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Make GPS tracking compulsory

Issue Date - 15/09/2011
The automotive boom in India has also brought an alarming increase in the number of car thefts, which threatens National Economy and security in more ways than one – apart from being a huge opportunity loss on the time, efforts and investments of policy and other security agencies. The government should immediately ensure that car immobilisation devices and GPS systems are installed in all vehicles compulsorily

Harish Khare was quite tired when he reached home that night. After all, being the Prime Minister’s media advisor isn’t easy employment. That perhaps was the reason Khare decided to leave his laptop and mobile phone inside the car, when he parked the vehicle outside his house. Not many would leave their high value belongings inside their vehicles, but Khare didn’t have to worry – he stayed in the high security Alipur Road, a part of north Delhi, and his house was just a few excusable meters away from the Civil Lines police station and from the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police. What more, dignitaries like Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna and many other senior Delhi government officials also stayed around his house. Well, praise all these details for whatever they’re worth – when Khare started the next day for office, forget the laptop and the mobile, the car itself had vanished. Stolen, for the lack of a better word!

Despite of being one of the biggest automotive markets in the world, India is still years behind other countries when it comes to making cars safer and better protected. India has neither made installation of airbags compulsory for car manufacturers (which can prevent fatal accidents) nor has it passed any legislation for installing anti-theft devices in the car.

Car theft not only kills a prospective pre-owned car market but also allows an entire illegal car market to thrive – which is a glaring national security risk as well! And the time wasted by police officials in attempting to recover cars is in itself criminal.

As of 2010, India was home to more than 40 million passenger vehicles, but has also experienced hundreds of thousands of cars getting stolen every year. Estimates show that on the whole, the stolen cars are worth more than Rs.10 billion. According to official estimates, only 10% of all stolen car are recoverable (recovery of high valued cars is next to impossible, as parts of the car are sold in the black market). Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat report the maximum car thefts.

Making GPS installation compulsory during manufacturing would solve the problem of recovery of cars to a large extent. GPS devices would enable the owner and search bodies to locate the movement of the car on a virtual network. Few owners voluntarily get a GPS device installed in their cars. In many countries, installation of immobilizing devices are compulsory during the manufacturing process itself. Since 1998, all cars in Germany are fitted with this device. Similarly, UK and Finland made it compulsory in 1998 while Australia and Canada made it compulsory in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Back home, companies like Maruti, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Ford are installing anti-theft devices in select models only.

A legislation making such anti-theft device installation compulsory – much like how insurance is compulsory – would enable security agencies to free up precious time they currently waste on recovering stolen cars. The cost of such devices – ranging around Rs.10,000 odd for GPS trackers – is too little when compared to the time, effort and investment saved.


Sray Agarwal           

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