Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Suitable Technology.....

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When I finished high school(1965), the college system forced us to choose between three streams. Arts, Science, and Commerce. School was 11 years. You then did 2 years of college.

After the first year, you chose either the A group (mathematics) or the B group (Biology), say , in the Science stream. One more year later , you could then choose to enter, what were then considered the hallowed portals of Engineering or Medicine, depending on whether you came from A or B respectively. Which was a bit unfair to folks like me who enjoyed French, English literature, Physics, Maths and Biology equally. Those were the days of emerging illogical willful thinking, and despite suggestions by many on how good engineering would be (given that I qualified , marks wise), I continued in the Science stream for two more years, to get Bachelor of Science degree (and more later).

Ever since then I have had a sneaking admiration for usage of a technology for something other than what it was intended for.

Think seat belts. In our 36 year old faithful Fiat, we were grateful to have seats, forget belts. The new cars that suddenly came with the new economy, came with seat belts, and immediately, the Mumbai Police made a law about wearing them. The demarcation between laws, breakage, and penalties is fuzzy by definition. Different cities have different rules about who should be compulsorily wearing seat belts.

But I have a suggestion that should have seat belt manufacturers drooling in anticipation.

All the legislatures, including our Parliament , should have seats with seat belts, the additional feature being that they are remote controlled. To pacify the members , there may be different colors of seat belts. Like black belts for worthies in the first row, blue ones for wide eyed followers, green ones for shirkers, and red ones for fence sitters at the back benches.

I was also going to suggest helmets. Since worthies wearing their seat belts , will still have their hands free.

The purpose is to bring a modicum of discipline in the normal behaviour of legislators, as they get up, and dash to the well of the house, sometimes even holding some other front row worthies by their collars, and punching them. Legislative TV is full of videos where so called peoples' representatives shake their fingers at the speaker, shout, and shove people around, yanking out microphones, chairs, flinging them with abandon.

An impressive electronic console behind the speaker could lock the seat belts remotely once the session has begun. The microphones would work only when seat belts are locked and the helmets on. The speaker can change rules, that allow members to sit (instead of standing up) and participate in the proceedings. A giant screen , similar to the one that says "Sachin, not out" at stadiums, can solve the problems of visibility in the constituency, as the members endeavour to exhibit their speeches.

Should one of the pear/apple shaped worthies, mechanically break the belt and try to throw things, the helmets would provide great protection. It goes without saying that the helmets provided to members will be free. Like they say in company reports, and mostly as a formality, "no current member of the House, is deemed to be interested in the manufacture and supply of these helmets". Which is probably untrue, given the fact that replacements for helmets are also free, and the coincident increase in buying of two-wheelers by the kith and kin of members is to be ignored.

Of course, leading industrial houses, some Reliable, some not so reliable, will be in the fray for providing the software and hardware for the system console. In addition, training of personnel would be done, with 33% reservation for women , in the selection of console operators. See, the timing is important. After the disastrous comment made about women by the Indian Air Force Chief, and Her Excellency , the President's outstanding sortie in a fighter aircraft at the age of 75, there will probably be no opposition to the idea.

It is entirely possible that in a few years, someone will expose what will be called the Helmet Controversy, or the Seat belt Scam. I am confident though, that the system will sail through and continue, given that some judge appointed to look into this, will take 18 years to give his report. Which will not see the light of the day, as someone will have lost the papers.

I guess I am getting patriotic in my old age. Its not as if I only think about the high and mighty.

I often think about those I encounter on a daily basis, those dodging obstructions on the road, wild wandering animals, those driving through red lights, those turning a blind eye .....

And there are also simple technologies.

Did I tell you about the whistle......


  1. How about gas !?! I mean, can we root for gasless tyres that are as smooth.

    For better shock absorbers. And spark plugs. For all the touchy tubelights this would serve a world of good !

    Ah yes. The whistle ! what a weapon !

  2. Seat belt scam ha!ha! Quite possible considering the innovative minds of our scamsters cum politicians/beaurocrats!Then think of the masala our news channels will dish out and the analysis that will follow when the likes like Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt will hold talk shows. And we the middle class will have something to watch on the otherwise dull TV programmes.Oh Suranga! I can't wait to enjoy some entertainment.

  3. Liked the suggestion of coloured seat belts for parliamentarians. The way they go, I feel like hitting them with a belt!

  4. Hmmmmmm, seems you have the same feelings about governmental institutions that I do! Not that I'm surprised. I also agree with Vivek -- I feel like hitting most of them with a belt as well! Delightful post as always, my friend! Got my weekend off to a very good start!

    Enjoy your evening and your tomorrow!


  5. Wonderful post!

    You are right- there will probably be a seatbelt scam as well as a helmet scam if seatbelts and replacements are free!

    But considering the great utility of having our MPs wear both, that is a risk worth taking!

  6. We have guys who do scams out of fodder and examinations. For them doing seat belt scams and helmet controversies is going to be child's play.

    But thank u for all the nice comments..