Delhi's chief minister Sheila Dikshit clearly knows something we don't. And that is an in-depth knowledge of craniology. The dear lady has discerned, much to our astonishment, that the skulls of women in Delhi are infinitely hardier than that of men. This means that the June 1999 notification
that says the wearing of protective headgear while driving a two-wheeler or riding pillion shall be optional for women is going to prevail despite appeals to the courts to the contrary.
People may misunderstand the CM's motives and think that this is downright bizarre. But this is to overlook the fact that she may be driven by the desire to prove that women are the stronger sex in a subtle way. So strong, in fact, that they do not quail in the face of very real injury in the case of an accident. This could set off a trend. If helmets are not required for such a vehicle as a two-wheeler, should seat belts be mandatory for cars? Or should they be used only by the driver and not the passenger? The CM may now face a backlash from male two-wheeler drivers. They may, and justifiably so, feel that this kind of discrimination in favour of women being allowed to travel unrestrained is owing to the fact that the CM herself is a woman. They may well demand equal rights to helmet-less travel. This trend may spread. Drivers may demand greater freedom to speed, jump red lights and beat up anyone who protests. After all, these would amount to freedom of expression on the road.
We wonder what research prompted Ms Dikshit to come to the conclusion that women did not need to wear helmets unless they wanted to? Did she access some trials on the ability of women's skulls to withstand road injuries? If so, all we can say is that the scientific community across the world will bow their heads in shame that they did not realise this before. And many will then want to go down the road opened so generously by the erudite CM.