Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mousetrap of the state

Have you ever thought why the traffic problem in India just keeps increasing? Why proper facilities are not created for even the most basic requirement? Why information is kept away from the public? Even a simple wrong way sign on the road is hidden away so that the normal human being's eye sight cannot detect it? Why trains are almost always late? They are not just one off cases, but all these deficiencies in the system are working hand in hand to create a mousetrap of the state. This one incident will throw some light.
It was Tuesday morning and I was taking my parents to the railway station to see them off as they were travelling back home. The station is less than 10 kms from my flat and we started one hour before the departure time of the train. It was 8:30 in the morning and hence the traffic was not much, but only till about 200 mts before from the station. I noticed that the roads have been designed in such way that no matter what time of the day and no matter how many vehicles are on the road there's ought to be a traffic jam there. So it took about 20 mins to cross that distance of 200 mts and we reached station at 8:50 which was the departure time of the train. It was the first door of the trap. We rushed to the platform. I went to buy platform tickets and find out the platform number of the train. But it was a small station and I just could get no information about the platform and the line in the ticket counter was so long that if I bought a platform ticket then obviously I would miss the train. The second door of the trap of course. So we took a guess and rushed to the platform which was crowded. The train was as usual late, though by only 10 mins, because it was the first stoppage of the train. Anyways the train came and I helped my parents get inside their coach and said bye and started walking back.
And there waiting for me there was the final door of the trap.
We all are used to buy tickets, show them at the entrance of whatever we are entering and then get inside. Say for watching a movies, rock show or getting inside an airport. Sometimes the ticket is actually given at the entrance. Totally fair and logical. But ever wondered why such a system is not present in railway stations. I did not think much of it till that day. In railway stations your tickets are checked when you are coming out of the ticket use area (the platform). And no points for guessing who completes the mousetrap.
Had to pay up Rs 270/- for each person as fine for a mere Rs 3/- platform ticket.
Like me so many people fall into the mousetrap everyday and what could have been just Rs 3/- as government revenue it becomes Rs 270/-. And when so many people pay this and many more fines like this (India being the second largest country in terms of population) imagine what the state earns from the mousetrap. And once again the everyman is at the receiving end as usual.