Friday, January 11, 2008

Nano Car… Giga dreams…

Yesterday was a historic day for India. We did what the rest of India and the world tagged as ‘Impossible’. We launched a production car that would cost just USD 2,500 or GBP 1,250!

It was all over the news channels. Most of them were rightfully optimistic about it. Sahara Samay, between about 9 and 10 pm, started a debate on whether we actually need this car… A reporter was also sent to Singur (where the Nano will be manufactured), to seek inputs of the locals there. They also showed footage of protestors burning effigies of a car (that looked more like a bus) to express their opinions. Sunita Narayan was spewing venom enough to burn out the entire ozone layer. And many more reactions – some negative, but an overwhelmingly large number were unable to express their pride and joy in this achievement. I am a part of that majority, and I would like to look at some points put forward by the other side.

“It will lead to congestion.”
No doubt about that one! The already choked roads will have to accommodate more cars. That’s the point – We will have to gear up infrastructure to accommodate them. In the same vein, if there were a lack of jobs, do we stop education? No! We create more jobs, right?

“The environment will take a beating.”
Well, the Nano has lower emissions than most two wheelers. So, this argument is incredulous!

“People should use public transport.”
I agree. I would too, myself if the person who says it (Sunita Narayan) shows me how to do it. I bet she would not have stepped into a blue-line in Delhi and come out happy.

“The diesel version will be the last straw.”
Hmm… From whatever research I have read on the topic, diesel is far less harmful than petrol when it comes to harmful emissions. There is a higher percentage of particulate matter, which is nothing more than carbon.

“The farmers will be displaced.”
The farmers who came on to Sahara Samay last night claimed that they used to earn upto INR 70 per day working the fields of Singur. If they are willing to learn a new skill, I am sure they will be able to earn double that. And look at what the plant will do to the future of their children… Better quality education, exposure to a new trade, the hope for a better future…

“We do not trust Tata Motors.”
Whom do you trust then? I hope they realize that they are talking about a company that reinvests 67% of its profits back into the society. That this company is leaps and bounds ahead, in ethics, of the number two company in India. That this company has given India its many firsts – Airlines, Internet, Locomotives, Steel, and the list is endless.

So what does the Nano symbolize? It symbolizes the dream of a visionary. He saw a family of four struggling on a two-wheeler in the rains and decided to do something about it. Most of us wouldn’t even give that sight a second glance. And despite the prices soaring upwards, he has delivered a $2,500 car that a family can afford. Why? No one could have said it better that Mr Ratan Tata – “A promise is a promise.”


Sue said...

Love the title...Love the post have valid points...but I'm still a lil' scared as to what will happen to the Punjagutta crossing in Hyderabad once the Nano comes. Only someone who crosses it every single day will feel my pain...

But yes, from a macro point of view, it's a great step for thousands of lower income Indian families.

The Walker said...

I would like to quote Jaitirth Rao here:

"Privileged environmentalists and planners are not against cars for themselves."

So, the ball is now in the court of the governmants... They wtill have about nine months to go. lets see who will stand the test...

Pretty Hyperbole said...

Pish posh! I consider it a feat worth being proud of for India! Personally, I love Indian culture and history! I wrote my thesis on Imperialism in contrast to a popular novel, Passage to India by E.M. Forster. And I will be sure to tell my students what a wonderful thing happened in India the other day. I'm sure they'll be excited about it! :)