Press Freedom

In signal to Modi critic Siddharth Varadarajan, goons beat up caretaker of his flat

'Tell your sahib to watch what he says on TV,' the four men said.

Senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, former editor of The Hindu newspaper, today posted on his Facebook and Twitter pages to say that four men had beaten up the caretaker of his Delhi flat on 23 February and said, "Tell your sahib to watch what he says on TV."

Varadarajan often appears on TV news shows as a political commentator and is also the author of a book on the Gujarat riots of 2002. Varadrajan had quit The Hindu in October 2013 after the newspaper's board had decided to appoint Malini Parthasarthy as editor. A member of The Hindu board had criticised Varadarajan for not giving adequate space to articles about BJP leader Narendra Modi.

The unidentified men also issued threats against Varadarajan's wife, the sociologist Nandini Sundar. Sundar, author of a book on the Bastar region, has been waging a battle in and outside court against the Chhattisgarh government for alleged human rights excesses.

Neither Varadarajan nor Sundar were home when the attackers visited.

Varadarajan said he did not want to speculate on the motives of the attackers, and that the caretaker was not hurt too badly and is recovering. "He is shaken, more than anything else." The Delhi Police has been very co-operative and is examining CCTV footage to see if the caretaker can identify the attackers walking around the neighbourhood."

"I am making this incident public on the advice of friends who believe it may serve some deterrent value," Varadarajan wrote on Facebook.

Does he plan to watch what he says on TV? "No!" he said. "The funny thing is I don't even know what could have provoked whom because I am speaking on TV every other day."

Here's a video of Varadarajan speaking on communal violence in Gujarat.



 
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The incredible engineering that can save your life in a car crash

Indian roads are among the world’s most dangerous. We take a look at the essential car safety features for our road conditions.

Over 200,000 people die on India’s roads every year. While many of these accidents can be prevented by following road safety rules, car manufacturers are also devising innovative new technology to make vehicles safer than ever before. To understand how crucial this technology is to your safety, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a car accident.

Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.
Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.

A car crash typically has three stages. The first stage is where the car collides with an object. At the point of collision, the velocity with which the car is travelling gets absorbed within the car, which brings it to a halt. Car manufacturers have incorporated many advanced features in their cars to prevent their occupants from ever encountering this stage.

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Smarter bodies, safer passengers

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CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.
CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.

Post-collision technology

While engineers try to mitigate the effects of a crash in the first stage itself, there are also safe guards for the second stage, when after a collision the passengers are in danger of hitting the interiors of the car as it rapidly comes to a halt. The most effective of these post-crash safety engineering solutions is the seat belt that can reduce the risk of death by 50%.

In the third stage of an actual crash, the rapid deceleration and shock caused by the colliding vehicle can cause internal organ damage. Manufacturers have created airbags to reduce this risk. Airbags are installed in the front of the car and have crash sensors that activate and inflate it within 40 milliseconds. Many cars also have airbags integrated in the sides of the vehicles to protect from side impacts.

SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.
SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.

Safety first

In the West as well as in emerging markets like China, car accident related fatalities are much lower than in India. Following traffic rules and driving while fully alert remain the biggest insurance against mishaps, however it is also worthwhile to fully understand the new technologies that afford additional safety.

So the next time you’re out looking for a car, it may be a wise choice to pick an extra airbag over custom leather seats or a swanky music system. It may just save your life.

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This article was produced on behalf of Volkswagen by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.

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