Kolkata-based driver Dipak Das won the Manush Samman award this year for not honking for 18 years in the city. He believes that horn is a ‘concept’ and wants to make Kolkata a horn-free city some day. Team Beacon Kolkata caught up with Dipak Das as he told us about his ‘No Honking’ policy.
Tell us about your No Honk mission
Driving is my profession and one day I was reading a book in my car. It was then that I came across a poem by Jibananda Das which changed my whole life. I was getting disturbed by the honking noises in the car and it was then that I realized that honking is unnecessary and disturbs everyone. I felt bad, and I thought about little kids in their mothers’ laps who couldn’t sleep because of the incessant honking. So I thought I would stop honking and see what happens.
It was hard in the beginning to not honk, and often I used to honk once or twice. But slowly and steadily I realized that there is no need of honking in Kolkata. Slowly it became my passion – that I would drive without using a horn. Soon I learnt how to synchronize time, speed and pace, and I’ve driven a lot on highways and villages and never honked.
Then I thought I’d put up a poster on my car that I won’t honk. So I wrote: “Horn is a concept, I care for your heart.” This passion has now become my mission in life.
How long has it been that you’ve not honked?
It’s been over 18 years now, and I started when my daughter was born.
Do you ever feel the urge to honk? Don’t you ever get frustrated and want to honk?
No, never. We’re educated people and it shouldn’t be that hard to discipline yourself to control the urge to honk. Why do I need to honk? It’s all people’s ego. I can say this from experience. We should be fined for unnecessary honking and the punishment should be community service.
We need to be empathetic to people who get affected by honking. Patience is the key. Let people cross the road at their pace, there is no need to honk. If you’re getting late, leave home early. We need to make these adjustments in our lives.
Since you don’t honk, how do you make other people on the road aware of your presence?
I am very attentive while driving. I don’t believe in horns, I believe in myself. If someone plunges in front of my car on purpose, then I can’t help it. But as long as I am attentive and I follow the law, I believe that I am capable of driving perfectly fine without honking.
What is your opinion on school kids who stand with ‘No Honk’ placards outside their schools?
I have personally spoken to kids who stand with these No Honk placards. When I asked them why they’re standing there, they said, “Because our Sir asked us to”. So I tried talking to the teachers and principals if they’ve done workshops, and the answer is no. The kids who stand with these placards come in their own cars to school. Have they stopped honking themselves? Have they ever asked their drivers to not honk in front of their schools? No.
What are your future plans?
I want to drive all across India without honking and spread the message of No Honking all over the country. Like I said, my passion has become my mission and this is what I’ll do till the day I die.