Ban the lift..!

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

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:bob­s­ban­ter@gmail.com

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