Apr 26, 2007

Saving Lives

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (a part of the US Department of Transportation) recently mandated Electronic Stability Control systems in all passennger vehicles. The move, which is touted to be a landmark ruling along with the likes of mandatory seat belts and Anti-Lock Braking systems in vehicles, has the potential to save thousands of lives every year.
This is in stark contrast to India, where not much mandates (In fact I hardly know of any) are passed to ensure that automobile manufacturers build vehicles with passenger safety utmost in their minds. Passing a mandate is one story, but enforcing it is another.

Today I was thinking that the American vehicle manfacturers have left no stones unturned on the safety aspect, when two 'trivial' things, which have bothered me in the past, came up. One was the turning indicators. I have observed that predominantly in all American cars, both the braking lights and the turinng indicator lights are of the same colour - Red. Imagine that you are driving on a highway (or any other road for that matter) for more than an hour. Naturallyyou are bound to be fatigued (especially at night because of the shrouding darkness). Lets assume that a vehicle in front of you is about to take a turn and the driver turns on the indicator lights and slows down or maybe even halts. The braking lights will be glowing bright and the indicator lights will be blinking. There is zero contrast between the two, other than a blinking section of the lights.Probably you would have noticed that under such conditions you react a bit more late than you ever normally do. I believe this is due to both braking and indicator lights being of the same color. As far as I can recollect, in Indian cars the indicator lights are yellow in color (inspired by the Japanese cars I guess). In an accident, where even milli seconds count, these small things could be crucial.

I have also noticed that none of the American cars have the rubber 'mud flaps' that dangle freely behind the rear wheels on all Indian cars (Trucks have these though). Today I was driving in the highway and all cars in front of me generously spewed rain water from the roads onto my car's windwshield, making it quite difficult to see the road. This is more pronounced when you are quite close to the car in front. This might prevent us from seeing the traffic slowing down in front of us in time, or we might fail to notice something lying on the road.
These are just small things but could be having a huge bearing on traffic safety considering the high speeds of driving in the US. I wonder how many lives could have been saved by having yellow colored indicator lights and rubber pads behind rear wheels.


Apr 19, 2007

Reporting to fame..

The recent Virginia Tech shootout had left people the world over a witness to some of the most gruesome scenes ever in an education campus. And predictably the media fell on top of each other to get 'exclusive' coverage of the incident. One thing that got my attention was the i-Report feature in CNN.
People who happen to be a witness to any unfolding 'news item' can send their descriptions, videos or photos of the 'developing story' to this section, and CNN will 'prominently' showcase this on their web page and depending upon the commercial value, will also allot time slots in their news channel as well. Needless to say, people in their quest for a few minutes of fame, will be vying for a recording of all events which they deem are fit to be featured on a news channel.

CNN has struck a goldmine with this. They cannot possibly be in all places where a news 'breaks out'. But with i-Report, people who had a ring side view of events can send in their reports in exchange for their share of an ephemeral fame. So every time there is a hurricane, flood, or a raging lunatic with gun, people instead of scurrying for cover get more closer to the danger to record it on their cam. Jon Stewart had a dig at this some time back. If anyone gets caught up in an enthusiasm for 'covering the event' and something untoward happens, CNN (or any news channels for that matter) is not going to compensate them for sure. It was the person's risk and he/she paid for it. I wonder how many people have lost their lives, or have met with some accident in their eagerness...


Apr 13, 2007

Its the logic that beats me

Roughly an year back, the Aviation Ministry decided to rename Indian Airlines as 'Indian'. I always wondered what could have initiated this move. One can understand the need IA felt to go for a major revamp, considering their pathetic services, decades old flights, and rather poor customer service.
Had IA felt the need to get rid of this poor image, then they should be focusing more on improving its services on those aspects. Instead, choosing to rename Indian Airlines as 'Indian' and changing the colours will not be taking it anywhere. Whats the logic behind dropping the 'Airlines' tag from its name anyway? Probably the higher echelons of IA felt that the services they offered are way below that of what a national carrier should be offering, so much so that they do not even deserved to be called an Airlines and therefore decided to correct the anomaly in its name by dropping the 'Airlines' tag?
Moreover, imagine the situation whenever the carrier is mentioned. Cant get stranger than this!

P.S.: Read this post by Raj about the 'Indian'isation of the Indian Airlines. Amazingly humourous!!
Added May 02, 2007


Apr 2, 2007


It surely is. AR Rahman has once again precisely handpicked the song for rendering his voice. Vaali has penned the lyrics for the song.

But what has made me addicted to this song is the Guitar piece from 1:45 to 2:00 and this repeats at 3:40 and at 5:15. It has shrouded the entire song with a retro surrealism. I am dying to see how the song has shaped up in the movie. Already stills from the song have made anticipations soar.


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