Monday, July 17, 2006

Mumbai blasts: Profiteering cabbies

As I have said in my previous posts on what YOU can do to prevent terror attacks I and II, we Indians keep getting attacked because we are too selfish: we forget the victims too quickly and move on, forgetting about terror attacks within a few weeks or months of them happening, and thereby letting our enemies know that we will never remember them long enough to be able to take any serious action against the terrorists.

Here is the latest glaring proof of our selfishness: taxi-drivers in Mumbai fleeced panicky passengers, asking for as much as Rs 1000 to Rs 3000 for just a short ride home.

Their attitude was "I don't care what happened to you or your family in the terror attacks. Nothing happened to me and I want to get as much money as I can get when people are afraid and times are good for me."

Contrast this to the attitude shown by Americans in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. There the firemen and policemen of New York rushed into the burning World Trade Center towers to rescue people stuck on higher floors. Most of the firemen and policemen who did this heroid job died themselves.

As a Nation, we Indians have a long way to go.

As long as we remain selfish, and care only about our own personal narrow interests, our enemies will keep killing us one by one. None of us will be able to save ourselves because we are all weak separately. It is only together as a Nation that we can be strong, and survive these dangerous times.

There is still time. We must take concrete steps to rejuvenate ourselves as a society, as a Nation, and prove to our enemies that we are NOT a bunch of selfish individuals who just happen to live in the same land mass, but a Nation of people who care about and stand by each other.

The taxi drivers who brought disgrace upon India, upon Mumbai, by profiteering using the July 11 misfortune must be dealt with very strictly.

What they did was not only a shameful act, but also a crime.

Since we don't know which taxi-drivers in particular were responsible for this criminal mischief, we must punish them collectively.

Heavy fines must be imposed on the Taxi-Drivers' Unions by the Maharashtra Government or the Government of India. The money collected from the fines should be spent on ex-gratia compensation to the families of those affacted by the blasts.

The Taxi-drivers' Union members will figure out among themselves which of them will pay how much to their Unions to make up their Unions balance sheets. They know who among them committed these crimes. They will split up the fine among themselves appropriately.

The Taxi-Drivers' Unions must be fined for their members having committed this outrage.

This will force opportunistic Indians in future emergency situations to keep their greed in check and reduce the incidence of this kind of crimes in future emergencies.

If you agree with and believe in what I have suggested above as the right course of action for us as a Country, please talk about this with all your friends and family.

We, the right-thinking and non-corrupt common people of India need to become more vocal. For too long we have been taken for granted because we have remained silent.

The dangers of remaining silent have now become all-too-apparent as India has gone from bad to worse in successive decades under weak and ineffective leaders who have divided and ruled over us weakening India's social fabric as a Nation; it is now time for us to act to save the Country and our Society from grave dangers facing it.

The only way we can act is by organizing ourselves into an united, large, and formidable political force.

To do so, we need to talk to and wake up others round us. This weblog is part of that initiative. My dear Reader, I invite you to join this initiative.

Help me reach out to our fellow-citizens, help me wake up people all around us, and I promise you that you shall see an India that your children will be proud to inherit.

Vande Mataram. Jai Hind.

Times of India reports:
Some Mumbai cabbies made a killing on 7/11

MUMBAI: As the city was reeling under the serial blasts that ripped local trains on July 11, some taxi drivers left no stone unturned in fleecing passengers who wanted to reach home to safety.

According to reports, some of them demanded fares ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 from passengers – either caught in the blast or who had been stranded at various railway stations and roads, and were willing to pay any amount to get home quickly.

When contacted, the Mumbai Taximen Union said: “It cannot control such behaviour by unscrupulous cabbies’’. However, it added that the union planned to set up a small task force comprising taxi drivers who could help out passengers during emergencies.

Shali Pinto and two others who were in the first class ladies compartment of the train that witnessed a blast at Mahim were told to shell out between Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 for being transported upto Borivli.

“I heard the blast and was shocked. I just wanted to get away from the spot but the taxi driver was adamant on charging more money,’’ recalled Pinto, who still shivers when memories of the blast return as she gets on to the railway platform.

According to Pinto, an elderly man who was injured in the blast (he was probably standing on the platform) was bleeding profusely and wanted to be dropped at Borivli, but the taxi driver refused to carry him without being paid excess money.

Following the blasts, some Nariman Point taxi drivers were demanding Rs 2,000 to drive upto the suburbs. “As soon as we told the (taxi) driver about the bomb blast and the urgency to get home, he demanded Rs 2,000. Obviously at that point one didn’t mind paying. But on introspection, I felt it was in bad taste to take advantage of such situations,’’ said Manjula Ganeshan, a private bank executive.

For travelling from Dadar to Andheri, Sahil Deshmukh and three others had to pay up Rs 500 each. “When the taxi got stuck in the traffic at Mahim, he demanded more. By the time the taxi reached Bandra, he complained that he was running out of gas and wanted us to alight. He kept demanding Rs 500 each,’’ recalled Deshmukh.

A L Quadros, general secretary of the Mumbai Taximens Union said, “Under no circumstances should taxi drivers overcharge. And it is shameful if they overcharged after the blast." He said that while the union could not keep a check on cabbies over charging, an appeal would be made to taxi drivers against doing such things, when the union meets next month.

“After the bomb blast, we are planning to form a small task force of taxi drivers who can help during emergencies," he said.


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