Saturday, July 3, 2010

Girls head for 'idiot' helmets in Punjab

July 3rd, 2010
Asit Jolly
Chandigarh: Film actor Kareena Kapoor's vintage style and her red crash helmet as she rides a scooter to meet Amir Khan in the final sequence of the Bollywood blockbuster '3 Idiots' appears to have achieved the impossible in Punjab.
The predominantly Sikh state, where most women two-wheeler drivers have conveniently used religious faith as a pretext to avoid wearing helmets because this inconveniences them and spoils their hair dos, is witnessing a sudden and unprecedented demand for the old style 'Kareena Kapoor wala laal rang ka' half helmets.
Even in cities like Amritsar where traffic constables are deliberately lackadaisical in enforcing the helmet rule for fear of treading on religious sentiments, young women are competing with each other to be the first to own the suddenly stylish headgear. Shops in Chandigarh's scooter markets are again out after having replenished stocks many times since the release of the film.
The curious trend has come as a "happy surprise" for IIT Delhi alumnus, Mr Navdeep Asija, who is a traffic management expert and had been searching for strategies to best promote the use of safety helmets amongst women in Punjab. "Thank God! Girls have realised that the head is more important than skin or the face," he said profusely thanking the producers of "3 Idiots" for having achieved the impossible.
Notwithstanding the fact that the little red helmet is more a fashion statement and possibly not produced to the best quality or safety standards, Mr Asija says the very fact that Punjabi women – Sikh and non-Sikh alike – are using protective headgear "is nothing short of a miracle!"
Asija has himself gone out and purchased ten such helmets as gifts to young girls in his own home town of Fazilka, where he and his friends have been actively promoting highly successful green strategies like the ecocab or radio cycle rickshaw service.

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