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  • Horn OK please

    by Rohin
    26th June, 2006 at 3:01 am    

    This story has popped up in a few places, but on Friday, the now 10-year-old Slate ran a piece about a new World Bank/New York/Chicago paper examining corruption and driving in India.

    The researchers stated that equivalents of the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) in different countries exist to ensure that all drivers are safe. The hypothesis studied was that corruption in this system will produce bad drivers. Guess what? It does!

    India was ostensibly selected as corruption is famously and quite openly rife; hence easy to study. Three groups were followed closely, in New Delhi. One used whatever means necessary to get their licence (bribes, hiring agents to take care of the paperwork), the second received driving lessons (which should make them the best drivers) and the third control group used no bribes nor received lessons.

    37% of the control group got a licence
    45% of the group who took lessons got a licence and
    65% of the bribers got a licence and also saved their own queueing time by hiring agents to do the legwork for them.

    This largely predictable result was intended as a case study for the effects of corruption on a regulatory system, be it the DVLA or the government. Slate links the findings to the World Bank’s assertion that corruption “among the greatest obstacles to economic and social development. It undermines development by distorting the rule of law and weakening the institutional foundation on which economic growth depends.” [Link]

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    Filed in: Culture,Economics,India

    11 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Vikrant — on 26th June, 2006 at 8:04 am  

      Ummm this is an old story… On average 30% drivers on Indian roads wont even have a license!

    2. Vikrant — on 26th June, 2006 at 8:11 am  

      Anyways can anybdy explain the enigma behind “Horn Ok Please”?

    3. Taj — on 26th June, 2006 at 9:39 am  

      Use of the horn is vitally important when driving in India. It’s the way that other drivers make their presence known (especially when overtaking). So, I suppose ‘horn please’ is a request on behalf of the big truck-wallahs to keep on tooting.

    4. fotzepolitic — on 26th June, 2006 at 10:27 am  

      Wiki link to possible Horn OK Please definition. Also, cute video for song with that title.

    5. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 10:35 am  

      Yeah not much suprise there. Of course there are other obstacles to ‘social development’ - like the World Bank itself.

    6. Katy Newton — on 26th June, 2006 at 10:46 am  

      My friend got her driving licence in Kenya where you didn’t have to take lessons or even bribe anyone, you just bought one and off you went. Driving with her is a hair-raising experience indeed.

    7. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 11:18 am  

      well //free market and all that./.. heh hehe. Surely the neoliberals should approve!;-)

    8. Lady Madonna — on 26th June, 2006 at 12:00 pm  

      Without having read the wiki - it’s actually ‘horn please, ok’.

      Some drivers will also have ‘wait for signal’ painted on the back.

      Basically (and as someone has stated), it’s a way of the driver behind the truck not only signalling to the truck driver that they are behind them and want to overtake - but for the truck driver to then look ahead and make sure the road is clear for the overtaking driver.

      There is also a well known hand jesture for oncoming drivers that looks a little like a royal wave… as you see a driver approaching on the opposite side you offer the jesture which means ‘are there police / is there a police block - up ahead?’.

    9. justforfun — on 26th June, 2006 at 9:27 pm  

      Yep - th horn is the most important item when driving in India. If your horn fails, then you cannot drive - it is literally that simple - The horn is used to notify any vehicle in front that you are behind them and will be attempting an overtaking manouver at any time. As you are overtaking you keep the horn depressed as you pass - paaaaaaaaaaaaarppppppp, especially trucks, so they know you have not yet got past and are still going for it. If you stop pressing the driving of the truck with out being fully past the truck, he will pull back into the middle of the road and send you into the verge. Most roads out in the country are only single lane so trucks stick to the centre at all times untill they get fed up with the horn, and then they pull over.

      Driving in India is actually very easy. You need three things - a working horn (if possible fit a triple air compression truck version and then they think you are a truck pullingh up behind), car control and a knowledge of your place in the pecking order. There are no other laws. Trucks and Buses have lots of accidents with each other because they have not yet worked out who is top dog. Below trucks in the pecking order come mini buses & jeeps, then cars, then putputs then motorbikes, then scooters then bicyles. Each just gives way to the one bigger. Its really as simple as that. I love driving in India, but would never go in anything other than a jeep.


    10. Aparita — on 27th June, 2006 at 6:58 pm  

      Man, I miss driving in Delhi. So much fun! Everyday was like a rollercoaster.

      The truck signs were always fun to read. There is of course Horn OK Please. As well as stuff like - Buri nazar wale tera munh kaala.

      But I loved the road signs too - Lane driving is sane driving. There was also something about drinking, which I can’t remember right now.

      There is, of course, the corruption in terms of getting a license, etc. But the corruption doesn’t stop there. Take the cops, for instance. The number of times my friends would use their DIG father’s name or slip a Rs. 100 note to get out traffic violations - unbelievable.

    11. kisan — on 1st July, 2006 at 7:11 am  

      Yes, it’s true. I went for my license twice without paying any agent and got failed twice on small technicalities. Then I ran out of time and used a broker and got a pass easily.

      The first time in the queue a software engineer explained how he was using a broker to save time and energy.

      However someone with even insufficient driving skill and no proper knowledge of the road rules can pass also by this payment system.

      That’s what devalues the Indian license and makes many countries not accept it. It isn’t racism but common sense not to accept an Indian license as signifying driving skills.

      There have been some police efforts at cleaning this up but not effective as far as I know. Only it has raised the bribe prices.

      Another part of the dodgy licenses is that you can get one with absolutely no proof of anything by getting an affadavit saying you are so and so born at so and so on such and such date. Then you need address proof which can also be easily faked.

      Once you get a DL then you can get all other documents like bank account etc. So for perhaps 500-1000RS you can construct a fake identity and then get a passport using the same documents.

      I know because I did it for someone who had no proof of identity but we used their real name, birthplace etc but without any proof at all. I could have kept any name, birthplace and birthdate and all would have passed.

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