Take a bow, you conscientious people of Delhi. You have proved that once the people of this great city make up their mind, no obstacle is too high, no discomfort too daunting and no political divide insurmountable.
Take a bow because you have shown the world, yes we can. You have reminded everybody yet again that Delhi has its heart and mind in the right place, that Dilli is indeed dilwalon ki.
Forgive this effusive display of euphoria and sentimentality. But, we hacks get very few opportunities to witness the good in people, the great in a society. For most of our professional lives we are condemned to deal with failures and flaws of other people, their corruption and moral decadence, their ugly masks. Rarely do we get an opportunity to celebrate collective success and strength or to look into the soul of a people. So, when an opportunity comes our way, there is no shame in getting swept away by the tide of emotions.
It is just the beginning, but prima facie evidence suggests people of Delhi have made up their mind to cleanse their environment of pollution, make the air around them less toxic and the lungs of their children healthier.
By all indications, the first day of the rationing of road space through the government's odd-even formula appears to be a success. "People are taking the rule seriously. Nine out of ten cars that on the road today were odd-numbered," The Indian Express reported.
The Hindustan Times also gave a thumbs up. "On Friday, most cars appeared to be following the rules and traffic was a tiny trickle compared to the usual rush-hour chaos," the newspaper said.
All around there were signs that people had turned the plan into a social mission. One gentleman told NDTV that he had left his car behind because the children at home had refused to eat till he complied with the new rule.
A group driving to their shops in Mori Gate said they had decided to travel together so that they do not carry the burden of ruining the new initiative on their conscience.
Housing societies shared lists of people travelling in different directions so that others can carpool. On social media, there were offers of help and cooperation.
No, Delhi wasn't following a draconian or a Talibani law; it was rediscovering togetherness, bonding over a new initiative that gives everybody a shot at a better environment.
There comes a time in every nation's life when people rise above petty selfish interests, cynicism, negativity and divisive agendas of petty people to achieve what is morally and ideologically right. January 1, 2016, was that day in the life of Delhi.
Take a bow, you wise people of Delhi because you did not cut your nose to spite Arvind Kejriwal's face, for knowing even bad politics can't be an impediment to a good environment. Take a bow, you sagacious people of this great city for proving that you put human life, environment, social responsibility and morality above momentary discomfort. Take a bow, because you proved wrong everybody who claimed people of Delhi are intrinsically lawbreakers and criminals, they will find new ways to flout the odd-even rule.
As Firstpost had pointed out earlier, road and air are common public resources; they are not our private assets. We can live in gated communities, drink packaged water, may even consume home-grown vegetables, fruits and grains but nobody in this world can have his own brand of air or walk on his private road. Everybody, regardless of caste, creed, religious identity, economic status has to breathe the same air and travel on the same road. Since all of us have equal rights to this resource, we have equal responsibilities.
Yes, this is just the beginning. Sceptics are right in saying once the initial enthusiasm wanes, the original surge of idealism, social and environmental responsibility recedes, schools reopen, offices beckon and the resolve weakens, the temptation to erase the gains made on the first day of the year would be immense.
We are living in a gas chamber. We will have to make changes in our lifestyles and mindsets. We will have to get rid of this cancer of pollution that is growing all around us. We have to remember that of all the species that have ever existed on earth, 99.9 percent have become extinct. We have to try our best not being one of them.
Don't forget, we were born with lungs, not cars.
First Published On : Jan 1, 2016 17:00 IST