Image source: timesnownews.com
One thing that struck me about the incident was the routine nature of it. A car coming from the wrong side of the road is dangerous, it leads to traffic chaos and accidents, yet it is one of the most common forms of violation that happens in front of us, and daily. An auto-rickshaw with 6 passengers, a forceful passenger in railway compartment, shopkeeper charging Rs 2 extra as 'cooling charge', etc are every day affair which when placed on a continuum of lawlessness might fall in the lower rungs yet are unlawful.
What prevents people to be that guy on the bike?
Firstly, who wants trouble?
The guy who stood up to the SUV owner went to the police station. Police has filed a FIR against the car driver. So long after the viral nature of the post is over, the guy has to go to police station for testimony, etc. This, assuming that police cooperates in the investigation and does its job diligently.
Secondly, it is not my job.
The human mind works very well to gauge a rough cost vs benefit. When an extra Rs 2 on milk packet is weighed against quarreling with the shopkeeper, writing to appropriate grievance cell and following it up, it is obvious which one is weighted more. it happens all the time in all situations and especially in those that requires things to be done while going out of ones way.
Thirdly, what if there is repercussion?
We, who consumed that video and all the drama and text along with it, do not know how well connected that SUV owner is. It is not for nothing that Bollywood has shown criminals coming back to create trouble for the whistleblower. What is happening to scores of whistleblowers in the country is a testimony to the fact how unsafe activism can be.
Fourthly, who will listen to me?
While one might know that RTO/Police/Traffic Police has to be complained against an errant auto driver, a vast majority might not know, in the physical absence of them, of how to do it. In the Indian quagmire of authorities, bodies, and more authorities and more bodies, one is barely aware of proper channels of lodging complains and thereby creating huge barriers.
Policing every part is not feasible, technology cannot be all encompassing and is often costly, incentives to be lawful are less and risk of punitive action against crime is low. All this makes for a heady mix where we average Indians pass off small unlawful activities like driving on wrong side of the road as innocuous and 'adjust' to these risks and discomfort.
That is why the Bhopal guy makes news.