What came first - Pollution or stubble burning?
At the start of each winter, two things happen like clockwork for those of us who live in Delhi: the air becomes unbreathable, and the news fills up with stories about inconsiderate, careless, fill-in-the-adjective farmers who are burning crop stubble and making Delhi unliveable. But hold on, isn’t stubble burning a traditional practice that goes back hundreds, if not thousands of years? Isn’t in a great way to get the nutrients back into the soil for the next harvest? Isn’t it extremely cost, effort and time-effective - both as a means of disposal and soil fertilisation?
Yes, it is. So why is it such a problem now? The answer lies in the boiling frog analogy - bring up the temperature slowly, he never figures out what’s happening, but throw in some scalding hot water into his hot tub on the stove, and he jumps out. We’re the frogs in this scenario. Delhi is landlocked, which means the pollution we create needs to be cleaned up by the trees we have, and nothing else.
For those of us who grew up here, we remember a time when a traffic jam was unusual enough to dominate as a topic of dinnertime conversation. But now, well, it’s par for the course. Industrial pollution has also risen, even with all the environmental safety measures - it’s simply about the numbers. We have far more industrial units in and around the city today, than we did a mere 10 years ago. And the third culprit is construction. Ask anyone who lives around a construction site, and they’ll tell you how much dust and particulate matter ends up inside their homes, even if all the windows are always closed.
Now when you add stubble burning into that noxious mix, that’s when we Delhi frogs sit up and take notice. It’s easy to, what with all the cool satellite imagery that so clearly shows how the farmers, not we, are to blame for our predicament. Clearly, we have work to do. The time for incremental improvements has come and gone - a little reduction here and there is not going to work anymore.
What we need is radical change, radical new thought and solutions for the problems we face today. Not just in Delhi, but in the world. Climate change is no longer an intellectual concept - we see it here and now, tangibly. We need to ask more questions; demand more from our governments, and the businesses we patronize; we need to put our thinking caps on and think big; and not take no for an answer. We need to go back to the way we thought when we were kids - when everything was possible, if we just thought about it long and hard enough.
Which is why Volvo Cars is involving these minds. Last year, under Volvo Car’s Breathe Free campaign, they interacted with hundreds of school children across several schools in Delhi. The youthful altruism of these children, combined with their passion for the environment and their ability to think without intellectual baggage around what’s possible and what isn’t, birthed the idea behind the Volvo Cars Voices of Future contest.
The Voices of Future contest is open to all school children across the country, and Volvo Cars is putting together a framework that will allow these young inventors and ideators to take their fresh new ideas to fruition through internships with their partners, as well as sponsorships. This is an opportunity to contribute to the most important conversation in the world right now.
Get involved, and get excited. With enough unfettered young minds on the problem, how can a solution be far behind?
This is a partnered post.