My Book Launch India Tour (Part 2) – 2017

Indian cities are well and truly choking, and heading towards a complete gridlock in not too distant future, due to ever worsening traffic congestions in most, if not all, Indian cities.

One does not need to have a PhD degree (in liveability) to see the current sorry state of liveability in the country or predict its future catastrophic state. One just needs common sense but, unfortunately, common sense is not so common.

Indian basic school education is mainly rote-based, so ‘common sense’ is not encouraged to be developed and used as adults. Most people make their opinion(s) based on what is fed to them by the social media, the television and the politicians. Unfortunately, in many cases, the literate and educated people fail to see the obvious. People rely on the information fed to them and fail to see the obvious. They have not learnt to use the right half of their brain to imagine and comprehend.

Sickening Traffic Congestion

Roads and streets can be likened to the blood vessels of a country. Choked roads indicate the country is choking, as noted in my book, Issues White-anting India. India must urgently control her traffic congestions and an alarming population growth rate.

On 27 November 2017, it took us about three hours to reach from NCERT’s Delhi campus (Aurobindo Marg) to reach New Delhi Railway Station. With just half a minute remaining, we boarded the train. It was just like a thriller – rushing against the time. We encountered a paralysing traffic jam near Safdurjung flyover for more than 45 min, due to some VIP’s presence in the area. Later, another paralysing traffic jam in Connaught Circus, caused by a protesting procession of a religious community and the inefficiency of the traffic wardens, forced my driver, Jagjit Singh, to take several internal, heavily trafficked, streets in that overcrowded part of Delhi. Later, to add to the drama, with barely 12 minutes to go, he was forced to park his car at distance of about 500 m from the station. With a strong sense of urgency, he took our luggage out from the boot of the car and desperately stopped the traffic in both directions of a crowded road to enable us to cross it. He also helped us to move our luggage to a cycle rickshaw, after which we (the taxi driver included) ran to the station and reached there with just five minutes to go. My wife and I, each carrying two bags, then ran frantically to the head of a seemingly 50 m long queue to reach the x-ray machine to scan our luggage. Thereafter, we ran up the escalator and, on reaching the bridge, kept yelling out for the platform number of our train and miraculously boarded the train with just about 30 seconds to go. What a thriller? It is not hard to guess that many people (old, sick, children and women) would have missed their trains. Does anybody care? One can only imagine how worse is the future scenario going to be!

Prior to magically boarding the train, in just the nick of time, we had almost given up and mentally reconciled to stay overnight at a hotel located in the vicinity of the railway station. A young army officer also boarded the train in the nick of time. He had left his parent’s home, at Dwarka, four hours prior to the scheduled departure of the train. Undoubtedly, he was furious… He wished the Indian army had the opportunity to govern the country for just five years!

Indian politicians (and so called VIPs) seem to have lost touch with the reality of life faced by the ordinary citizens. The only way to make them see the reality is if they are made to commute, on a daily basis, like all other ordinary Indian citizens – through heavy traffic and clogged streets and roads – without the assistance of traffic wardens, who keep their roads open and cripple other commuters in the process. They must not be provided with any flying services, in particular, the government’s taxpayer-funded helicopters to commute short distances on their unscheduled trips, which they are currently seen to be doing, similar to what the erstwhile royalty would do in the past.

Most taxi drivers and service providers across India seem to be switched-on well. Their fingers seem to be well and truly on the pulse of the country – her general health and liveability. Their feelings / message / thoughts are quite distressing.

One taxi driver in Delhi told me that Indian cities will definitely choke in the next five years. That means I have been rather optimistic with my 2-decades’ choking period warning in my book, Issues White-anting India. This person desperately wished for some form of Divine intervention, such as massive earthquakes, devastating floods, outbreak of diseases and even a nuclear (world) war to break out, so that the population could reduce. He did not show any trust in the country’s politicians and the leadership.

Another taxi driver wanted strict regulations on the production and sale of new vehicles. He also wanted the regulatory authorities to closely look into the bank lending processes and questioned why banks chase and lure people into borrowing money easily from the banks to buy more new vehicles.

A 29-year old taxi driver said he scored himself 10/10, on the happiness scale, about eight years ago but only about 5/10 now. He said he slogs 17 to 18 hours every day (3 pm to 7 am) to support his family. Growing traffic woes – due to growing affluence of some sections of the community, overall human greed, show-off of the rich, continued migration from the villages, a constantly growing population – have been making his life difficult and unhappier with each passing day.

A Mumbai taxi driver requested me to meet Mr Raj Thackrey (Politician) and Mr Nana Patekar (Actor) and seek their help to help the country.

Population & Liveability

I have received a consistent message from each and every individual in India whom I have spoken with and who has interviewed me – about a continued struggle, constant depletion of happiness and a sharp increase in anxiety and mental depression, general helplessness and frustration. People are increasingly becoming more reactive for their survival.

Too many people, struggling for survival, are pushing away everyone else to move ahead in a perpetual survival rat race in India. This behaviour is clearly seen on the roads, which are the veins and arteries of the country.

An ever increasing ‘demand to supply’ ratio (due to an uncontrolled population growth and growing affluence of some) and competition, intertwined with a sickening tendency of the relatively more affluent sections of the community to show-off, continues to erode the traditional patience, forbearance, tolerance and inter-human relationships in the country.

India’s roads and traffic congestion, along with the people’s behaviour on the roads, and road bullies, reflect the country’s current values and the general state of country’s health.

Honking, which means show of no respect to the fellow commuters, and which is considered extremely offensive in the west, is acceptable in India. People frequently honk and bully other commuters. A perpetual rat race … but to where?

Indian city dwellers are fast moving (in the next 5 to 10 years) into a lifestyle wherein they will be working 10 to 12 hours a day and commute 8 to 10 hours a day for work, leaving just 2 to 4 hours for the night sleep and family time. What a life?

Undoubtedly, India needs drastic measures to improve her liveability, otherwise…

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