Geeta’s story reads rather like the Salman Khan starrer, Bajrangi Bhaijan, only in reverse. While in the movie, the deaf and mute girl is from Pakistan who has accidentally been left in India, Geeta is an Indian lady who accidentally crossed the border to Pakistan when she was 7 or 8 years old. Despite all border disputes that we have had with our neighbor, Pakistani soldiers handed her over to a home for abandoned and orphaned children in Lahore from where she was sent to the charitable Edhi Foundation in Karachi.
She was shown filial love and care by Faisal Edhi, director of the Edhi Foundation, Pakistan. This non-profit social welfare programme took Geeta within her folds and christened her Faiza. However, when the people at the Foundation realized that she has a Hindu upbringing, they re-named her Geeta.
The case was highlighted by Pakistani philanthropist and Former Federal Minister for Human Rights, Ansar Burney in 2011, following which people from Indian High Commission visited Karachi, but no steps were taken afterwards. The case is now back in the news due to Bajrangi Bhaijan citing a similar story as sated above.
After being directed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan met Geeta in Karachi and assured her to find her family soon. Since then four different families from Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand and U.P have come forward claiming Geeta to be their daughter. Sushma Swaraj has assured that the formalities to bring Geeta back are being worked on and has also requested the Chief Ministers of these states to verify the claims made by the respective families and report back.
Faisal Edhi has extended his heartfelt gratitude to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Pakistan foreign ministry and the media in both countries for helping Geeta find her family in India. “She has been with us for almost 13 years. Now it is time for her to return,” he added.
Geeta was shown the pictures of various families by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, who claim to be her relatives, and has identified one of them. However, the final handing over to her real parents will be done only if the pending DNA test proves to be positive. Otherwise, she will be granted accommodation in one of the two institutions identified in Delhi and Indore.
Borders and religion might divide the common people, but humanity has once again proved above all. We hope that these acts of kindness will continue to unite the people irrespective of the diplomatic tensions between the countries. The Logical Indian community lauds the Edhi Foundation for Geeta’s upbringing and the efforts of Indian and Pakistani governments to unite Geeta with her family. We hope she will find her real parents shortly.
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.