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Even odd rule: Common man most affected

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By Harshmeet Singh

Delhi Government’s decision to prohibit the odd and even numbered private vehicles on alternate days was probably the biggest news to come out yesterday. The decision was lauded by many, refuted by some but ignored by none. Within hours of the news, different memes started to do rounds on the internet and the public started to voice their opinions on the social media. The speed at which the news spread highlighted the impact of even odd rule on the common man.

Delhi won’t be the first place in the world to implement such a rule. The even-odd rationing has been enforced in a number of other countries for varying reasons. In 1979, when Iran and Iraq were going through turbulent times and weren’t able to contribute to the world’s oil output, the oil prices shot up considerably. To tackle the situation, the US went for odd-even rationing, allowing even and odd numbered vehicles to buy gasoline on alternate days. Similar strategies, albeit to restrict the burgeoning traffic, have been put into action in cities such as Athens, Mexico city, Manila and Quito (Ecuador). Beijing also made use of this rule for 2 months prior to the 2008 Olympics to improve the air quality in the city.

This move by the Delhi Government comes after the Delhi High Court’s remark that living in Delhi is similar to “living in a gas chamber”. However, despite all the good intentions that are behind this decision, it is at best, a knee-jerk reaction from the government. This decision follows the controversial four-hold salary hike that the Delhi MLAs gifted themselves as an advance New Year bonanza.

[socialpoll id=”2314018″]

The new traffic rule would hit the lower and middle class the hardest while having little impact on the high-class people, most of whom own more than one car anyway. Considering the purchasing power of the affluent class in Delhi, this decision may very well result in a spike in car sales in the National capital. For the middle-class populace, who used to take their motorbike or the budget car at work, it is time to shell out extra bucks for those autorickshaws who refuse to go by the meter.

Pawandeep Singh, a resident of Dwarka in Delhi, drives to work to Gurgaon every day, along with his wife. He is ready to invest in another car to avoid the hassles. He tells NewsGram, “If I have to go to Gurgaon from Dwarka, there is no adequate metro connectivity. I would be willing to buy a second hand car with an odd-numbered number plate rather than changing multiple buses and autos.”

Urvashi Chaurasia, who lives in Saket, says that she is ‘surprised’ by this ‘mindless’ decision. In an interaction with NewsGram, she says, “I haven’t given a thought to what I would do after this mindless decision. But I am certainly not going to travel in those overcrowded buses and over-priced autos.”

The Kejriwal government seems to have jumped the gun with this decision. It should have first put the city’s public transport in order before going for such a radical step. The number of DTC buses is way below the requirement. The metro coaches are packed on most of the routes and their frequency is much lower than adequate. Both of these modes of transport fail to offer the last mile connectivity which is dearly needed in a huge city like Delhi. It gives an opportunity to the autorickshaws to make merry and demand higher fares.

The only option left for the common man to avoid much hassles is car pooling. But the deteriorating law and order situation in the city can make anyone skeptical at the thought of sharing his car with someone else. Delhi seems to be unprepared for such a move on all counts. With public transport that is nowhere near ‘world class’, the common man can’t afford road space rationing.

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India Can Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?

A total of 548 global experts on women’s issues , 43 of them from India

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BJP Leader Asks Parents Of A Rape Victim To Express Gratitude To Them
Can India Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?. Flickr

-By Deepa Gahlot

You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!

We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.

There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states.  As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes.  The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.

And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.

To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.

In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.

A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Indian women. VOA

The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.

“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.

According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”

Also read: Has Legal Framework Turned a Blind Eye towards Under-representation of Women in Indian Politics?

In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)