Jugalbandi in a traffic jam

Does Nitin Gadkari want vehicles to croon sa re ga ma?

Imagine driving to work on a busy Monday morning and ending up in a traffic jam that resembles a music concert that has a bunch of Hindustani and Carnatic music instruments playing all at once. Chances are you would quit driving then and there. If the Union government has its way, traffic jams of the near future might resemble a hundred jugalbandi concerts playing in your street!

You must be wondering what this is all about! It all started on a fine morning when Union Minster for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari was engrossed in his usual pranayama session at his 11th floor apartment, before getting ready for work.

That morning, the Mantri Mahoday’s pranayama session got interrupted, not once, but multiple times, when vehicles on the road kept honking repeatedly. And that was when Gadkari had a spark that let an idea pop out. An idea like the ones we normally see in comic books, complete with a lit-up electric bulb and all!

The honking of vehicle horns are not easy on the ears, we all know. They are deafening to say the least, Mananiya Mantri-ji too thought so. Why not do away with them then? Perfect thought, he thought. 

Gadkari and his idea of a musical drive

But then, vehicles need to have horns, at least, here on Indian roads. And so, he thought of a replacement. That is when the idea of marrying vehicular traffic with Indian culture dawned on him. The idea continued to flow. Mantri-ji wasted no time. Thathaastu!

He set motion to his train of thoughts on how to go about it. How about replacing all those silly, loud, idiotic, deafening horns with something smooth? What better than the traditional musical instruments that shower melodious music? A sa re ga ma thought it was, to say the least.

Yes, that was it! Nitin Gadkari charted out the whole plan in his mind, and if he has his way, the department he heads will soon be lining up orders to dump horns and usher in different music machines that play the sitar, tabla and what not!

Going by a Lokmat report that spoke about the minister’s thought process and decision, Nitin Gadkari will soon introduce a new rule to make car horns sound like Indian musical instruments. He has already revealed that his department is working on changing the sound of horns. So in a few days, you and the people of your ilk will have a notification sent out to you stating that the honk is out and mellifluous music should be in, if you are to take your car out in the open street.

Need to implement existing rules to curb noise pollution

Honking is bad, we agree. But imagine having to throw out the existing sound machines to bring in some expensive Hindustani music in your vehicle. As existing rules mandate, the maximum loudness of a car’s horn should not exceed 112 decibels. If the honourable minister has been feeling uneasy with the loud honking, why not make it mandatory that loud honking is punishable?

There indeed is a law in this land that stipulates that every vehicle should be careful in using horns that don’t exceed the permissible limit. Instead of bringing in tough measures to curb noise pollution, one wonders what makes the Mananiya Mantri-ji go for something unheard of! And ridiculous, too!

Aren’t there chances that the ‘sitar vaadan’ in your car’s horn could exceed the permissible sound limit?  That too would be punishable as per current law, right? Or would it be that you may be let off just because you displayed your patriotism by playing the sitar in a traffic jam?

What the Minister should think of is to impose the No-Honking policy in at least the designated zones where hospitals and schools are situated. And, of course, those who tend to honk loud should be made aware that there is a noise-limiting law in place. The Ministry should make sure the citizens behind the wheel abide by the rules.

Some time ago, Gadkari’s ministry had told us that the old vehicles are to be out so that pollution could be curbed. Also recently, he had brought in the Bharat series (BH) registration to ensure seamless transfer of vehicles. But multiple jugalbandis on the road come about as a crazy idea, to say the least.

What the government aims to achieve through this is only for the Minister to elaborate on. Until then, we for sure, are clueless. Such an idea coming from someone who has been at the top of the road transport ministry for long is baffling!

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Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »
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