Pride of nation

Since 9/11, September 11 every year reminds everyone of the horrors that terrorism can inflict on humankind. Bloodshed, use of brute force and mass killings have been the order of the day ever since across the globe. But there were a couple of happenings in history which occurred on this very date more than a century ago that sought to add to the betterment of humanity. And what should be a matter for pride for every Indian is that two of the greatest men of the country were responsible for these.

The more well-known fact is that Mahatma Gandhi initiated his first satyagraha campaign in South Africa -- which he would later use to great effect in India while spearheading its mass movement for freedom -- in 1906. A lot has already been written and said about how the path of non-violence chosen by Gandhiji left the mighty British Empire clueless and became a major factor in India gaining Independence. It is only pertinent that while on one hand the world is mourning the death of thousands in the 9/11 massacre, here in Delhi the anniversary of "Satyagraha'' is being celebrated with a series of programmes.

But 15 years prior to Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha, another great Indian philosopher, Swami Vivekanand, had won the applause for India at the Parliament of Religions at Chicago in the United States in 1893. It was on the same date that he made the famous speech starting with the words: "Sisters and brothers of America... " The entire audience went into a rapturous applause, which lasted quite a few minutes, and gave the "young sanyasi" a standing ovation.

However, besides the rousing welcome Swami received, it might be of interest to recall what he said at the end of his address that was in response to the welcome accorded to the delegates. Swami Vivekanand ended his speech hoping that "the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all of persecution with the sword or with the pen".

-Prashant Pandey

Police patrol

It is not often that policemen in large numbers are spotted on roads late at night carrying out checks in the Capital. But whenever that happens, the policemen for some strange reasons are seen to be intercepting mostly two-wheeler riders for enquiries.

This past Friday night, the Police Commissioner issued a direction for general patrolling across the city. Already the entire force was on high alert in the wake of the explosions at Malegaon in Maharashtra earlier that day.

Senior police officers of all the nine districts were also asked to actively supervise the exercise. As per the directive, barricades were erected on roads well in advance for screening of commuters and almost at every temporary picket policemen of sub-inspector level were on duty along with their junior staff. A friend passing by one of those barricades noticed that while most cars were being allowed to pass after a cursory glance, the police personnel were showing a keen interest in stopping two-wheelers. They not only questioned several riders about the purpose of their visit to the area but also registered their particulars, apart from checking if their registration plates were as per law.

This left the onlookers wondering if it was an anti auto-theft drive or one seriously aimed at checking the movement of criminal and mischievous elements.

- Devesh K. Pandey

Need for side parking bays

Delhi somehow appears to have a fancy for two-lane roads. Be it be National Highways or Master Plan roads, the city is full of roads which are only two-lane-wide; this even when there is ample scope to widen the roads. As a result what often happens is that even a single breakdown of a vehicle leads to a long pile-up and there is absolutely no way out for the vehicles trapped on the carriageway.

A case in point is National Highway-24 where right from the Yamuna Bridge to the Akshardham Setu flyover the highway is divided into two carriageways of two lanes each. This usually leads to massive jams on the road. And when the curious motorists reach the spot where the cause of the jam lies, they find that it is a mere single vehicle that unluckily broke down.

The need of the hour, say traffic experts, is to provide small side parking bays on all such two-lane roads and flyover at short distances of around 50 metres each so that the broken down vehicles can simply be pushed into these sections and the movement of traffic on the roads is not disturbed. The way bus shelters are pushed further aside so that buses coming to a halt do not disrupt traffic flow, all future two-lane roads should be designed in a similar fashion keeping in mind that vehicles can and do often break down.

Besides ensuring better vehicular movement, this will also provide a safe stopping area for the owners of faulty vehicles till the time help in the form of repair or tow away vehicles arrives.

-- Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar