Coolest psychological hacks used by the government to make us obey the rules

Ever heard of the Wadala Experiment? It was an experiment carried out by the Indian Railways in order to curb deaths related to railway track crossing. The following experiment was the brain child of a firm in Mumbai called Final Mile.

It went on to become one of the most talked about experiments in which psychology and decision sciences were used to implement policies and regulate the target audience. Here it is:

This is Wadala, an area in Mumbai where a large chunk of deaths related to rail track crossing occurred. During rush hour usually around 45 people crossed the track per minute, and the reasons for such a large number of deaths were found to be the following:

  1. Leibowitz Hypothesis : Evolution has primed us in such a way that we tend to perceive a smaller object moving fast towards us as more dangerous in comparison to a larger object moving at the same speed. This is because during our evolutionary phase, smaller and faster moving objects (lions, jaguars etc) used to kill most of the early humans, and not larger objects like elephants and rhinos. Thus over a period of time our brain became more attuned to and conscious of smaller and faster moving objects. This impairment lasts to this day, and thus people were not able to perceive the proper speed of a fast object such as a train, didn’t think of it as a threat, and crossed the railway track with complete disregard for the rules.

To counter this, the Railways painted the tracks yellow, so that the brain could use the tracks as a marker, easily register the distance being covered by the approaching train, and make conscious calculations on whether to cross or not.

2. One can’t foresee his death: In a flight or fight response, the brain stops calculating the outcome and thus most often makes a wrong decision. To add to that, one can never forsee his own death, thus it becomes important that we show a person the eventual result that shall emerge if he instinctively acts according to the flight or fight response.

The Railways made posters of how a person may die if he acts impulsively. Such posters were placed at the exact locations where mishaps recorded were the highest, thus it was able to target the audience at the most vulnerable decision making point. The posters showed a person being crushed by a train, and this image made the crosser more conscious of their death. Hence they acted more carefully.

3. Cocktail effect: Our brain can register only one sound at a time, thus if there are too many sounds, the brain automatically filters out most of them. If the honking of the train is mixed with other sounds closer to the crosser, or with the sound of another train coming from an opposite track, then he shall filter out one of the sounds. In both the cases his decision making is impaired, and that leads to him being callous to the approaching disaster.

To counter this the Railways installed a whistle at the bend. This whistle was a reminder for the motor man to start honking.

The honking had a pattern. The brain calculates the meaning of a sound in between the pauses, so in place of one continous honk, pause was given between two honks. During the pause people became conscious of the distance at which the train was coming as larger intensity of the sound meant the train was nearer and thus the danger was high. This made the crosser to be more conscious and thus evade danger.

Using the psychological tricks, the Indian Railways decreased railway crossing related deaths by 70–75% and saved ₹50 crore (the annual budget to stop railway track related crossing deaths). The whole objective was achieved by spending in thousands and not in crores. The psychological hacks used by the railways stand as a testimony of how the government can use psychology to achieve objectives at a reduced cost.


Lesser known people of India.. Do Read.. Faith on humanity restored!

Narayanan Krishnan – A Madurai born Indian chef.

He was living as a successful chef in Taj hotels, Bangalore.

He was even short listed for an elite job in Switzerland.

But a final visit to his home before heading to Europe changed his life forever.

He was heading to a temple in his car when he saw an old man under a bridge. Little did he know that this man was going to change his life forever.

The old man was pretty weak and he was so hungry that he was eating his own human waste for food.

That one incident haunted him so much that he decided to quit his job, and decided to serve the poor and mentally ill people.

In 2003 he founded a non profitable Akshaya Trust.

Till now he has served around 2 million meals to the homeless.

He also carries comb, scissors and razors and gives them free hair cuts.

He sleeps in Akshaya’s modest kitchen along with his co workers.

Since investing his entire savings in 2003, he has taken no salary till date.

The malayalam movie “Ustad Hotel” is based on his life.

Be the change you want to see in this world.” He proved it with his life.

I would like to quote one the question he asked the viewers in one of his interviews. “I would like to ask you a question that as an individual what you did. As an individual what impact have you created for society? You will see in the roadside, a BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, but on the same day you will see a homeless person. There is no bun, no burger for this person. You drive by in a Mercedes, but do you see the beggar on the sidewalk?”

In 2010, he was awarded the CNN heroes award.

Image Source: Google

Edit 1: Below is link to a Ted Talk given by Narayanan Krishnan. Thank you Prakhar Goel for sharing it with us.

The Joy Of Giving : Narayanan Krishnan at TEDxGateway


Few things about Ratan Tata that every Indian should definitely know..

There is story that presents the other side of this picture. To top it up, it happened right here in India.

Ratan Tata is the chairman of Indian Hotels who owns the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, which was the target of the terrorists on 26/11/08. Hotel President a 5 star property also belongs to Indian Hotels.

Lets talk about what he did.

All category of employees including those who had completed even 1 day as casual were treated on duty during the time the hotel was closed. Relief and assistance to all those who were injured and killed. The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav- Bha ji” vendor and the pan shop owners. During the time the hotel was closed, the salaries were sent by money order. A psychiatric cell was established in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences to counsel those who needed such help.

The thoughts and anxieties going on people’s mind was constantly tracked and where needed psychological help provided. Employee outreach centers were opened where all help, food, water, sanitation, first aid and counseling was provided. 1600 employees were covered by this facility. To every employee, one mentor was assigned and it was that person’s responsibility to act as a “single window” clearance for any help that the person required.

Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who in some manner – either through injury or getting killed – were affected. The dependents of the employees were flown from outside Mumbai to Mumbai and taken care off in terms of ensuring mental assurance and peace. They were all accommodated in Hotel President for 3 weeks. Ratan Tata himself asked the families and dependents – as to what they wanted him to do. In a record time of 20 days, a new trust was created by the Tatas for the purpose of relief of employees. What is unique is that even the other people, the railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas were covered by compensation. Each one of them was provided subsistence allowance of Rs. 10K per month for all these people for 6 months. A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor got 4 bullets in her and only one was removed in the Government hospital. She was taken to Bombay hospital and several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her to fully recover her.

This was the most trying period in the life of the organization. Senior managers including Ratan Tata were visiting funeral to funeral over the 3 days that were most horrible.

The settlement for every deceased member ranged from Rs. 36 to 85 lacs [One lakh rupees tranlates to approx 2200 US $ ] in addition to the following benefits:

a. Full last salary for life for the family and dependents;

b. Complete responsibility of education of children and dependents – anywhere in the world.

c. Full Medical facility for the whole family and dependents for rest of their life.

d. All loans and advances were waived off – irrespective of the amount.

e. Counselor for life for each person

It is funny why was this not repeatedly on the news?

Moreover, it drives attention to a rather undervalued aspect of business in this competitive era. That side is Kindness.


hope you like it

Source: What Ratan Tata did for the Mumbai victims of 26/11…. what every Indian should know!


Breaking Stereotypes – Wow! What an advertisement..

We first saw the following set of images on my Facebook timeline, accompanied by the hash tag #breakingStreotypes. I thought it was a social campaign but when I looked carefully ,turned out it was a series of advertisements for a new website Truly Madly (Truly Madly | Home ), which aims at modern matchmaking based on a compatibility assessment model rather than the societal stereotypes people in India have to encounter when trying to find a match for themselves. I think the idea is truly brilliant and the pictures say a lot.


















The complete campaign consists of about 40 pictures, which can be found here These 40 Pics Break Very Old Indian Stereotypes Which Always Consider People What They Are “Not”.This website is also the source for these.

The day when my heart melted!

She came in as a 3-day old puppy some 2 years back.She was brought home by my dad in the smallest bag that was at home.She was so cute that my sister loved her the most.My mom hardly bothered to look at her.I liked her too but not as much as my sister did (I still feel bad for not having taken a picture of that cute looking puppy).Now she has grown up so big that she could not be accomodated inside the largest bag that we have.Julie has not bit anybody since birth and I haven’t tested it on anybody ofcourse (apadi oru adimai ya thaan thaedikitu irukaen).By the way,she leads a sophisticated and contented life at my house and with no doubt I can assure that she would not have enjoyed her life like this if she had gone elsewhere.
                    For your disbelief,let me tell you about the lifestyle of Julie at my house.She will not stand while eating (paduthukitae thaan saapudum–A fact,true to the best of my knowledge),if it’s sunny outside then she would come and take rest inside the house with a bottle of refrigerated water (Mind you! This is not just to exaggerate her) being offered by my mom and believe it or not–at times she would spend the whole night inside the A.C room along with my dad,on grounds that it will get frightened if somebody bursts crackers outside (WTF!).There is a big story behind such loads of affection being showered on her.Before that,let me tell you something funny that happened after the inclusion of Julie into the family.
                    It was the occasion of my cousin sister’s marriage that my house was flooded with relatives and my other cousins.We were actually a joint family once and I have quite a large number of cousins and they were all present for the wedding.One sunny afternoon we all had our lunch and we were chatting to glory on the terrace under a small shade.My mom came up to dry out the clothes and we didn’t bother to notice her and we were busy chatting,having met after years together.Suddenly I heard my mom yelling at a distance and running towards us pointing to something with a frightened look covering her face.We were puzzled to see her this way.As my mom came closer I could slightly hear traces of a sentence shouting–“Ada paavingala aen da aen pilla ya ipdi veyil la nikka vitrukeenga…..”.I was actually standing in the sun when she said that.My cousins–“cha paasatha poliyuraangalae da mapla…”.Saying this my mom came towards me,sped past me in no time and she swiftly loosened the chain in which julie was tied near me (kaatu bun enaku! She actually meant julie who was standing in the sun and by the way she didn’t notice me standing in the crowd) and she was about to return back the same way with the same speed and acceleration.Only when she turned back she noticed that I was standing along with the group of cousins in the sun and in no time that my mom confessed about not seeing me,that each and everyone in the spot were laughing like anything and neither could I control my laughter (Avlo thaan sethaen).But it was all part of the fun.I told this just to show you the heights of affection for julie and nothing else.Eager to know the reason behind?
                     Here it is–Before a few months prior to the above incident–One bright morning,julie showed some signs of strange behaviour and she couldn’t stand on her feet and her face looked pale and she was frowning.My mom and dad were very much bothered to see her this way and infact my dad didn’t go to office that day.We took her or to say we carried her to a private veterinary clinic and they examined her and told that this was a kind of food adulteration and she has to be admitted there for atleast a week.They also added that glucose has to be injected in sufficient quantities,as she was so weak after the infection (apadiyae manushangaluku solra madhiriyae sonnaenga…adhu endha alavuku unmai nu idhu varaikum yaarukum theriyaadhu).Anyway,we admitted her and she was put inside a cage after which we started off from the clinic.All were very sad at home thinking of what julie was up to.
                     Somehow we managed to wile away the week and we went to bring back julie home and to our surprise she was still the same.She was sleeping inside the cage with her legs shivering like anything and when she heard us,she slowly opened her eyes,wagged her tail and she could not get on her feet.The cage was narrow but somewhat longer.She was lying at the farther end of the cage and was struggling to come to the other end,where we were waiting with our arms stretched towards the cage.She was actually crawling her way to the door of the cage.After a long way down the cage she reached the door and my mom and sister touched her affectionately.No sooner had they touched than julie started to literally shed tears.It was crying out.(A mixed emotion of surprise,astonishment,love,compassion and affection swirled the place).I couldn’t believe my eyes.All of a sudden my mom and sister started to weep.Uncontrolled tears ran through my cheeks (since then I haven’t shed tears for anything this emotional).This was the incident that changed the face of julie at home.By god’s grace she was alright after a few days.To say,Julie won our hearts.
 Dictum: Even after this would you expect me to believe the fact that dogs don’t possess the sense of thought?….Never ! You should have seen how it expressed its love and affection.Just the shelter that we provide her has been paid back in the form of love and affection.It’s something great and memorable that I cant remember to forget in my life.

Surprising and Amazing customer service from Amazon

I always ordered from Flipkart.

Until this one day , I installed the Amazon app just for trying.
So a few days after I installed the app,was just checking the offers and deals on the app where I got to know about the Amazon Treasure Hunt contest(for people who don’t know,its an offer where they provide a clue whose answer is a product and that product’s price is ₹ 1)

They uploaded a new clue every 15 mins and you have to think at the speed of light as the stock finishes in 15-30 seconds.I was addicted to this contest and the whole day I was trying to get something at ₹ 1.That moment finally came when I ordered a Breaking Bad DVD set for just ₹ 1 which also had a DIARY and a T SHIRT included whose actual price was around ₹ 5000 🙂

The order was delivered the next day only ,but when I opened the package I  was surprised that DIARY N T SHIRT were not included.
Being an ardent follower of Breaking Bad, I was very disappointed that the T SHIRT was missing
So I called the customer service and told them about the problem.The lady was very kind and said that they will compensate for it by giving me a gift card of ₹ 300 and hung up and I received it within 1 hour 🙂

The next thing I did was check out the Breaking Bad T shirts on Amazon.And again I was disappointed to find that all T shirts cost more than ₹ 500.So I emailed them once more saying that you compensated very less for the missing items.So this was what I received

I received ₹ 600 more.And this was within 5 minutes of writing my email.I was astonished to see such a rapid and considerate action.

I was the happiest person that day .
It goes to show how Amazon treats its customers, not just a source of earning money but with gratitude and respect.They didn’t need to do that as the product was sold for just ₹ 1 and they could have said that you have got enough for the price you paid but they didn’t  🙂

Sorry Flipkart, you lost a loyal customer that day 😉

(By Rutvik Parekh, Computer Engineering Student from Quora)