There is no problem in procuring any type of drug in Nepal, even antibiotics, simply by asking for it over the counter. It gets even better, if you tell the chemist the general nature of your ailment, he would, in all probability, even suggest the ‘right’ medication. No one ever bothers asking for a doctor’s prescription. While most of those thronging medicine shops do have some slips, there are many who don’t. Antibiotics, as is reported, are sold easily and without checking in most third world countries, but it is worth wondering if they are as causal elsewhere.
Rules governing the sale of medicines should be well defined and place adequate safeguards as unsupervised uses of potent drugs by minors are bound to usher in harmful effects eventually. As such, the use and distribution of such drugs is often controlled by making it mandatory to carry a prescription. But, what use is that when strangely, people get residual antibiotic doses even by consuming items from unsuspecting sources like farm raised poultry products? As a pre-emptive measure, chickens are given regular antibiotic doses. The reports about the harmful effects of green vegetable produce because of rampant and callous use of pesticides are even more frightening.
Overdose usually refers to excess consumption of drugs, but this piece aims to highlight how one can suffer from an ‘overdose’ of almost anything. We are often reminded that too much of anything is bad and the urban environment provides some of the best examples about such excesses that we could very well do without.
There is nothing worse than the constant blaring of vehicular horns. This becomes even more apparent when one walks on the pavement and is subjected to incessant honking by vehicles of all makes. Each vehicle seems to be in a greater hurry than the one in front. Unable to do much, the easiest option is to blow the horn. Small vehicles do come with low decibel horns but that does not seem to be true anymore as motorbikes often have the loudest horns. The possible way to counter this ‘trigger’ happy habit is to make it mandatory for all vehicles to have lowest possible decibel levels of horns for their ‘Nepal export’ version and by making monitoring a regular habit.
Horns are fitted for a good reason and it becomes most effective if people use it sparingly. Everyone here is so accustomed to relentless honking that that no one really notices or even cares even if it is a truly genuine case of blowing the horn. Just like creating noise with your horn, using high beam without being concerned about its effect on traffic coming from the opposite side, has also become a norm here.
Rules are made keeping greater public safety in mind, as is the case with making helmets compulsory for those ridding two wheelers. But a majority of riders do not care to strap on their helmets as required. What good is a helmet then, you might as well use a discarded kasaudi, and no traffic police will perhaps even notice the difference. In an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago in Bhaktapur, a motorbike trying to evade a police check post ended up killing a policeman on duty. However, news stories next day did not mention whether the rider, who also died, had his helmet properly secured. By not highlighting such facts, it ended up being just another accident story, without any lesson. Motorbikes are also often seen carrying three people, which is against the law.
We have rules against several excesses but no resolve to check for compliance and no system to penalise defaulters in a legitimate manner. We also have a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving and a few instances of the much hyped breathalyser tests for drunken driving did help create some fear among people, but this can hardly be advantageous in the long run. There should have been blood sample tests instead, to determine the actual extent of excess. We hear that a new batch of breathalysers has arrived but these would, in all likelihood, appear during the Dashai/Tihar crackdown for obvious reason.
The drunken driving rule is a typical example of Nepali resolve, or the lack thereof; a rule pursued under whims when there is no absolute will to see it through on a regular basis will eventually fizzle out. People should be told that driving after drinking is okay as long as the breathalyser reading does not exceed a specific figure. This zero tolerance rule should not result in someone refusing to take a medicine as benign as a cough syrup in the fear of being detected as having consumed alcohol!
We have had such an overdose of politics in every sphere of our lives that no organisation is seen to be standing independently without affiliations, not even the so called nagarik samaj! With no independent, apolitical and objective organisation to worry about, political parties are acting like dictators. It is no wonder that all we have got in the last few years are empty promises, with crucial deadlines being missed on every single occasion. Our ‘resolve’ or pratibaddhatta to adhere to anything has become so diluted that it has turned as ineffective as the car horn that no one really cares about or pays heed to any more.