With the rapid development, has come rapid increase in traffic on Indian roads. According to SIAM (Society of Indian Auto Manufacturers), ~1.7cr cars have been added in last 6 years. That's 17000000 cars more on the road.
That's not all. Around 42 lakh buses & trucks, 30 lakh autos (3 wheelers) & around 10 cr petrol powered 2 wheelers have been added to Indian cities & roads in the last 6 years.
Now we all know the benefits of an automobile, specially cars. Its a great family vehicle, runs in all sorts of weathers, keeps us comfortable, helps the economy grow & what not. Basically it promises all aspects of enhancing our quality of life. But does it really?
In this post I am debating that cars, when used the way they are being right now in India, are actually deteriorating our quality of life at an alarming rate. Let me illustrate how.
Economic - National Level
So we import around .77 * .98 * 35000000000 liters of petrol every year for cars & motorbikes only.
Considering current international price of petrol (gasoline) is around 89 INR per liter, you can get an idea how many zeroes are going where.
Add a similar (slightly higher actually) amount for Diesel, and that gives you an idea of what cars & petrol powered bikes are doing to the economy.
A False Sense of Secluded Comfort
The ride comfort of cars has increased dramatically in last 10 years or so. The ACs quality is excellent, Noise Cancellation (NVH values) are amazing, cabins themselves are plush with luxury. But that is all inside the car. The reality is diametrically opposite.
The roads in India are very dusty. There are piles of rubbish smelling vehemently around most of the corners. The pollution levels are insanely high. And its hot.
But the people enjoying the luxury of there plush car cabins are oblivious to these realities while actually deteriorating them as they go. Have you ever experienced an AC bus go past you with its mega exhaust hot blast in your face. We are all doing that, only slightly lesser noticeable.
My point is, we are using more of cars, because our roads are becoming less suitable to travel by two wheelers / cycles etc (anything that is not insulated from the traffic), while actually making even worse.We are trapped in a vicious loop & I just can't figure to what end.
Pollution Does Not Need A War Cry
Ok, so we all pretty much know that pollution is happening. We all are aware that air quality is bad in India (in fact, 13 out of top 15 cities with worst air quality are in India). But we are waiting. Perhaps, for some miracle to happen, or for perhaps a loud & clear war cry from pollution that now you actually need to do something about it, or IT WILL KILL YOU OR YOUR KIDS.
According to this report by IISC, transport accounts for 60% of total greenhouse gas emissions in India. And of this, 92.6% is contributed by road transport alone. Do I need say more? I don't. We need to act now.
Also, pollution is not limited to air (as mistaken by a lot in India). The amount of noise pollution created by incessant honking, non standard silencers is nothing short of traumatizing. But somehow we are happy, as the NVH levels in our car are pretty impressive.
Unlike this, bikes & e-bikes are silent. Also, being extremely agile, bicycles & e-bikes keep moving even in the worst of jams. Imagine how simple it would be if there are more e-bikes on the road than cars. Everything moving (or gliding rather) silently, with lesser jams.
The Great Indian Tragedy
As Indian economy keeps on opening up, more & more car manufacturers are entering India. For them, India is the huge market that everybody wants a share of. Just imagine, a country of over 1.3 billion people and yet we have just 3 homegrown car manufacturers (TATA, Maruti, Mahindra. and these two riding over technology from foreign partners). While companies like Skoda (coming from tiny countries in Europe) sell excellent cars & eat up our roads.
Thing is, these car companies manipulate on our dream of owning a car, regarding little for our actual need. Easy EMIs, fancy showrooms & home delivered services have made sure we buy more cars. Use them as much as possible & then buy some more.
As much as it may sound like, I am not against cars. Cars are a nice things to have. They make a lot of sense when going out with friends or family. But do you need to drive them daily to your workplace, specially when you can bike or ride an electric 2 wheeler & be a change, is my question.