NDTV carried a news story about a family (father, mother and two kids) who were travelling on a motorcycle when they were hit by a truck. The mother and baby died on the spot and a video on the NDTV website taken from CCTV footage show the man pleading with passing vehicles to help him. The footage is raw, it is shocking. Why do people not stop to help someone in need? It is a pertinent question, and one that has to be asked.
But there is another side of this story, which is being completely ignored by the media. Why? Because it is not a human-interest angle. Because the answer to that question in India would be, “Let he among you who has not sinned cast the first stone.”
The question is what were four people doing on one motorcycle?
Traffic safety is an ignored subject in India. Stand on any pavement (if you can find one) and the action that unfolds in front of you belongs in a circus tent. It is common for motorcycles to carry upwards of three people, sometimes precariously. People talk on mobile phones while riding. Almost none of the riders use helmets, the pillion riders definitely do not. The concept of the yellow jacket is non-existent. In fact, people ride at night in black clothes. Motorcycles are ridden on the wrong side of the road, they jump road dividers and take u-turns in the most impossible of locations.
What happened to this family is tragic, but it is a tragedy of their own making. Before the gentleman asks questions of the people who didn’t help him, he needs to answer a few questions himself:
- What was an 8-month old baby doing on a motorcycle?
- Why were there four people on the motocycle?
- Why did none of the riders have a helmet?
Yes, poverty is a problem in India. But I guess it is safe to assume that someone who can afford a 35K motocycle can, when required call an autorickshaw to carry his family. Or else there is the public transport. Or else, don’t go out with the family.
Before we demand for help, we need to ask ourselves if we have done everything to even begin to call for help.
So more than the apathy of the passing public, let us question the sheer foolhardiness of this family.
Even more dangerous, is the tendency to get oneself into trouble and then scream to high heaven that it is everybody else’s responsibility to help you out of it. This tendency is seen all through our society. We vote in bad leaders or, worse, don’t vote at all but then complain about bad governance. We pay the bribe to get a driving license without actually learning driving and when we have an accident, we want the public to help us out.
I am sorry for the man’s loss. But I feel even more sorry for the little boy who has to grow up without a mother and has only this idiot for a father to look up to.