August 29, 2010

Meter Jam: Hall of fame


Last week, I told the story of the dude from meter jam and the 40-odd thousand enthusiastic people who support the movement. I explained how Meter Jam is nothing but a bunch of self-important, pseudo self-righteous, completely out-of-touch assholes getting together to protest against something because their friends think it is cool and that makes them feel good! A few of you did not like my stance and this article is dedicated for you.

Why Meter Jam such a dumb idea?

I found the whole concept of Meter Jam ridiculously asinine because I know a little about how the system works
  • RTA offices in Mumbai and Pune have stopped giving new permits for autos way back in 1998! A black market for old permits flourished overnight. Recently, the RTA has allowed transfer of permits but an official transfer of permit costs Rs 25000 (exclusive of pulling some strings and wetting some beaks)!
  • Even with transfer of permits now legal, the existing permit owners are reluctant to give away their permits; they prefer to rent them out on a monthly basis and the rents go up to a few thousand rupees a month.
  • Most auto drivers do not own autos. They rent it on a shift basis (usually in 8 or 12 hour shifts) and the auto rents again are in the range of a few thousand rupees.
  • They have to bribe the police on a regular basis! Auto drivers are usually stopped because the auto is not in a satisfactory condition (broken tail lamp, indicators not working, not having the required papers etc.) which is kind of out of control of the drivers because most of them do not own the auto they drive!
  • The permit rents, auto rents, police bribes are all black money transactions. The govt. does not take those into account when setting the fare. They just come up with a number like Rs 8 per kilometer and the driver has to bear all these hidden costs.
  • In Chennai and Bangalore, a lot of police constables own autos which are rented out without proper licences and these autos get automatic immunity by ownership! 
If morality represents an ideal world, then economics represents the actual world.
- Freakonomics
So every time an auto driver refuses to ferry for a short distance, it is because it does not make economic sense and not because he hates you. A more thorough argument on these lines here @

I am not saying all the auto drivers are really wonderful people forced to cheat people for survival. Some of them are jerks. May be in cities like Chennai and Hyderabad, a lot of auto drivers are jerks. But the important thing is, they are jerks and we're not protesting against jerks here!

Why are there so many people in this stupid thing?

Now back to Meter Jam, a website where forty thousand people feel sorry about themselves on facebook because their lives are greatly inconvenienced by a few semi-educated people with a driving license! The way I see it, not all the 40,000 people are in it for they honestly feel about the cause.

Meter Jammers can be roughly divided into three groups.

1. Gormless, self important and offensively snobbish dudes and babes who have no idea about the very system they are protesting against.

2. A significant number of girls are in because it is cool to protest against something these days.

3. Horny Indian Males who signed up because there are girls are in it. HIMs spend most of their time silently hoping that taking the city bus will improve their chances of getting laid! They also try to be proactive in the discussion forums to establish themselves as the alpha-male.

The Meter Jam Hall of Fame

In the reply to "What next for Meter Jam":

Jishna on "How to deal with errant auto drivers":

In the reply to "What next for Meter Jam":

Random comments on random comments on the wall:

Amul uses the opportunity to come up with a witty cartoon :)

August 16, 2010

Meter Jam: The brave new face of Youngistan!

From time immemorial, people are duped by taxi drivers near railway stations; people are often inconvenienced because of strikes by the “unions“; People are often “taken for a ride” by auto-wallahs! We, the people of India won’t be held at ransom any more. Meter Jam is here!

In less than 2 weeks, the movement has garnered support from more than 40,000 people, most of them youngsters giving a new meaning to a bold, confident, emerging India. Forty thousand people have once again demonstrated the power of social networking media by getting together to teach the taxi and auto drivers a lesson.

However, a few people have questioned the relevance of the movement itself. To demonstrate the importance of this movement is, we present the story of “the dude”, our protagonist, a typical city dude who takes his girlfriend “the babe” for a movie on a typical Saturday evening.

There are no single screens in big cities anymore, so the dude has to go to a multiplex. As we know, multiplexes on tax holidays double their prices on weekends. The dude has to pay Rs. 250 for a stupid Akshay Kumar flick! The dude does not complain for he cannot afford to look cheap when the babe is around.

What is movie without popcorn? The babe likes it caramel flavored, the dude prefers it salted. Like a perfect couple, they buy a mixed tub. It costs 150 rupees! But dude is a smart dude, he takes a combo pack and saves 49 bucks \m/. After munching popcorn for two hours, the babe feels thirsty. The coke does not quench her thirst. The babe needs some water. Luckily, water is sold for just Rs. 30 in small airline sized bottles! The babe finds the bottle cute and the dude buys it for her.

Movie is always followed by dinner. The babe is very self-conscious about her body. She makes it a point to eat healthy. The dude being the city dude he is; knows that subway is healthy. Thus the dude and the babe decide to eat a piece of cold bread filled with uncooked vegetables popularly sold as a “sub” for Rs. 180. It tastes a little bland, so they add a little mustard, extra cheese, extra mayo accompanied by a large coke and a combo cookie (all in the name of “healthy” eating!). Another combo offer, smart dude spends Rs 500 to save 40 rupees more!

It is late and the dude has to drop the babe at her hostel. Dude does not have a bike. So the dude and the babe hire an auto-rickshaw. It is only 10:45 PM but the evil auto-wallah asks for night charge! The evil auto-wallah also has a faulty meter! But there is no way for the dude to know beforehand.

The babe is an Indian babe; she never pays for the auto! The auto-wallah asks 74 rupees for what should have been only 47 rupees. For the first time since evening, the dude realizes he is being ripped off! The dude has been “taken for a ride”. The dude knows it is never cheap to argue with an auto-wallah. Dude is now brave dude. Brave dude puts his foot down and stands up against evil people who overprice their product. The dude realizes he is being exploited only if the rippers are poorer than the rippees!

“It’s not about the 20 bucks”, the dude exclaims, “It’s about principles!” The babe is impressed. The auto-wallah is not! Soon the battle ensues. Ten minutes into the verbal battle, the evil auto-wallah emerges victorious! The dude is forced to pay 70 rupees. The dude is duped. The dude is enraged. The dude has had enough. The dude fights back. The dude seeks vengeance!

The dude has figured out a way to teach all the auto-wallahs and taxi drivers a lesson for exploiting people. And thus, Meter Jam was born. He urged everyone to boycott all taxis and autos on August 12th. As promised, the dude did not go out that day – he just ordered pizza and coke. Needless to say, it was also a combo pack and smart dude saved Rs. 59!

Moral of the story: the dude is an asshole!