Ashwin Sundar, a race car driver, was killed along with his wife in a car accident on 18th March. He was driving a BMW. The fabled case from 1999 where an industrialist Suresh Nanda's son Sanjeev Nanda ran over a total of six people, including policemen. Just recently in January, a man driving a BMW crashed into a Uber taxi, killing the driver in South Delhi. This month too, four people were injured after a speeding BMW crashed into an Uber taxi and an auto rickshaw. The 1999 hit and run case was extended for about 12-13 years and since Sanjeev Nanda was driving a BMW, it left a profound imprint on the media and hence on people's minds as a 'BMW accident'.
The car involved in Salman Khan case was a Toyota Land Cruiser, but it was never called the 'Toyota accident' because the Bollywood star's name was heavier than any brand name. Another such incident was the Mumbai hit and run case, where Alistair Anthony Pereira, the scion of a family of realtors, crashed into a group of people killing seven and injuring eight. He was driving a Toyota Corolla, but again he was never referred to as the 'owner of the Toyota'.
In January, an Audi Q7 rammed into an auto. Four persons were killed in the accident, and the case was popularly christened 'Audi accident'. Most of these cases involve driving under the influence of alcohol or rash driving, and in no way can the car or the car maker be held responsible. In fact these high end luxury cars are higher on safety than most cars on Indian roads. So, why does the make of the car become so important if one from a luxury brand happens to crash?
A reason behind this phenomenon may be a general lack of faith in the country's justice system. A man's car describes his stature. A common belief has sunk in deep in our minds that if the car involved is a BMW or Audi or Mercedes Benz, it will have come for a lot of money, and hence the owner will be able to influence the system and run free.
Highlighting the brand of the car is a gentle reminder that the owner is financially strong enough to create himself an escape route from facing criminal charges. Then there is also a firm belief that all rich folks are spoiled brats.
An accident is an accident. It doesn't matter what car it was or the person driving it was a celebrity. India is high on the list of countries with the most traffic fatalities. The country is so used to reading news on accidents that we barely pause to notice, but if it is a high-end luxury brand, we expect a prolonged court case.