I left home for work at 7.30 am and landed in office at 9.45. All thanks to Mumbai’s traffic. I am obviously not excited about the people’s car right now.
The world’s raving about it. The general public is believed to have loved it at first sight. India, it seems, has made a mark in the international automobile market. Applying for 34 patents for the car is proof enough of the kind of scientific /technological breakthroughs this car has acheived. I am with you in celebrating this achievement. But I worry too much about the social implications.
If everybody will be able to afford a car, they are naturally going to ditch their good old scooter/motorcycle and invest in a four-wheel drive. That means cars will become a bit like what cell phones became a few years back- omnipresent. Are our roads equipped to take that kind of traffic? No way! (Driving to my office one day will give you a fair idea of what I mean). We don’t have sufficient space on the roads. We don’t have the best traffic sense. And we most certainly don’t believe in following traffic rules (especially if the much-revered pandu is not seen lurking around some street corner). With more and more reckless drivers bringing their cars onto the roads, the roads are only going to get more unsafe. More traffic would mean higher stress levels on the roads, possibly added road rage and definitely higher pressure on the handful of traffic policemen who direct the traffic. This is just what will happen to our roads, I haven’t even started talking about the environmental effects. Using up of higher quantities of fossil fuels, higher expenditure by the nation on crude oil, increased air and noise pollution. And God only knows what else. Somehow these thoughts don’t make me too happy.
But isn’t this what development/industrialization is about? We displace hoards of people to set up industries. I don’t agree to that but can I do without industrialization? No. The Nano is a exceptional feat, there is no denying that. And it surely makes the country proud to have designed and manufactured the cheapest car in the world . Plus, isn’t an affordable car essentially about upward social mobility? So why should we ‘prevent’ people from moving up the social ladder?
What’s more important for us? Environment or development? (Note to social worker friends who read my blog: Please don’t stat a discussion about “what is development” here , puhleeease!) I don’t know. Right now both seem important to me.
If after reading my non-conclusive ramble about the Nano you are up some more reading , go here to read an interview of Ratan Tata. I like the man but I still don’t know if I like his car!