely no shade, make them wear half tshirts and shorts, give them one a single bottle of water, and tell them to man the signal for 4 hours- all in afternoon. Its torture, but I guess it will be effective. Political clout should not affect this. Tomorrow if the MP from Pune breaks a rule and is caught, he serves the same punishment. Complete uniformity, no vashila. No bailing out from the punishment. You go soft and they take advantage. So hit them hard. They should think twice before breaking rules.

The third front, is to hurt people where it really really hurts- their pockets. Police take fines and people are okay to pay 200-500 rupees, but still do not follow rules- especially stopping at traffic lights and venturing into one ways. A possible solution is to introduce a pressure triggered system of sharp claw like objects which activate when a signal turns red, or is activated on the side of the road going into a one way.Any vehicle which fails to obey the rules will have its tyres punctured. Im sure the police are intelligent enough to establish their own puncture removing shops in the vicinity of these installations, and studying the puncture wounds on the tubes, subject the offenders to attack #2 as well as levy a hefty fine on them. It was a general thought of how this pressure sensor based trigger mechanism would work. The engineer inside me took over, and looked to nature as inspiration, and I saw lion claws as a possible solution.


To those who are unfamiliar with how a lions claws work, Id like to tell that when a lion runs, it has its claws fully retracted. Protected inside a sheath. When the lion goes on an attack mode, its claws instantaneously spring out, and latch on to the prey. the faster the prey tries to escape, the more entrenched the claws become inside it. Here is a short video of how the lions claws work:

The same can be used in case of traffic violators. The signal /motion/pressure triggered claws activate when a vehicle is about to break a rule, rip open its tyres- which means that the offender has to pay huge amounts of money for getting the repairs done. The police can install their own service stations a few meters ahead of where the effect on the tyres will be felt. Analysing the tear patterns, it is easy to deduce whether the person coming for servicing his vehicle is an offender, if he is an offender, repair his car, but charge him extra- and large sums for violating traffic rules, and subject him to sarcastic jibes as well as the heat torture punishment. This will definitely deter people from breaking rules, and Pune traffic would be much more smoother.

More work on how the design of this claws can be done, what material would be needed to make it break resistant and corrosion resistant needs to be looked at. Secondly, since lion claws are the inspiration, a system of actuators which would instantly enagage offenders needs to be developed- we have a few microseconds before the pressure is detected and the claws are put into action. All these technical aspects of the idea really fascinate me. On top of it all, the fact that if put into use, it will make Pune better, is even more encouraging. Let us see what comes out of this. If it happens, well and good. My skills as an engineer are up for a real test if im to go ahead with this!

One a side note- the corporators in Pune should have a spike soled shoe smacked on their back side for the pathetic and haphazard infrastructure projects within the city- especially roads and public transport. really pathetic. Its time we punekars took things in our own hands and restore the glory days of the city.  

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