Monday, August 20, 2007

The 1 lakh car :: Time to take care

Time: 1 or 2 years ago.
Place: My home, Bangalore, India
TV Event: Ratan Tata announces the all ambitious 1 lakh car project.

I was watching the above announcement live on TV. When I heard that Mr.Tata is gonna give India a car for just a lakh of a ruppe, it took some time for me to digest the fact. And after that I thought. WOW. Mr.Tata is close to fulfilling one of the most cherished dreams of an Indian middle class family - OWN A CAR.

Time: Yesterday
Place: My home, Bangalore, India
TV Event: Ratan Tata announces that the 1 lakh car will be available to India by June, 2008.

I watched the above announcement on some news channel. I thought again, WOW. But this WOW, unlike the first WOW, was only for one more day.

Time: Today
Place: My home, Bangalore, India
TV Event: None.

This morning I started at 10 in the morning from my home in Kanakapura road to my office in Brigade road, a good 12 kms from my home. I reached my office at around 11.15 AM. One and a half hours for 12 kms. After I reached my office, I was doing my morning internet browse of the usual web-sites - Rediff, NDTV, EconomicTimes, IBNLIVE etc. While I was browsing through the Economic-Times website, I noticed this interesting article on TATA cars. It said that in a few years from now, TATA would be the biggest manufacturer/exporter of small cars in the world, commanding a huge 25% share in the world market. The next one was Mahindra-Renault and the other Indian companies in this list. That evening, I came back home and after a few dosas for dinner was sitting in my balcony and started to think. INTENTLY...

The points I considered to its merit were the following
  • TATA's one lakh car is definitely a WOW for all those deserving Indian middle class families, who've been earning for a luxury living for a long long time. No doubt.
  • TATA's one lakh car is definitely a WOW for TATA motors, who would become the world leader in small car manufacture and exports
  • TATA's one lakh car is a definitely a WOW for Indian economy. India would be the global hub for small cars and probably a automobile giant in the making and towards greater glory as a world power.

All the points mentioned above about India moving towards global economic supremacy was making me jump with joy, when suddenly the counter-argument twin brain inside me took over. My twin brain started asking questions that may make feel sad, the same average Indian who felt elated by the 1 lakh car. What are the questions? Here they are:
  • TATA's one lakh car - Is India's road infrastructure(especially the city road infrastructure) ready to handle this explosion of new vehicles to hit the road?
  • TATA's one lakh car - Is India ready to make available the extra fuel that would be demanded by the sudden explosion of new vehicles to hit the road?
  • TATA's one lakh car - Is India ready to balance out the tremendous environmental impact the emissions from these news cars that are gonna explode into the market?

Unfortunately for all these questions, the resounding answer was "NO NO & NO ONLY".

I have consciously decided not try to blame any person or organization or the government per se. My job is to raise questions and thats exactly what I will do in the lines to come...

  • If India would be the next AUTO-HUB of the world, then why did it not take steps to amend the road infrastructure(specifically city road infrastructure) in our country?
  • India is a energy deficient country. Our oil-pool deficit huge compared to say a country like Russia. In that sense, has anything been done pro-actively to tackle this additional fuel needs that might arise (or) has anything been done so that these vehicles use alternate fuel modes for their operation?
  • India contributes to just 1% of the global pollution. But its a developing country. And in the years to come, the emissions are just gonna increase. Are there any steps taken to tackle this impending environment menace? The government need not foster research et all, but at least it can give sops to companies making or to people who are ready to buy environment friendly vehicles. Brazil is an excellent example of a developing country following development with minimal cost to the environment. Fact is that Brazil has a significant percentage of its vehicles running on BIO-FUELS.

I would let you, the readers, to ponder over the answers for these questions.

But in the midst of these questions, one very important question still lingers deep inside my mind and comes back to haunt me again and again and again.

"Why is it always that our dear Earth a casualty whenever there is an opportunity for the development of humanity?"


coolkrishnan said...

Your post unfolded in a very unique style. I enjoyed it.

And the topic is very timely too. I too have had similar thoughts.

An over populated country like India should seriously develop public infrastructure esp public transport.

TATAs are businessmen. They cannot be expected to worry too much about the nation.

Above all, the value system of an average Indian needs serious revival. Greed and immorality is fast increasing. That is more serious than air pollution.

If India becomes a super power, will every Indian own a car ? No ! That line of thinking is seriously flawed.

Keep writing da.

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