The Chief Minister of Delhi has come out with a very practical idea, an Idea, whose time has come as the American would say. Anyone who says that Delhi’s air is a killer is only putting it mildly. The number of those dying of respiratory ailments on a daily basis stands today at 23, this translates to 161 per week, 644 per month and 7728 per year. The figures were half this 4 years ago.
Even if pollution levels do not worsen in future the cumulative effects of exposure to these high levels of pollution will keep pushing up the death rate and increasingly it will be the kids born today who will grow into wheezing asthmatics, inhaling this deadly cocktail of pollutants increasingly becoming unfit, as they grow, for doing anything that calls for even mild exertions. The resultant costs on medical expenses incurred by their families, in the face of the rapid withdrawal of government spend on public health will assume the shape of a horror movie gone real and it can only get worse unless something is done and done fast. Read the full article, published in Catch News, here
[This post is a response both to Aarti Sethi’s post on the BRT, as well as to Aman Sethi’s posts recently and this one earlier and as well as to some of the comments it generated.]
In 1970, Henri Lefebvre wrote: “the invasion of the automobile and the pressure of the automobile lobby have turned the car into a key object, parking into an obsession, traffic into a priority, harmful to urban and social life. The day is approaching when we will be forced to limit the rights and powers of the automobile. Naturally, this won’t be easy, and the fallout will be considerable” (The Urban Revolution, 19).
Talking about the BRT corridor in Delhi, its worth remembering many other urban clashes – Hausmann’s broad and open ways that opened up Paris in the mid 19th century, Robert Moses in New York, and Corbu’s (failed but still so real) plans for just about everywhere outside Europe. Hausmann’s boulevards were about a new kind of street for a new kind of urban formation: the boulevard was part of the birth of the industrial, capitalist city, the city of Baudelaire’s Paris and the “Eyes of the Poor” – the city of the current version of the modern that still shapes/haunts us today. Continue reading Cities, Cars and Buses: The Modern, the Ideological and the Urban
So for those of us who thought that frustrated, naive and aggressive car drivers are a caricature, Hey we at Kafila found one just for our readers. He is loud, aggressive and fuss-trated as they come. Read on …
The wonderful thing about blogging, I am told, is that it allows everyone to publish their opinions. At times however, forgive me for saying this, I wonder if everyone should. My most recent reason for this harsh indictment of the blogging world, is based on this recent post titled “This is what the fuss is about (you twit)”. The title stems from a spot of witty wordplay on one of my recent posts.
The “you twit”, I might hasten to add, is not my addition. it is the author’s impression of my arguments. While his post is reasonably, if somewhat naively, argued; his frequent abuse stems, perhaps, out of the need to get his blog read. Or maybe it is a style that is much appreciated by his readers. I will however, thank him for his incisive – if somewhat excessively enthusiastic – critique of my work.
Continue reading On dealing with fuss-tration
The sustained campaign by the elite press to jettison Delhi’s first mas transit bus system has been remarked upon and documented on Kafila. Today morning’s newspapers carries news of an accident in which 32-year old Poonam Sharma was killed as she tried crossing the road and was hit by an oncoming bus. Delhi’s record when it comes to road safety is abysmal and this is yet another instance of the the terrible and tragic fate that befalls many pedestrians every year on Delhi’s roads. What is interesting though is the way in which accidents on the BRT are reported compared to the reportage of other road fatalities. Here are some headlines from the recent past:
BRT Corridor Claims One More Life
BRT Delhi: Death Toll Continues, Pedestrians Blamed
Delhi BRT has it 10th Victim
BRT Claims another Life: Woman run over by Bus
Continue reading Of “Killer” Buses and Car Lobbies: The Coincidental Death of the BRT
Pleased with its professionally executed hatchet job on what is probably Delhi’s first real public transport endeavour that incorporates the needs of pedestrians and cyclists apart from bus users, the press seems to have forgotten the BRTS – moving on to search for other programmes to torpedo. But what was the BRTS fuss all about? Read on …
“’Experts’ order serial rape of Delhi Roads” screamed a particularly tasteless headline, in a national paper, of an article that claimed that the entire city shall be subjected to “gang-rape by greedy contractors with the benign blessings of rootless experts and supine babus.” In another widely published English newspaper, the editor in chief spoke out fearlessly against the “brutal enforcement of licence-quota raj on our roads”, denouncing what he saw as the “cynical and expensive exercise in enforcing a new kind of ideological socialism.” In another op-ed carried by the same paper, another piece spoke out against the “elitist” nature of the same project. “The masses want to drive,” noted columnist Saubhik Chakravarthy,” So reducing road space for private vehicles is ultimately elitist.” Judging by the vicious vendetta unleashed by the mainstream press, one would assume that the mild-mannered professors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, had committed a crime against the state, rather than have designed the latest addition to the city’s mass transit system.
Continue reading So what was that fuss about?