A ‘small’ news article published on the 4th page of Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi Daily Newspaper), on dated 05th August 2017, quoted a statement of Mr. Yunus Khan, the Transport and Public Works Department Minister, Government of Rajasthan, India. Talking with the journalists, Mr. Khan conveyed that the Transport Department, Rajasthan, will soon be coming up with the new rules and guidelines with regard to issuance of driving licenses, in the state of Rajasthan. According to him, the government is planning to make it mandatory to first undergo training from the driving school, for obtaining the driving license of Two Wheeler, Four Wheeler, and Heavy Vehicle.
Further enlightening on the issue, the Minister said that many complaints have been received with respect to the issuance of licenses to untrained drivers, without any thorough examination, which in turn leads to increase in road accidents. Hence, this new rule is necessary to strengthen the road safety. And in order to implement this, the government is planning to open up new driving schools in the Rajasthan state, under the category A, B and C, as per the population of the respective district/city. [Reference: News article published on dated 05th August 2017, in Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi Daily Newspaper)]
After reading the above statement, I am sure the image of the minister, as well as, the government will stand out, on account of being so considerate about the lives of the citizens. Indeed, it’s a good move by the government to at least think on the alarming issue of increasing road accidents and take some remedial steps to curb them. In fact, if post implementing this project, the number of road accidents is expected to reduce substantially then without any further questions this should be taken up on an immediate basis.
However, the big question is that is this move even appropriate? Will it actually help in bringing down the graph of road accidents in the state? Or is it just going to increase the government’s expenditure and load on the common man, without any fruitful outcome? And above all, is this the only remedy left to reduce road accidents or was there any other cost-effective and more appropriate alternative available in this situation?
Well, I am not being negative on the issue or just criticizing for the sake of doing it. But tell me one thing, that wouldn’t this step just give a free hand to the driving schools to boom in the state? Doesn’t the Minister know that most of the licenses that are being issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) “without thorough examination” (as claimed by him) are routed through the agents and not the individuals? Providing training to the drivers is a welcome step but to link it with reducing of road accidents is something which should be thoroughly examined before taking up this project.
What will happen to all those who learn driving on their own or with the help of someone else, but not the driving schools? Isn’t it alike debarring someone from sitting in the board exams just because they have studied on their own till the secondary class? Isn’t it unfair to all of them who don’t have any certificates to show their calibre? Why can’t the government build a system which will filter the untrained from the trained drivers, without looking at the piece of paper called as certificate? What is the need of forcing this extra burden on the common man just because one of the departments of the government is not performing its duty diligently?
Mr. Minister, for your kind information, whenever an individual visits the RTO, to obtain a driving license “on their own”, they have to go through each and every single process thoroughly, unlike the case, when an agent is involved, wherein most of the processes are bypassed, to issue driving licenses on a speedy basis. Herewith, let me make it very clear that I am not pointing the finger towards the honest staff of RTO.
Mr. Minister, this is to further apprise you on the issue that most of the existing driving schools have tie-ups with the RTO agents, who in turn with their “liaison skills” manages to get the driving licenses issued by the RTO. When this is the hard-core reality, as of now, then wouldn’t a flood of driving schools in the state, indirectly result in increasing of corruption in the issuance of Driving License? Haven’t the Minister thought about this point or is it that the government choose to keep mum on this issue? Herewith, I would like to clarify that I am not pointing the finger towards the honest RTO Agents.
Now, anyone with a sane mind who goes through the reason provided by the learned minister for coming up with this idea will come to know that this step is taken only on account of the number of complaints received. He didn’t talk about any data available at their end which shows the statistics that the increase in road accidents is mostly on account of drivers who has not undergone training in the driving school. If there is any such data available with the government then I would request the minister to share the details of the same with the common man. I simply fail to understand that does the government take actions just based on the complaints received or does it ensure to back its actions against thorough analysis of the data available at their end?
As per my view, if proper root cause analysis was done in this matter than the government could have come up with a better plan to curb the increasing road accidents in the state. Making it mandatory to undergo training in the driving school is not going to help much in this case because the actual problem lies somewhere else. Now, in the following paragraphs, let us try to analyse what the actual problem is and how to tackle the same.
The actual problem to tackle in this situation – The actual problem could very well be known by going through the words of the learned Minister itself i.e. “Issuance of licenses to untrained drivers, without any thorough examination, results in the increase in road accidents”. Hence, it is very much clear that the problem is the issuance of licenses without thorough examination. The Minister has rightly pointed the finger towards the functioning of the RTO department, which is authorized to issue driving licenses. However, instead of strengthening the process of issuing licenses, what the Government thought appropriate is to give free hand to the driving schools.
This clearly shows that the Government has not done the root cause analysis in this matter. Now, trust me even if the government takes up this high-cost project, the problem is still going to remain intact because instead of treating the problem itself, the government is planning to increase it manifolds by bringing up yet another formality to comply with. And while doing so, the government simply forgot to take into consideration one important point that ultimately who is going to examine the certificates issued by the driving schools? Yes, the examination will be required to be done by the same RTO department whose functioning itself has been questioned many a time.
The cost-effective and appropriate remedy available in this situation – It is a fact that the government’s bandwidth won’t allow them to open their own driving schools in the entire state. Hence, without any doubt, the government will have to outsource this work to private organisations? Now, if the government intends to outsource this very activity itself to private organisations then how is it going to help curb the number of road accidents is what I fail to understand?
Does the government rules out any possibility of certificates being issued by the driving schools “without any thorough examination”? If the government foresees even a slight possibility of this happening then wouldn’t all this exercise ultimately result in throwing us back to square one? If yes, then there is no need to waste the resources and time in taking up this project. As per my view, one of the cost-effective and appropriate remedies available in this situation is to strengthen the controls and procedures of issuance of driving licenses. Whether a driver is trained from a school or not doesn’t matter. The issue is whether he owns the driving skills or not. So rather than diverting from the core issue, the government should look upon to close the loop holes present in the existing system, without which this serious issue of increasing road accidents is less likely to get resolved in the near future.
I hope the government answers these very important questions before passing on this load of additional expenditure on the shoulders of the common man. Yes, the cost of this huge project is ultimately going to be borne by the common citizens only. So it is a high time, we citizens question the government before they force this new rule on us. Do remember that “Everything that glitters is not gold”.
I would like to end this blog with the hope that the leaders and officials of Rajasthan Government get a good sense, as well as, get awakened on the issue raised in this blog. It is my earnest request to think thoroughly about the outcome of this project before taking it up and forcing the common man to pay the extra money and follow yet another procedural requirement.