The question ‘how much is too much’ doesn’t trouble the planners and the wealthy who crave for more endlessly. It’s as much a teaser for tipplers who are thirsty even after gulping a round before hitting the road.
If an inebriated person has driven 16-odd km without any “mishap” on the way, does it mean he wasn’t drunk? Could it be said that young arms dealer Sanjeev Nanda didn’t commit the grave crime that should warrant 10 years imprisonment as he wasn’t “drunk” in the legal sense of the term when he crushed six shelter-less workers sleeping on the pavement under the wheels of his BMW 13 years ago?
One of the grounds for seeking leniency from the Supreme Court was that he wasn’t “drunk” as he had driven safely for 16 km. It was a peculiar defence raised by Nanda who also didn’t have a valid Indian driving licence as he felt that driving in the UK or the US is similar to driving in the Indian conditions.
In fact it was at Nanda’s call that two judges of the top court – Justices Deepak Verma and KS Radhakrishnan — had to find an answer to the question “how much is too much” for a person for whom drinking could be a way of life. They found it hard to swallow the argument that if he had driven safely for a distance of 16 km, then it couldn’t be held that liquor had affected him too hard to drive dangerously. At what point does liquor start its effect? It’s a million pints question that troubles most of the tipplers. But to get an answer from the top court judges is rather expecting too much from them. They also felt it’s indeed extremely difficult to assess when liquor would show its effect or would be at its peak. “It varies from person to person”.
However, is it safe to believe that driving in India is as safe as speeding up in the UK or the USA? Driving remains a matter of grave concern across the world. A report suggests that India records 1.34 lakh road fatalities annually, which is among the highest in the world. While it has been reported that the number of alcohol related accidents across the world has fallen sharply by 52% from 1982, the fatalities have increased by 78%.
It trite in India, the drivers are always on the defensive due to various reasons, most important being that pedestrians seldom use footpaths or respect zebra lines or traffic lights. Motorcyclists, auto-rickshaws drivers, cyclists and street-vendors are common sights on Indian roads.
A driver in Indian roads should expect the unexpected always. This principle is of paramount importance but it’s often forgotten by the drivers who are always in a raging hurry.