In the past few days we have all been witness to the controversy generated by meat ban in Maharashtra. For those who do not know, it was done keeping in mind the Jain festival of Parsyushana, which is celebrated for 8 (Swetambara Jains) or 10 (Digambara Jains) days in the month of August or September.
The ban on meat during the festival has been since 2004, but it has not been implemented consistently as far as the ban on sale is concerned. This year, however, the Maharashtra government imposed a ban on meat, triggering protests in Maharashtra as well as debates in the entire country. The ban was reduced to two days following the public outrage. The matter went to Bombay High Court which put a stay on the government order banning sale of meat and slaughter in Mumbai.
The Jain community made a plea to the Supreme Court, which gave its verdict today. The petition was filed by Shree Tapagarhiya Atma Kamal Labdhisuriswarji Gyanmandir Trust against the Bombay Mutton Dealers Association challenging the HC stay on a September 2004 notification for closing down of abattoirs in Mumbai. The Jain Trust argued that a ban on meat for 15-20 days can only be conceived as compassion for animals. Even animals have right to live under Article 21 of the Constitution, advocate Abhishek Singhvi argued. It is a practice of the principle of ahimsa.
The Supreme Court Bench of Justices T.S Thakur and Kurian Joseph said that “compassion is not something that should be reserved only for festival periods”. The former even quoted the famous poet Kabir – “’why do you peek into the homes of those who use meat, let them do what they do, but why are you so bothered about them, brother’. This means that there should be tolerance for the practices of other communities, too. Moreover, ahimsa cannot be practiced through meat ban. It can be inculcated in other ways. He said such calls for meat bans from governments are fodder for “elements who want to use it as a reason for conflict”.
Moreover, people who depend on meat products for their living would find it difficult to handle the ban. “Butchery is happening across the country, all over the world, even if you agree or not to it. Please inculcate the spirit of tolerance within”.
To put it in a nutshell, the Supreme Court said, “meat ban cannot be shoved down someone’s throat”.
The Trust has been allowed to withdraw its petition and given the liberty to approach the Bombay High Court for an early resolution of the issue.
It is true indeed that trying to regulate food choices of citizens is not a good idea. An appeal could have been made to shut down the slaughter houses and shops, leaving it to the public to decide what they want to eat based on their religious or personal choices.
Have you ever spotted a speeding car without a care for the traffic signal? Ever spotted a person rushing to the other side of the road when the traffic light is green? Ever seen bikers use pavements as roads to save a few minutes? Ever seen cars change lanes on highways or rush hour traffic on a whim? Well, so have thousands of other Indians.
Road safety in India is a serious concern. For a country that boasts the second largest road network in the world, it is inarguable that we need to pay more attention to our safety on roads – a place where we step out every day, spend a handsome amount of our time.
The government has come up with several regulations on road safety, but is this enough? Not if awareness around the topic is still lacking.
The intention behind the initiative is to bring together lawmakers, local authorities, traffic police and citizens under one umbrella.
The cities will be rated on parameters such as Pedestrian Rights, Road Lighting and Maintenance, Motor Laws and Traffic Control, Emergency Services, Road Cleanliness, Connectivity, Road Transport Infrastructure, Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management, Road Safety, Differently abled friendly, Road Quality and Road Safety For Children.
Here are the ten cities that were chosen for Road Safety Index 2018 and the reasons that make their roads safe or unsafe:
Mumbai has facilities for the differently-abled like reservations in public transports, special train compartments, concessions on fares, etc. The city that never sleeps scored the best when it comes to citizens’ participation in making the city accepting and warm toward the differently-abled. It won the category ‘Differently-Abled Friendly’.
However, there are areas of improvement – illegal hawkers, pavements and footpaths need to be fixed or reconstructed.
Anyone who hails from the capital of West Bengal knows about its recreational parks and brightly lit streets. Its traffic police deserve special mention for redirecting rush traffic every day as Kolkata roads are narrow and many are one-way streets.
During Durga Puja, the city tries to make Pandals differently-abled friendly by installing ramps.
It won the categories – ‘Road Lighting & Maintenance’ and ‘Road Safety For Children’.
But the City of Joy needs to work more on giving its residents #HappyRoads. Issues of waterlogging and numerous street hawkers, roadside vendors in busy areas need to be solved.
There’s no one who’s been to Delhi and not praised its excellent connectivity. Delhi prides itself for broad roads, top-notch metros, pavements and foot over bridges. The national capital surely serves as an example for cities across India when it comes to road connectivity hence, it won the categories ‘Connectivity’ and ‘Road Quality’ in the Road Safety Index.
While Delhi has made many of its public places differently-abled friendly, the areas that need improvement are long hours in traffic, fixing of roads that pose a hindrance to daily commute and rash driving by bikers.
The city boasts well-marked zebra crossings, adequate footpaths for pedestrians, underground SMART dustbins, reduced encroachments. Raipur fares well in almost all parameters of road safety. It won the category of ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Pedestrian Rights’.
However, the city could do better with stricter fines for traffic violators and awareness about road safety and garbage disposal.
Other cities can take inspiration from Chennai on how to ensure good road safety. The city has wide, well-connected roads that are lit properly. It also boasts rigorous night patrolling where traffic rules violators are fined. One of the best initiatives taken by Chennai is the separate parking space on city roads that prevent traffic from accumulating. It came out on top in the category ‘Motor Laws & Traffic Control’.
Areas where Chennai needs to improve are street lighting and cleanliness.
Indore is one of the few cities that has used plastic waste for construction of roads and covered garbage disposals, which explains why the city won the ‘Road Cleanliness’ category. Indore also has adequate zebra crossings, visual signals, street lights, footpaths.
But areas where the city needs improvement are – strict action against traffic violators, public spaces more differently-abled friendly.
There is a lot to learn from the road safety measures implemented by Ahmedabad – sound medical facilities, separate lanes for local buses, special cab service for differently-abled, wide roads. Ahmedabad won in the category ‘Emergency Services’, ‘Road Transport Infrastructure’ and ‘Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management’.
If the Heritage City improves road safety awareness among citizens, it’s bound to fare even better. Better street lighting and lesser encroachments will work in favour of Ahmedabad.
The other cities shortlisted were Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad but they didn’t win any category.
Maruti Suzuki’s initiative to rank cities will encourage citizens and administration to do better and emerge on top.
The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly appreciates the various initiatives undertaken by Maruti-Suzuki in this direction. Not only the government but we, as citizens of this country, should also pledge to make our roads safe. One of the first steps towards this is that we understand our duties.
We hope the authorities take a note while we pledge to do our own bit towards happier, safer Indian roads.
For more information about the Maruti Suzuki’s initiative and the Road Safety Indexclick here.