Responding to The Bride’s comment, I realised I might as well write a new post.

Bribes, here is my problem: the point of fines is to punish people for contravening a social contract, and act as a deterrent from making those violations. By this definition, yes it doesn’t matter.

I’m letting my objection to violating said social contract stay out of this.

The other thing with fines is, they are a source of income, along with taxes, which many people evade in India. Those fines end up paying for flyovers, repairing potholes, building pavements, buying buses, etc. Granted, with corruption etc possibly half that money reaches its destination, if not less. Again, set aside the problems with corruption and suchlike. To have the kind of infrastructure one wants from a city, to have an MTR, you need the fines to go to the government, because the more that goes in, the more that eventually makes it way to the destination.

That’s why I always pay fines.

They went through this period where they were writing down the license numbers of cars who ran traffic lights, parked illegally etc. But of course we were all bothered by this because frankly what’s to stop someone from just making up a number or randomly picking numbers to have a quota filled? Camera surveillance is the best option there. But cameras are expensive to install at traffic intersections etc, and don’t work for parking violations and so on. They did install a few here and there, but they hit upon the simple yet brilliant solution of giving the cops digital cameras. So one is now treated to the sight of a policeman slowly walking down the street in a measured way, taking a photograph of every car that’s violating parking regulations. Some time later said person will receive a complicated legal letter that allows him/her, among other things, the option of compounding the offence* by paying the fine. Hilarious, no? But effective.

They also have them at major intersections with a lot of violations in a particular direction. By them I mean the skinny cop with his trusty digital camera, taking pictures of people running lights, etc. I’ve often wondered if I could just take a few myself of people driving the wrong way, making illegal u-turns on the flyovers, etc., and submit them. The next step maybe? Perhaps if Chandrababu Naidu was around with his e-obsession.

One thing that worries Appa occasionally is how, if you promptly pay the fine, you seem to get more. Of course they have photographic evidence of the violation, but there are about 5 people committing it at the same time as you, so do they send you the ticket because they know you’ll pay? While I agree that if you’ve committed a violation you should indeed pay, the trouble is that half the time it’s extremely difficult to know you’re committing one. Many of the major traffic lights in our side of town are off most of the time, with a policeman directing traffic. Often there’s one directing even when the light IS on, and if the cop is waving you through to run the light, can they then ticket you for it? There are lots of these weird lights on T-junctions, where the people going along the top of the T shouldn’t have to stop, but the light will be red, and if you DO stop a cop will furiously wave you on…so which of those lights are supposed to be obeyed and which aren’t?

Etc.

*Yup, compounding. I did a few double takes myself, and though wait they DON’T want me to pay? But BBot explained to me that there’s a complicated and clearly archaic nomenclature in place that defines offences are compoundable and non-compoundable, where compoundable offences can be adjudicated by the police inspector/superintendent and can be settled by pootling down to the station and paying your fine. Non-compoundable ones have to go to court.

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