The second class citizen

Pankaj Sekhsaria

There is a new hierarchy that has slowly but surely entrenched itself in India’s urban reality. It is not really articulated in that light, but it is an experience that any resident of our cities could not have missed. Get on to the roads of your city as a pedestrian or a cyclist and you know instantly that you are a second class citizen. Zooming cars and two-wheelers, blaring horns, billowing smoke, narrower footpaths, fewer trees – it is increasingly a punishment to get out on to the city roads if you don’t have a personalised mode of motor transport.

More vehicles on our roads
Vehicles are being added to city roads like there is no tomorrow and the introduction of newer and cheaper cars like TATA’s Nano is only going to add to the unyielding rush. While the average human population in six of our biggest metros increased by a factor 1.8 between 1981 and 2001, vehicle numbers increased by over six times. Last year, Bangalore recorded the highest vehicle growth rate in the country with 14 per cent against a national average of 10, and 1000 cars are being added to the roads of New Delhi every day. A crisis awaits us around the corner, if it is not upon us already.

Classroom Update

The author is an independent journalist and photographer and is associated with the environmental action group, Kalpavriksh. He can be reached at [email protected].

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