I enjoyed reading the Times of India on the flight from Kathmandu to Delhi two days ago, November 23rd. Getting a flavor of local color is a priority when you travel. An article, Red Light to Honking on Sundays by Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, on page 2, I found particularly engaging at a number of levels. I love the charming use of English that one hears and reads in India. This article is such an example and I've quoted directly to share my delight.
In the city of Kolkata, an anti-noise campaign has started and Sunday has been declared a no honking day. To quote the police commissioner of Kolkata, Guatam Mohan Chakrabarti, “...city police are embarking on a major campaign against noise pollution in general and bursting of high decibel firecrackers in particular.”
“After some progress in the campaign, we want to observe Sundays as no honking days. Motorists in the city often honk without reason. Most of the time this is a manifestation of their impatience. Sundays being no hurry days, drivers can desist from honking. This would substantially reduce noise levels in the city. Over time, the city has got noisier and at some busy crossings, it is completely maddening.”
What is also relevant in networked India is that this campaign has begun on a virtual plane on the blog kolkatacops.com. The Police Commissioner continues, “enforcement alone cannot make the difference. Only awareness can bring down the overall noise levels. Since we already have a blog, we cannot have a better vehicle for such a campaign.
“We are inviting environmentalists and doctors to air their views on the ill effects of high-decibel fireworks on health and the environment.” In addition, he wants to invite historians “to tell how and when the noise level increased to such a level”. Furthermore, “sociologists should speak on what social implications this sudden spurt of noise pollution may have on our social life. We would like to have the views of economists if they can quantify the environmental damage and the financial loss incurred by this noise spurt.”
The Police Commissioner has not forgotten the common person. He does not want the blog to be “an airtight zone for expression on one-way views.” He is hoping for a range of views from regular citizens as well. “We expect that eventually science, logic and enormous goodwill would prevail.”
Among already eminent citizens who have blogged, here are two comments:
“It is surely a good move, but I doubt if drivers will follow it. In civilized countries, drivers do not honk unnecessarily, but here this is a custom. Drivers should be trained properly.” Dr. Dulal Bose, Ent specialist and former sheriff of Kolkata.
“It has become a habit here to blow the horn unnecessarily. If drivers stop doing this, noise pollution levels will come done. For this, we need a mass awareness campaign and this is a good initiative to start with.” Devang Gandhi, cricketer.
Enthusiasm and passion can be transferred virtually, so here's to the Kolkata cops.
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