Three months after the tamilnadu government framed the rule for mandatory wearing of helmet for both the rider and pillion of two wheelers in the state, it came on to effect on June 1, 2007. Of course there were people who welcomed the move and people who protested against. But what followed after a day of enforcement of the law was such a bad scene for a government. The last week of May saw good amount of crowd in all the helmet shops and the thousand lights place in mount road which is famous for helmet shops had good business going. Separate queues, policemen were in place to control the last minute crowd.
When the government clearly said that everyone including women and children who sit at the backseat need to wear helmet, the middle class people who generally do not disobey laws shelled out close to 4K to purchase helmets; assuming a family of four. While helmets of different sizes were available for men, women and especially children found it difficult to get one for their head size. And a helmet of wrong size doesnt help the cause and would turn damn uncomfortable under the scorching sun at 40 degrees. But then most of them managed to one as the dawn would see traffic constables collecting huge fines for people without helmets.
When I turned on the television on June 1, the regional news channel was showing clips where traffic police were collecting fines on the early hours from people who took the rule easy. The police were also checking if the helmets had an ISI mark. When I took my bike (I had a helmet for a long time) to my office, I could just see helmets everywhere in the road. Everyone who was on a two wheeler was wearing the helmet and I was happy at heart for more than one reason. The first being how common man is respecting the law of land in this case despite of many concerns raised like over sweating, hair loss and so on…I was happy that he considered the law and the safety more important than trivial things like sweating…Secondly I was happy that government despite protest from many sides implemented the rule as there were growing number of accidents every day!!
The sun sets and when chennaites wake up the next morning, the news papers quote a warm gesture from the chief minister that police would not go hard on people who are not following the rule. Instead, it would be verbal warning for two days and then the actual rules would come in place. Incidentally my friend who was riding without a helmet saw a policeman and maams also saw this guy. Immediately this guy dodged behind a car and was trying to hide. Maams caught him and said “Oliya vaendam sir, innaiku warning dhaan…kelambunga…” Friend said a hehe and continued.
Two days later another Government Order. Helmets are not mandatory for women and children who sit at the back seat. What the…? This was heights…there were so many campaigns that went on the city for three months, so many neurosurgeons stressing the need, the government was strict till the D-day and then suddenly it makes a revision…of course many were relieved(!) for not having to wear the gear in the hot sun…but not just days after they were forced to buy one. It looked as if the government had a tie up with helmet makers, sold their stock and when they went home with all their profits, government happily says no need to wear helmet for pillion riders. This is not a childs play that you enforce a law on one day and revoke it the other day. Being a government at least you have to make sensible rules and regulations and should have thought about all the pros and cons before enforcing.
No one bothered all these years about the lives that got lost in accidents. Suddenly one rule, lots of advertisements, campaigns, make people shell out money, no price control on the helmets too and then you implement the rule for one day!!! Awesome….it happens only in India…