July 06, 2009

For whom the toll isn't

Bombay's municipal corporators are demanding an exemption from paying the toll on the new Bandra-Worli Sealink.

Therefore, in addition to the "No Bullock Carts" sign at one end of the bridge, I fully expect we will soon see near the toll plaza a large sign like the large sign in this photograph, familiar to anyone who has travelled India's highways. With the important additional specification, of course, that municipal corporators are exempt from paying the toll.

To save you from squinting, here's the full text from the sign:

A) LIST OF TOLL FEE EXEMPTED VECHICLES

I) DEFENCE VEHICLES
II) POLICE VEHICLES
III) VEHICLE WITH VIP SYMBOLS
IV) FIRE FIGHTING VEHICLES
V) AMBULANCES
VI) FUNERAL VANS
VII) POST AND TELEGRAPH DEPARTMENT'S VEHICLES
VIII) CENTRAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT VEHICLES ON DUTY


THE FOLLOWING VEHICLES SHALL BE DEEMED TO BE HAVING "VIP" SYMBOLS OR OFFICIALLY EXEMPTED VEHICLES.

A) HAVING "VIP" SYMBOLS, OR OFFICIALLY BELONGING TO:
a) PRESIDENT OF INDIA
b) VICE PRESIDENT OF INDIA
c) GOVERNOR OF A STATE OR LT. GOVERNOR OF A UNION TERRITORY
d) A FOREIGN DIGNITARY ON STATE VISIT TO INDIA
e) A FOREIGN DIPLOMAT STATIONED IN INDIA USING CARS WITH "CD" / "CC" NUMBER PLATES
f) CHAIRMAN OF RAJYA SABHA OR SPEAKER OF LOK SABHA OR CHAIRMAN OF A STATE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL OR SPEAKER OF A STATE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OR A MINISTER FOR THE UNION OR STATE, OR LEADERS OF OPPOSITION IN LOK SABHA OR RAJYA SABHA OR STATE LEGISLATURES HAVING THE STATUS OF CABINET MINISTER, IF HE IS SITTING IN THE VEHICLE; OR
g) A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, OR A MEMBER OF LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF A STATE OR A MEMBER OF LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL OF A STATE, IN THE RESPECTIVE STATE, IF HE PRODUCES HIS IDENTITY CARD ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OR CONCERNED LEGISLATURE OF A STATE, AS THE CASE MAY BE

B) BELONGING TO WINNER OF GALLANTRY AWARDS SUCH AS PARAM VIR CHAKRA, ASHOK CHAKRA, MAHA VIR CHAKRA, KIRTI CHAKRA, VIR CHAKRA AND SHAURYA CHAKRA, IF SUCH AWARDEE PRODUCES HIS PHOTO IDENTITY CARD DULY AUTHENTICATED BY THE COMPETENT AUTHORITY FOR SUCH AWARD
.

As you can see, among other things such boards lead you into some nice little conundrums.

For example: Your vehicle is exempt from the toll if it has "VIP Symbols" (First Clause A, Section III, at the top). Well, then we need to define what a vehicle having VIP symbols means. Right? OK! So the second Clause A, middle of the board, spells that out succinctly indeed -- it's one "having VIP symbols."

Got that? A vehicle that has VIP symbols is defined as a vehicle that has VIP symbols.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why some smart entrepreneur hasn't started a business making and selling VIP symbols. Whatever those are.

Perhaps we can get our corporators to figure that out.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shashi Tharoor has said in an interview that speaking to Pakistan while at the sametime waiting for it to act on 26/11 accused is not a climbdown but a pragmatic approah. My question is why did we not take this pragmatic approach right from the beginning instead of all the grandstanding post 26/11 especially when we didn't have the means to follow up on it.

Ugich Konitari said...

I was just about to suggest the possible rise of folks doing brisk business in VIP paraphernalia, in Worli and Bandra. I can see red beacons commanding a premium, and painting types displaying several boards for your choice, such as "On India Government Duty", "On MMRDA duty" .Why not make everyone pay, and issue these VIP types some vouchers through which they can claim a refund ?

MinCat said...

so wait, priyanka gandhi and her husband have to PAY toll??? *GASP*!

Dilip D'Souza said...

Ugich K: Why not make everyone pay, and issue these VIP types some vouchers through which they can claim a refund?

Why not make everyone pay, period?

Even better, why not make only VIPs, as defined by multifarious boards and symbols, pay?

km said...

Why not make everyone pay, period?

The problem is probably one of technology.

You surely don't want emergency vehicles, police vehicles, military vehicles, ambulances, fire-trucks et al paying toll by cash.

They need to implement an RF tag system (like the EZPass in the North-eastern US and other similar RF-based tolling systems elsewhere) to automatically deduct tolls for the "exception vehicles".

Ugich Konitari said...

The idea behind the vouchers was to analyze who is misusing the facility. You enter the data when someone presents the voucher for a refund. Produce weeekly lists and find out who shouldnt be on the list, and hopefully punish them.

Suresh said...

Why not make everyone pay, period?

The problem is probably one of technology.

No, not at all. It's an attitude that permeates our government and society. I think that's Dilip's point.

My uncle once told me the story of standing in queue at Bhubaneswar airport for an Indian Airlines flight to Delhi. Suddenly, a man went to the front of the queue when it was clearly not his turn. When the people in the queue objected, the guy [who was apparently doing the checking-in for the then Chief Justice] turned back and said "Do you expect the Chief Justice of India to actually come and stand in the queue?" Need more be said?

There are any number of such stories. Here's one which actually made it to the press. A few years ago, Mr. Inder Gujral, a former Prime Minister, waxed indignant about how he was not automatically cleared when entering the country after a visit abroad. When this was reported in the press and commented on adversely, he tried to cover himself by saying "If this is the way I'm treated, can you imagine the plight of the common man?" I know Mr. Gujral probably doesn't admire Israel, but only the Yiddish chutzpah can adequately describe his behaviour.

The "VIP list" just illustrates what is fairly well-known: An entire set of government officials and politicians basically perceive themselves to be above the "riffraff", that is, the common people.

By the way, the fact that you get special treatment if the vehicle you're driving has a "VIP symbol" has not gone unnoticed. There is, I understand, a brisk business in the "red light beacon." You can buy one, and put one on top of your car, if you're so inclined.

Azous D'Pilid said...

This is the mark of the Socialist Utopia all of you subscribe to. In a socialist country, the government controls the commanding heights of the economy, so naturally they are the Gods. They are the ones with the power to make or break your business, your life. You are the people who elect these fools into power time and again, so i don't know what you are complaining about now. You are the ones who keep voting back half-bred dolts simply because they have the name Gandhi, why do you complain now when they think they are a higher power. You bring it on yourself, after all you are just a Mango Man.