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Diwali Reminds Us Of Urgency To Fight Deadly Pollution For Availing Demographic Dividend

We need a permanent shift in our modes of transport. Mass rapid transport is one way


The festivities or smog causing darkness for days after Diwali, what is more concomitant with Diwali in modern times is a question that is increasingly getting difficult to answer.

One almost gets shivers on the thought of the thick smog that had enveloped Delhi and some other cities for days after Diwali last year with practically no sunlight.

Man has reached a situation with the use of fossil-fuels that he himself has started choking and in the quest to find the solution to the problem that is of his own making, he has started to limit the use of cars and private vehicles and adopting more environment friendly means of transport.

In a country like India which houses 13 of the 20 most polluted cities of the world, according to WHO, such attempts are more meaningful as India demographic dividend of world’s youngest population base cannot be wasted. The country has a population of 120 crore and around half of them are below the age of 30, and this huge army of young works can be deployed to make India a world economic, military and scientific superpower. Hence the population cannot be saddled with burden of disease, which comes in plenty along with pollution, lest we should be throwing away the chance of becoming that superpower.

Already pollution has started to an unprecedented toll on human lives. Air pollution is taking away two lives every minute in India, according to latest studies. Not just that, it is also causing whole lot of other health conditions like asthma. One in every three children in Delhi has reduced lung function because of air pollution. These conditions are weighing down on the population, both emotionally as well financially and the disease burden could well derail India’s growth story.

There have been some attempts like road rationing scheme like odd-even. Even the recent decision of the Honourable Supreme
Court to disallow the sales of crackers in Delhi NCR for a considerable time both before and after Diwali is an attempt to keep a check on pollution. But these are very short term measures and have limited scope.

What we need is a permanent shift in our modes of transport. Mass rapid transport is one way. Another way is promoting environmental friendly modes of transportation. Cycling can be a very effective spoke in the entire wheel of environmental friendly means of transportation.

There have been many attempts in Europe and other parts of the world to promote cycling with exclusive cycle tracks and the experiments have yielded viable results in reducing pollution and also promoting health.  

Apart from tacking problems of pollution, cycling can also help in fighting congestion that many of the Indian cities are facing, not to mention the parking woes in cities and urban centres.

Cycling has also shown remarkable results in making the bones stronger, a desired thing especially among children. It can also makes unhealthy hearts healthy.

There are many innovations in cycling designs and output. There are electric assist bicycles that augment the physical efforts of the rider and can really be the answer for travel for short distances within metros and urban centres as they can take the rider to office without too much effort or sweating.

A lasting solution has be found for the young generation to bloom and to live life that they rightly deserve and take India to a new glory.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Pankaj Munjal

Pankaj Munjal is Chairman and Managing Director at Hero Cycles.

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