ODDities and EVENtualities

No prizes for guessing what this is about. The title pretty much gives it away.

In a bid to reduce atmospheric pollution and improve the ambient air quality, that, thanks to the joint efforts of the common man and successive governments over several decades, has snowballed out of control, the Delhi government has decided that, beginning 1st January, only cars with even numbered plates will be allowed to run on even days and odd numbered ones on, you guessed it, odd days.

Their hand has been forced. They have had to resort to take this step because other, more reasonable, permanent measures, that would permit the common man the luxury of choice, have never been tried, and hence can be classified as totally ineffective. Like charging a substantially higher price for gas-guzzling vehicles. Like a road-pricing system that deters driving and parking in the city. Like an enforcement of simple traffic rules such as parking to ease needless jams. Like closing down illegal factories. Like regulating construction activities in the city. What is the government to do?

A similar mandate had once been issued in the capital of a big country, to the North and East of ours, with an even larger population. My fellow common men and women had marvelled at how quickly they had been able to take decisive steps, without bothering about process and consensus, in the interest of the nation, and how we have been mired in bureaucracy while attempting to take similar steps.

As soon as Delhi Chief Minister (CM) announced that cars with odd and even numbered plates will be allowed on odd and even dates, without bothering too much about process and consensus, my fellow common men and women have broken out in criticism, of the CM taking unilateral decisions without respecting the democratic fabric of our society and the impact of such decisions on the common man.

That the decision has been well thought through and all possible angles examined is evident from the fact that the government has promised to repeal this arrangement by the 15th of January, if the common man is inconvenienced, pollution be damned.

For the convenience of the common man, emergency vehicles, ambulance, fire, hospital, prison, hearse, enforcement vehicles, vehicles of paramilitary forces, Ministry of Defence, pilot and escort, vehicles of SPG protectees and vehicles bearing diplomatic corps registration numbers would be exempted from this rule. As will be the vehicles of the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Governors of states/ Lt Governor, Chief Justice of India, Union Ministers, Leaders of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, Chief Ministers of states except Delhi, judges of Supreme Court and High Court and Lokayukta.

As, indeed, will be vehicles of persons with disability, two-wheelers, buses, CNG vehicles, women drivers with women co-passengers and children upto 12 years of age and vehicles of persons in a medical emergency carrying proof; like a body, perhaps.

The remaining vehicles, if any, will be managed by a posse of cops withdrawn from other unimportant duties around the capital where they are deployed despite not being required so that they can be withdrawn on a whim, as well as an army of volunteers, drawn from their various important tasks of doing nothing.

In order that the arrangement gets a “trial by fire” in real-life conditions, schools in Delhi have been ordered shut till 15th January in order to decongest roads.

The Delhi government hopes to launch an App for car-pooling and giving lifts to strangers. In a display of responsible governance, it has appealed to people to avoid giving lifts to strangers for security reasons.

Meanwhile, capacity created on roads, if any, will be quickly absorbed by making new, bigger buildings, with even more grossly inadequate parking spaces, and narrowing down passageways with the help of unauthorised parking. As was so effectively done when the Delhi metro came into being and took away, we are told, some load from the roads. While absorption of road space has been planned for, it is not yet clear how the reduced pollution, if any, will be replaced, so that another hurried decision, to reduce it and save the lives of common men and women, can be taken in the future. The CM has appealed to the common man to play his part if he desires to be saved again in the future.

Vilified they may be for taking this decision, one has to grant, even if grudgingly, that the Delhi government has taken a bold step. And, in doing so, they have opened up a gloriously simple and effective path for solving many of the internecine problems plaguing the world, so that we can live together and happily, if not ever after, at least longer.

Crimes against women, committed by men, as they almost always are, will soon be history. The state government is about to issue a decree to permit men and women out on the streets on odd and even days. Only persons with disability, women with other women and children upto 12 years of age, persons in a medical emergency carrying proof, paramilitary forces, SPG protectees, diplomatic corps, the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Governors of states/ Lt Governor, Chief Justice of India, Union Ministers, Leaders of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, Chief Ministers of states except Delhi, judges of Supreme Court and High Court and Lokayukta, will be exempt.

We can look forward to a future of rock-solid fixed-line quality connections on our mobile phones. Only even numbered phones will be allowed to function on even days, and odd numbered ones on odd days.

Death caused by irresponsible use of private fire-arms will be reduced to half by permitting only arms with an even-number registration to fire irresponsibly of even days, and, you guessed it again, odd-numbered ones on odd days.

This could change the world.

It already is changing the world. Fighting to be in the race to save the world from drowning in pollution, a village in Italy has banned the making of pizzas in wood-fired ovens, while Japan has banned smoking between 9 AM and 12 noon on weekdays. In an effort to not get left behind in the race to save the world, the Nordic countries have come together to ban walking and cycling and introduced a steep tax on all cars that are not SUVs. Found wanting in their ability to further improve the quality of their air, they hope these steps will position them well to contribute to this noble cause when the need to save the world arises the next time.

While the city celebrates, a citizen group has struck a sour note by asking the Delhi government for a refund of half of the road-tax car owners have to pay at the time of buying a car. “If you are not permitting me to use my car half the time, you can only charge 50% of the amount,” is the logic.

But the government is not letting such trifles worry them. After all, they have the power of inadequate assessment and hurried decision-making on their side.

26 thoughts on “ODDities and EVENtualities

  1. As most of the unbiased opinions on subject, author too seems confused here atleast for a casual wordpress reader like me.

    So, you agree on odd-even rule in principle but you wished implementation at a later date with better planning, public consensus, and lesser exemptions? Is it so? That’s most common critic voice.

    I don’t know but most ‘quit smoking’ initiatives have been successful only when you quit at once, rather than gradual withdrawal. Delay or procrastination on one or other ground would never make it happen, and what better date than resolute new year.
    Happy New Year Sir!

    • Do I appear to be confused? Or, did you mean that I am able to confuse the casual reader? Then I am in the wrong job. I should be a politician. What do you think?
      Now you have confused me. Did I sound like supporting the odd-even rule?
      Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting. And for your wishes. Wish you a happy new year as well.

      • Yeah. I am usually an avid reader who loves noseying and commenting which may sometimes look offensive or critical. So, I might be atleast one reader who read it word-by-word and yet stood confused in the end. This may have two meanings- one, I have poor comprehension; two, prose itself is confusing (and three, just criticising for the sake of it 🙂 Not sure about you, I would surely make a non-diplomatic blunt poor politician.

        Please don’t mind and may ignore me.


      • Or, four, the subject, life, is itself confusing. We make of it what we can with our limited vision. Like the four blind men who felt different parts of an elephant and described it in entirely different terms.
        I am grateful for your comments. While Likes are always welcome, Comments is what makes the blog a living, breathing thing. And, like they say, if two people agree all the time, one of them is superfluous.

  2. Oh my goodness. What about cricket? The toss of the coin and the winner choose. Do we only score odd runs or even runs, Or are you only allowed to score off every second ball. You have opened a real can of worms here my good fellow. This could see the end of the only proper game in the world. Except maybe haggis hunting. What about cricket? I am devastated.

    • Now that I know it is you, I can confidently say that I could detect faint similarities between your and Suchled’s writing styles. It might just be accidental. You would have noticed that cricket has anyway become an odd game. Or more even, depending on how you look at it. India wins every other Test series. The one played in India. And loses the next one. The one played out of the sub-continent. Coincidentally, the same is true for SAF, Aus, NZ and Eng. So, the odd and even rule may have been introduced to the world by the noble game of cricket. The game thinks ahead. It has a bright future.

      • I remember talking to my kids about those times that arise when “you have to do what you have to do”. Sometimes, you just can’t turn your back because the price paid is too great. For me, that’s often been guilt. Not worth it.

    • You touch upon a pertinent issue. Despite noises professing tolerance, equality, etc., it seems that the space for being your own separate person is reducing. One needs to be extremely self-assured to reject being a part of the herd. Ironical and almost counter-intuitive.

  3. Wonderfully written, you bring out the absurdity of such political decisions beautifully. What happened to democracy ??? Or does the even odd rule apply to democracy too?
    What a witty write-up!

    • Thank you Pragati. Glad you liked it. In my view, though many political decisions are absurd, eventually it is our, the common man’s, responsibility, because leaders come from the same stock. We will get the leaders we deserve. Best wishes…

  4. I sense a great business opportunities for women who have cars and children under 12 years old, since they can drive other passengers on every day. And even if the women choose not to open taxi businesses, this law will instill India’s men with newfound appreciation for women, and possibly increase the birth rate of the new children under 12 years old.

      • Well, if they’re girls, they could count as “other women”. If they’re boys, they’re obviously not of much use unless they can get into the diplomatic corps or the Supreme Court.

      • Makes me glad I am not a male-child growing up in 2016 and looking at a bleak future beyond the age of 12. Limited options as you point out. Unless, of course ISIS gets its act together in time.

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