English   |   Bangla

Why the mace-wielding God of Death is running up and down the streets of Bengaluru

Yamaraja has the full backing of the law behind him.

 |  3-minute read |   12-07-2018
  • ---
    Total Shares

Many of us start to put our car seat belts on only upon spotting a traffic police official on the roads. Many bike and pillion riders don't put on their helmets till they know a cop could be waiting to intercept them. Zebra crossings mean nothing more than mere white and black lines painted on roads to most motorists, and we don't mind jumping a red light or two unless we know there is a cop waiting nearby to issue a challan.

We only seem worried about the traffic cop, not our own safety.

We don't follow traffic rules till we know that we can be fined for breaking them. We actually live oblivious to the fact that accidents lead to serious injuries, even death — and we live like this till it actually happens. LINK

Given our love for breaking rules, only one being can fix us. The Lord of Death has thus descended on the streets of Bengaluru with a mission to make car drivers and bike riders understand that death is possible if vehicles are driven rashly, traffic norms violated and we overspeed just for thrills.

Armed with a mace and dressed in his traditional golden dress, Yamaraja is chasing people up and down busy streets to make them understand that breaking traffic rules is neither cool, nor advisable. And the mace-wielding Yama has the full backing of the law. He is actually the brand ambassador chosen by the Halasuru Gate traffic police to drive home to traffic violators the perils of not wearing a helmet, not fastening seat belts or jumping red lights.

In a country where a staggering over 1,50,000 people — about 400 per day — are killed every year in road accidents, and where people still care little about following road safety measures, there couldn't have been a better advocacy strategy than to send 'death itself' to scare people of death.

India's road fatality figures are far higher than even developed auto markets such as the US, which, in 2016, logged about 40,000 deaths and while traffic police have regularly put out ads in newspapers, television and even in cinema halls, not many have paid heed to the message. This despite Union minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, calling the figures  highest globally.

Given our 'chalta hai' attitude towards everything, including our own safety, it is important that communication strategies are drawn in a way that they jog people out of their slumber.

yama690_071218072245.jpgWe don't follow traffic rules till we know that we can be fined for breaking them.

And it was because of the concerted efforts being made by the traffic police that 2017 saw figures for those killed on the roads in India coming down by 4,560 or three per cent from 1.51 lakh the previous year. While it is ironic that the police department has to remind us that our lives are precious, it is heartening to see that at their own level the traffic police department has been making concerted efforts to save us from dying on the roads.

It is in league with these efforts that in Bengaluru, Yama is intercepting motorists violating traffic norms and warning them that he would visit their homes if they continue to flout regulations.

After intercepting motorists, Yama is seen waving his mace in the air, warning them that he would not spare them.

It is a lovely strategy to convey a serious message on a lighter note.

Nobody likes to be controlled by rules. The moment we find something imposed on us, we try to break free. That is the way we in India are. Like this, only.

But given the belief in mythology, and the deeply religious sentiments of a vast section of people in this country, it is only likely that we will follow some rules if mythological characters ask us to do so.

Rules set by the traffic police are never seen as rules meant for us — we see these as a burden imposed on our individual selves. But this attempt by the Bengaluru police is applause-worthy because Yama talking to us about our safety makes it about us.

PS: The Yama, who intercepted motorists, is actually Veeresh, a theatre artiste performing Hindu mythology-based dramas.

Also read: Why Jayant Sinha's apology over garlanding members of lynch mob means nothing

Writer

Vandana Vandana @vandana5

Author is a Delhi-based journalist.

Like DailyO Facebook page to know what's trending.