Ban the lift..!
DON’T raise the bridge, lower the river..’ Some years ago I wrote a play where a man is stuck in a lift midway between floors. People come to him and through the grill offer suggestions. Finally a minister comes along. He looks at the man inside then turns to the public and says he’s got a solution, “Ban lifts!” he shouts, “so such accidents never happen again!”
Mumbai witnessed a fire a few days ago in an industrial estate, where ten people died. Instead of wondering why the fire department had not stopped inflammables being stored in the building, instead of trying to see why the fire equipment was not working, the first statement by the chief was that windows should not have grills! “Hey Mr Fire Chief, without grills, you’ll have every thief in town inside our houses!”
A few years ago when a tall building caught fire the same department decided to ban sky scrapers since their snorkel could reach only fourteen floors..! In other words instead of working on getting a longer snorkel or modernising the fire department, or getting safety systems inside the structures, the city was told to reduce size of their buildings to within the reach of the fireman’s antique arm!
I wonder how the New York skyline would have looked had such political leaders existed. The Empire State Building was constructed in 1931. It was built during the height of the Great Depression. It has one hundred and three floors and has a special water system that feeds 400 fire hose connections throughout the building.
This was seventy three years ago..! Today with the world having changed so dramatically in the last twenty years we in India still behave like people from the medieval ages: “Ban the lift! Ban the lift!” we shout.
Ban skyscrapers! Ban bridges because floods may sweep them away! Ban motorways because accidents increase! Ban freedom because it can be misused..! Pause for a moment and think why our political friends love to ban: They do so because they have less governing to do. The fireman is not interested in checking the safety measures of buildings and seeing that fire drills are conducted and safety measures installed. Oh no, he isn’t.
I would like to see one traffic policeman who apprehends a motorist for cutting lanes on a highway. I would like to see when pedestrians who cross at every point on a main road are restrained from doing so. Instead we have less roads..! I remember that play so well. “Help!” cries the man trapped in the lift. “Ban the lift!” shouts the politician. “Let me out of here!” shouts the man. “Use the stairs!” says the politician. “Ban the lift! Ban the lift!” they shout, and we cheer them as we have only stairs to use..! —Email:email@example.com