KSRTC Buses : An Exercise in Futility
Indigenous Upliftment or Tourism Boost?
POLITICS. Ahh... the redundant term in all our lives. If you've ever travelled by bus, particularly in Kerala (India), you could easily empathize with me. I'm talking about the locals here who commute daily by buses (provided by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation). The state capital (Trivandrum) is virtually supported on pillars of democracy. Ahem, obviously the term is so loosely used these days that I've started doubting its meaning.
The first rain shower is so pleasant, with the earthy aroma of soil permeating your senses, intoxicating you with the heady scent of wet grass and cool water. Well, poetry aside, the start of monsoon is really not a happy scene for me. The bus stand, the roads, the gutters and all that comes under the PWD (Public Works Department) are flooded with water. It is exaggeration to talk about pseudo-floods with the first shower itself. However, the situation is too damn gross to be not discussed. No matter how strong an umbrella or all covering raincoat you own, commuting by those primordial contraptions called buses is a hassle.
If it isn't the knee deep water at the bus station, it's the hair cracks in the buses themselves that can turn you into a wet chicken in mere minutes.
The procedure of boarding the KSRTC buses is another interesting story. If one can envision crows around a dead fish, well, the picture fairly resembles the one that I see every day on my way to college.
I'm proud to say that I'm a crow myself and a swift one at that. No matter how many senior citizens you elbow, school kids you suffocate, the dilapidated window seat at the front of the bus is a shining beacon that pumps adrenaline faster than any motivating speech. It's only after you snake your way through beefy drunkards and annoyed aunties that you find your prize already claimed by another. Now, the adrenalin rush and excitement just seems a waste of valuable time.
Well, if not a seat, then a comfortable spot to stand. Ah, but the conductor and driver must stick to the oath that they have taken over the years of service. The vehicle with a capacity to seat 60 passengers must at least be stuffed (literally) with at least 600. No matter how long half of the commuters be forced to float in air, the bus will not move an inch unless it has developed an adequate tilt of fifteen degrees. One can surely dream of a shining India if some courtesy is displayed for poor automobiles at the least. Of course, courtesy is not meant for fellow human beings. Khaki and Khadar are symbols of law, legislation and all other political terms that escape my train of thought at the moment. The common man is the one to be looked after.
I had imagined for a long time that serving the country itself incorporated a little bit of social service. With time though I've realized that my imagination has gone wild over the years. The party or group doesn't matter, but the one that can begin to resolve problems at the smallest scale (like transport) is indeed the justifiable face of democracy. No matter how much of a majority you may win by, it is the service provided to the public that defines any political family. The sorry state of affairs has compelled me to not exercise the right to vote, till at least some improvement is seen. Even if low-floor luxury buses may triple with new year, the common man will indeed suffer for the coming years. An air-conditioned vehicle for a tourist is a small gain over the total lack of order in ordinary buses.
Let’s not forget that while panting for tourism boost, we may lose out on approval of our own people. Independence is a joke and democracy a mockery if the voters themselves are neglected.