& occasionally about other things, too...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Traffic In the Era of Climate Change

Globally, there’s a growing movement to curb the use of fossil fuels and personal automobiles.

Urban transport policies that aim to promote pedestrian rights and dedicated bicycle lanes on thoroughfares are becoming a norm across the developed world.  

Scandinavian countries lead the world in aggressively dissuading its people from using cars and adopting the bicycle.

In Canada, too, the pedal pushers are slowly gaining acceptance, especially in Montreal (Toronto lags behind; but is catching up at least on the public transit issue).

Surprisingly, in India, a well-entrenched tradition of using public transport is being wilfully abandoned in preference for an automobile culture with all its attendant excesses that is reminiscent of the United States of the 1950s.

This is sad because urban geography in India doesn't necessitate the owning of a car. That is not the case in North America.

Here, you need a car.

To not have a car in Toronto often poses an insurmountable challenge. In Mumbai, owning a car often poses an insurmountable challenge.

But to not want to have a car doesn’t sound as weird in Toronto as it does in Mumbai.

Senior Indian journalist Vidyadhar Date’s book
Traffic In the Era of Climate Change was released recently in India.

Given Date’s incisive work as a journalist, the book will be a major milestone in the debate on formulation of urban policy and the regulating the use and abuse of personal vehicles.

Introducing the book on his Facebook post, Date writes, “I am glad to inform you that my book on the inequality and injustice in India’s transport system has just been published. It questions the automobile-dominated pattern of transport planning and urban development. It calls for a humane, people-friendly, environment-friendly shift in favour of public transport.”

Date explains, “The book shows how political and economist interests have shaped transport policies, how the car has been built into a status symbol. With my interest in culture I cite numerous examples from a wide range of creative minds ranging from Greek philosophers to Dickens, Shakespeare and Arthur Miller. Godard’s classic film
Weekend of 1967 with its depiction of a car crash, deceit and violence shows the relationship between car and capitalism. Aravind Adiga’s novel The White Tiger depicts India’s inequality through the eyes of a car chauffeur and it shows how motorists behave.”

The book is published in India by Kalpaz Publications, New Delhi (e-mail:
kalpaz@hotmail.com / books@gyanbooks.com)
Date’s photograph:  http://www.facebook.com/vidyadhar.date

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