In Ignorance We Trust

PollutionVictor Hugo famously said, “…The human intellect is always on the march, or, if you prefer, in movement…”The last quarter of 2008 will refresh the controversy which had plagued the newspapers just before the Sensex decided to ride the roller coaster. It was Tata’s famous 1 Lakh car- Nano. The name spoke about the size and the price. Criticism rained on the car like sixes in a T20 match. There was no respite. A few who took shots at it were CEOs, celebrities and of course several economists, including the famous Thomas Freidman. Freidman said the Nano should be burdened with taxes to make it difficult to get. Freidman is the same man who wrote The Earth is Flat– talking about even playing fields in competition!

The Sydney Morning Herald called it a bullock cart on wheels. Many movie personalities chimed in by critiquing it and calling it unsafe. One called it a danger to the environment, and something that could increase gridlocks, just before jumping into a Land Rover.The same celebrity also drives a Hummer and Jaguar to boot and did I talk about the Private jet? It is a typical case of ‘pot calling the kettle black’!Why blame Nano for congesting roads? Have these celebrities refused to star in commercials for SUVs. A total of at least 30 cars are scheduled to hit the road this year, I am sure they will ply on the same road as the Nano. I am not here to ramble on about how fantastic the car is, but a few things need to be addressed in the same breath as this concept. Are we so serious about the environment? Are we making any efforts to get the old Autos and Taxis off the road? Mumbai is plagued with both of them bellowing a rain cloud of black smoke and soot. Have we taken to the roads asking the authorities to deny license to any new Auto? Only God himself can explain why  there are so many of them on the road !Do the governments subsidize electric cars or even hybrid cars? The government vehemently opposed building of the Nano plant in West Bengal!When did we last stop to adopt a new method of traveling? We ape the music styles and movies from the west; we pledge to turn our cities like others in the world. Let us start by adopting the car pool lane philosophy, where a “single person car” is not allowed in the fast car lane, the ones in the car pool lane should be heavily fined.

We can adopt the London Congestion charge- where, to travel on certain roads, a toll is required. How about a steep 100 rupees per drive on that road? Obviously carpooled cars get half priced! All this money then can be used in developing the infrastructure (which we crib about constantly) or maybe to build a few flyovers or fill some pot holes.

Yes, the congestion charge might put a strain on the Vote bank of the seat being contested. We do need a brave leader to stand up to the challenge! All of us can make that change; a little each day could push us from the brink of self annihilation. It is after all not the earth which is in trouble, it is us! She will survive us, the question is will we survive our suicidal tendencies?Its time we woke up from our luxury induced slumber, to look at change as something positive, to realize that to reach the top of the food change we evolved.A band known as Hatebreed said in one of its songs- “If you don’t live for something, you’ll die for nothing.”Lets us inherit the earth instead of a bleak future which awaits us!Patanjali Pahwa

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