US Crumbling Down: Why America actually needs Donald Trump to ‘Make it Great Again’

On November 8, 2016, against all odds, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Even on Election Day itself, this was something that most people thought was unfathomable. Defying the entire mainstream liberal media and overcoming all opinion polls, Trump won the election with 306 electoral votes, and in the process, ending up swinging deeply blue states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democratic to Republican for the first time in decades. Now whether you agree or disagree with his opinions, you can’t deny the fact that what he registered was a spectacular victory, one that defied all odds and made everyone reassess what they were initially thinking about politics. Now initially, even I was a little surprised by how Trump could have possibly won. But after recently visiting the United States (Chicago in particular) for some work, I can understand exactly how and why Trump ended up winning this election.

For the longest time one can remember, America has always been known as the global leader in a variety of fields including, but not limited to, infrastructure. Well, if you were to visit Chicago and were to travel to Downtown Chicago from Hyatt regency, you’d come across a bridge that would say otherwise. The bridge is rusting, shoddily maintained and even shows alarming cracks. When I first laid eyes on this bridge, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Is this the infrastructure of a city as modern and urban as Chicago? Our own Mumbai Bridge, that was initiated by Nitin Gadkari in 1995, stands majestic and beautifully maintained in 2017, whereas bridges in Chicago are rusting, breaking and, for lack of a better word, dying.

And no, that bridge isn’t the only thing that bewildered me during this trip. Detroit (situated in the all too important state of Michigan), that once used to be the hub of industrial America, now lays barren and empty, it’s vacant factories rusting and dying. This America seems less like the one mentioned by all in the proverbial ‘American Dream’ and more like the one that constitutes an ‘American Nightmare’. Noticing how far the Rust Belt of America has been left behind owning to globalization and outsourcing, one can see exactly why Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania voted for Trump.

Now during my stay in Chicago, there was another thing I noticed that, once again, made me understand exactly why people elected Trump in 2016. Not too far from where I was staying, was the Trump Tower. Standing 1,388 feet tall with 98 floors, it stood like a majestic beauty and was, without a doubt, a sight to behold. Adjacent to the Trump Tower was another innovative infrastructural creation the like of which I had never seen before – an elevated parking structure, standing higher than even most buildings we’ve got back home.

Seeing Trump’s own personal infrastructural creations, and contrasting them with the dying bridges of Chicago or the barren factories in Detroit, one can start to understand why, when he ran on the pitch of ‘Making America Great Again’, he ended up being successful. Whether Trump’s liberal haters would like to believe it or not, but the USA is crumbling down and many cities, especially those located in and near the Rust Belt, are slowly dying. Just having two cities located on the coasts (New York, Los Angeles) developing and thriving isn’t enough to make up for those cities that are rusting and falling apart. And so the need of the hour for the United States is to have someone leading them who, not only understands that this problem exists, but also is aware of the necessary that need to be taken to fix it. And if the majestic Trump Tower in Chicago is anything to go by, then I can confidently say that America truly made the right choice in 2017.

उद्यमेनैव सिध्यन्ति कार्याणि न मनोरथै
न हि सुप्तस्य सिंहस्य प्रविशन्ति मुखे मृगा

Only with industry and effort is work done,
Animals never themselves dare enter a lion’s mouth.

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India Celebrates a Saffron Holi: Why BJP’s Sweep of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand is a Game Changer in Indian Politics

 

On 11th March 2017, India decided to celebrate Holi a couple of days early, with saffron being the most popular colour of choice. Whether it was the heartland of Uttar Pradesh, the hills of Uttarakhand or the northeastern state of Manipur, the BJP made decisive gains across the board, once again reinforcing the fact that Prime Minster Modi, and the party itself, is currently enjoying a popularity that is unrivaled.

While the victories it scored in all three states are equally impressive in their scale, the one it registered in Uttar Pradesh is, without question, the most stunning. The BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dynamic leadership, as well as Amit Shah’s ingenious campaign management, won a landslide 325 seats. This victory becomes even more incredible when one takes into account the vote share that the BJP won, a whopping 39.7%. When you compare that to the vote share of the SP, BSP and Congress, none of them could even cross the 25% mark. Winning a 3/4th majority in any election is no mean feat, but to win one in Uttar Pradesh, a state that has a population of more than 200 million (more than that of Brazil, England, Australia or even Pakistan) and one that is diverse across the board, is evidence enough that by and large, the country is rallying behind the policies, ideologies and leadership of the BJP.

Moving further north lies another state where the BJP won a landslide victory and took one more step towards fulfilling its vision of achieving a ‘Congress Mukth’ Bhaarat. In Uttarakhand, BJP won a stunning 57 seats, compared to the Congress’s mere 11. Such was the scale of the Congress’s defeat, that sitting Chief Minister Harish Rawat lost elections from both of the seats that he was contesting from. And if we were to go to the eastern most corner of the country, the results in Manipur are perhaps best reflective of BJP’s pan-India growth as it went from winning zero seats in 2012 to 21 seats in 2017.

Finally, with these results, all those myths of there being Muslim, Dalit or Jat vote-banks, ones that would only vote on the basis of religion or caste, are officially debunked. When you receive a mandate of this scale and magnitude, you can’t do so without support that cuts across lines of religion, caste and class. One look at the seats that that the BJP won reinforces this fact – they swept urban as well as rural regions, areas with heavy Muslim and Dalit populations, they swept the suburbs of Noida, the Congress bastions of Amethi and Raebareli, as well as all seats in Lucknow. Simply put, BJP received votes from all sections of society and considering its scale of victory, parties that solely relied on either communalization (Samajwadi Party, Congress) or caste politics (BSP), have been given a resounding reality check by the people of Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, this was also an election that has now, once and for all, made it clear that dynastic politics and parivar wad simply won’t work anymore. Apart from the symbolic losses of the congress party in Amethi and Raebareli (supposed bastions of the Gandhi Parivar), Mulayam Singh Yadav’s bahu Aparna Yadav also lost from the Lucknow Cantonment seat by 30,000 votes.

There were, of course, setbacks that we need to pay attention to as well. The mandate in Punjab was certainly disappointing, although it’s never easy to win elections when you’re facing 10 years of anti-incumbency, and our performance in Goa could have been better. We need to learn what went wrong there and course-correct our mistakes. With the reinstallation of Manohar Parikar as the Chief Minister of Goa, the first step in the right direction has already taken place.

Of course opposition parties such as the BSP and AAP are not able to fathom the scale of their own losses and so, in a bid to feel better about themselves and their political future, are conveniently trying to pin the blame on “malfunctioning EVMs.” Isn’t it funny that when a mandate goes against them, only then do the likes of Kejriwal and Mayawati raise such concerns? When they win elections decisively, such as in Delhi in 2015, malfunctioning EVMs are never brought-up?

In the end, however, the fact remains that BJP has formed the government in four out of five states, and despite all the manufactured noise that was raised against demonetization, despite all the tall claims that were being made against PM Modi’s development work, the Indian voter has given his thumbs up of approval and that too decisively.

 

अक्रोधेन जयेत् क्रोधमसाधुं साधुना जयेत् ।
जयेत् कदर्यं दानेन जयेत् सत्येन चानृतम् ॥

Conquer anger by calmness, evil by good,
miserliness by charity and lies by truth

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India shoots for the Stars: Why ISRO’s Launch of 104 Satellites Should Make Every Indian Proud

On 15th February 2017, 9:28 AM, India made history. While India’s Space Research Organization (ISRO) has always been globally known as being a pioneer in its field, no one was expecting it to achieve the kind of milestone it did last week. Not one, not two, not even ten, the ISRO launched a staggering 104 satellites into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. 104 satellites, and no you are not reading that number incorrectly. Not only is this number huge in and of itself, but it also sets a world record and that too by a huge margin, thereby breaking all previous ones that had been set by Russia and USA. The ISRO choose to use the XL variant (the same one that was used for Chandrayaan and Mangalyan) to launch these satellites that come from seven countries, including three belonging to India.

While it’s astonishing and incredibly remarkable that the ISRO was able to launch 104 satellites in one go, it’s the three Indian satellites that we really should be talking about – the CartoSat-2D, the INS-1A and the INS-1B. Weighing more than 700 Kg’s and fifth in the series of CartoSat-2 remote-sensing satellites, the CartoSat-2D is perhaps the most important satellite that was launched on 15th February, at least from India’s perspective. Its primary job is to capture and send panchromatic and multispectral images of India from space. While initially that might seem like a pretty simple task, its ramifications are pretty significant. All images that will be captured by the CartoSat-2D will be used to monitor coastal land use, as well as for urban and rural planning.

On the other hand, the INS-1A, as the name suggests, is a nanosatellite that weighs a mere 8.4 Kgs, has a lifespan of six months, comes equipped with two science payloads and will primarily be used for research purposes. The two science payloads, in particular, will be used for two primary reasons – a) tracking Single Even Upsets that occur due to high energy radiation in space environment in Commercial, Off-the-Shelf electronic components and b) taking readings of the sunlight reflected off of different targets on the earth’s surface. Finally, there is another nanosatellite, the INS-1B, which weighs 9.7 Kgs, has a lifespan that ranges from 6 months to up to a year and will also come equipped with two science payloads, the Earth Exosphere Lyman Alpha Analyser (EELA) and Origami Camera. While the former will be used to monitor terrestrial exospheric line-of-sight neutral atomic hydrogen Lyman Alpha flux and to give an estimate for the interplanetary hydrogen Lyman Alpha background flux, the later will be used as a remote sensing colour camera that can take high-resolution pictures of the earth.

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India was always taken seriously as a nation with its presence in space, but after the success of this mission (which the ISRO has labelled as its PSLV-C37 mission), it’ll internationally be looked at in a different light altogether. Additionally, considering that the primary motive for most of these satellites is to map every corner of the earth in high resolution, important functions such as water distribution, road network monitoring and land use map creation are guaranteed to get a major boost, thereby further helping pace up the speed of development work taking place across the country.

Now it’s not just the scope and scale of PSLV-C37 that makes it so special, the economic efficiency with which it was successfully accomplished is a story in and of itself. Let me give you an example to further elucidate this point. The 1995 Hollywood docudrama Apollo 13 (that depicted the journey behind America’s third Moon landing mission) was made under a budget of $52 million or around Rs. 388 Crores. ISRO’s PSLV-C37 mission, on the other hand, cost less than $15 million or around Rs. 100 Crores. So simply put, the budget of a Hollywood film about launching a shuttle into space was more than ISRO’s mission that actually sent 104 satellites into space.

When India’s populace heavily voted for the BJP and Prime Minister Modi in 2014, they did so on the platform of anti-corruption and development. Now with the resounding success of ISRO’s latest mission, one can safely assume that development has skyrocketed (no pun intended!) under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi.

 नास॑दासी॒न्नो सदा॑सीत्त॒दानी॒म् नासी॒द्रजो॒ नो व्यो॑मा प॒रो यत्।

किमाव॑रीव॒: कुह॒ कस्य॒ शर्म॒न्नंभ॒: किमा॑सी॒द्गह॑नं गभी॒रम्॥१॥

Neither existence nor nonexistence was there, neither matter nor space around,
What covered it, where it was and who protected? Why, that plasma, all pervading, deep and profound?

 

 

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The Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh

With the Election Commission having announced the dates of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, all political parties have gone into campaign mode, all except one which is still busy disentangling its…

Source: The Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh

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The Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh

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Image Credit Indian Express : images.indianexpress.com/2016/09/mulayam-family-759.jpg

With the Election Commission having announced the dates of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, all political parties have gone into campaign mode, all except one which is still busy disentangling its family crisis. Currently in power in Uttar Pradesh, not only does the Samajwadi Party and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav have to overcome anti-incumbency and resurgent state and national parties, but they also have to combat the infighting and family drama taking place within the party that is making them all look like participants of a reality show. In fact, politics in general seems to be a family affair for the Samajwadi Party. Apart from party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav who is the Chief Minister of UP, there is Shivpal Yadav (Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother and member of UP Assembly), Dimple Yadav (Akhilesh’s wife and member of Lok Sabha), Ram Gopal Yadav (Mulayam’s second brother and member of Rajya Sabha), Akshay Yadav (Ram Gopal’s son and member of Lok Sabha), Dharmendra Yadav (Mulayam’s nephew and member of Lok Sabha) and Tej Pratap Yadav (Mulayam’s grand-nephew and member of Lok Sabha). As far as SP is concerned, it seems like ParivaarWAD is the only policy they live by.

Generally in Hindi ‘ParivaarWAD’ means ‘Family Centric’ &  ‘WAD’ means ‘Conflict’. But in case of SamajWADies of UP , ‘ParivaarWAD’ means family with conflicts (Paarivaarik Tamasha)

This also explains why even one family dispute threatens to dismantle the entire party. Just in the last few weeks, we have seen Shivpal Yadav resign from the post of state president, then get reinstated by party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, then, along with Amar Singh, get sacked from the state cabinet by Akhilesh Yadav. We’ve also seen party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav expelled for six years, only to be reinstated and expelled again. The Chief Minister himself hasn’t been immune to this drama, as he too was sacked by party president and father Mulayam Singh Yadav on 30th December and was then reinstated just days later. With all this spectacle taking place, it won’t be wrong if one were to label it as the ‘Tamasha of Utter Pradesh’.

The electorate of Uttar Pradesh deserves better than this. Instead of a Chief Minister who is busy being engulfed in his own family disputes, and instead of being governed by political parties which are only interested in garnering votes on the basis of caste (BSP) and religion (SP), it’s time the people of Uttar Pradesh voted for a party that will be running an election campaign on the agenda and platform of development. For the last 15 years, be it when the Bahujan Samaj Party was in power or the Samajwadi Party, the state of Uttar Pradesh has grossly deteriorated. Be it crimes against women, corruption or lack of basic development, things only seemed to have gotten worse. In fact, according to the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there has been an alarming increase of 34% in crimes against women over the last 4 years alone and as far as corruption is concerned, the HRHM scam that took place under Mayawati’s government in 2011, where top politicians and bureaucrats allegedly siphoned off a massive sum estimated at ₹100 billion (US$1.5 billion) from the National Rural Health Mission, speaks for itself.

Communal tensions too have been at all all-time high during the past few years. The 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots were described as one of the worst instances of violence in Uttar Pradesh’s recent history, resulting in 62 deaths and 93 injuries. Not only did these riots cause the army to be deployed in the state for the first time in 20 years, but the Supreme Court also held Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party prima facie guilty of negligence. While the state was still recovering from the carnage caused in Muzzafarnagar, more communal riots broke out in Fatehpur in 2016, resulting in the injuries of 30 people. Needless to say, the current state of law and order in Uttar Pradesh has become another valid reason to label it as the ‘Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh’.

With elections just around the corner, the voters of UP have to make an imperative and integral choice, one that will directly affect their safety, development and betterment. Having to go on for another five years of lawlessness, corruption and family theatrics is just not an option anymore. It’s time they opted for change, and put the state on the path towards development and prosperity.

” satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ
satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ
yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā
yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam”

Truth alone triumphs, not falsehood
Through truth the divine path is spread out
by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach
where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

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Intolerance debate is a shrill to derail the development agenda of NDA govt

Intolerance debate is a shrill to derail the development agenda of NDA govt

  • Authentic data released by Union home ministry states NDA has reign in communal tensions much better than UPA.
  • Number of communal clashes have only fallen under NDA regime.
  • More communal clashes have been reported in non-BJP ruled states

 

At a time of economic resurgence, when NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is propelling the country towards development, there have been desperate attempts from the opposition to deviate the discourse on negative tracks raising flimsy issues. The Congress party and its allies are doing their best to manipulate facts in order to create a devilish image of an otherwise forthright  and incorruptible regime who has been voted to power on an agenda of growth and empowerment with a mammoth majority just nineteen months ago.

Not falling into oppositions trap the Prime minister has kept his focus on economic development as he believes that casteism and communalism can only be wiped out through the “amrit dhara” (the nectar) of development. Uplifting all the sections of society from poverty is the ultimate goal of this government and everyone who is part of it is striving hard in this direction.

The success of countless programmes like Jan Dhan Yojana, the ambitious scheme aiming to provide social security across sections of society, Kisan Kalyan Yojana aimed to make farming a profitable and sustainable profession, Digital India with a motto to kick off digital revolution in the country and much appreciated Make in India campaign with the goal to turn India into a manufacturing hub substantiate his claims of inclusive development. This also reels oppositions’ hoarse of ‘suit-boot ki sarkar’ into pieces.

Eventually they engaged some intellectual mercenaries to create the atmosphere of fear and animosity. The highly propagated and over-rated ‘Award returning’ (#Awardwapsi) campaign was a part of this well hatched conspiracy. There are lot of people who are actually worried about this atmosphere sought to be created in this country and who have not returned their awards and, according to me, these were probably the rewards for political consideration and not the awards, which were genuinely sought.

But data released by Union Home ministry insists that Modi government has been more successful to reign in intolerance and communal tensions than its predecessor UPA. Contrary to the claims made by opposition, incidences of communal violence have fallen drastically from 2013 to this year. The factual data reveals, number of communal and sectarian clashes have declined substantially since the NDA government has come to power.

 

*The graph is based on official figures & data released by union ministry of Home affairs

The number of communal incidents in the country has declined “substantially” since the NDA government has come to power. There has been some rise in incidents between 2014 and 2015, but government has controlled the situation far better than that of UPA’s in 2013. The established Indian definition explains that ‘major events’ are classified as those where over five persons have been killed or 10 injured or which lead to multiplicity of fatalities and extensive destruction of property. ‘Important events’ are classified where at least one person has been killed or at least 10 persons are injured.

According to the official data of union Home ministry, 644 ‘communal incidents’ took place in 2014, including 133 in UP, 72 in Rajasthan, 97 in Maharashtra, 56 in Madhya Pradesh, 73 in Karnataka, 10 in Jharkhand, 74 in Gujarat, 7 in Delhi, 61 in Bihar and 16 in West Bengal.

This year, between January and October, 650 incidents have taken place with a maximum of 139 taking place in Uttar Pradesh. While 97 incidents were reported from Maharashtra, 86 from Madhya Pradesh, 79 from Karnataka, 24 from Jharkhand, 47 from Gujarat, 59 from Bihar and 24 from West Bengal.

This has clearly exposed the erroneous and fallacious comments made by Congress leadership who trying to portray a false picture that BJP ruled states are more sensitive communally than those who are that states ruled by BJP such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh are more communally sensitive than those do not have NDA governments.

Now Congress needs to understand that the fact that the responsibility of maintaining law and order rests with the state governments and the Centre assists them in a variety of ways such as sharing of intelligence, sending alerts, advisories and deploying central forces after consulting them. Thus it is time for self proclaimed seculars such as Samajwadi Party, JD(U) and their guardian Congress to introspect and re-instate withering social fabrics amidst sections of society under control.

This clearly states India is not becoming intolerant and there is absolutely no data to support this fact. In fact, this entire atmosphere is sought to be created to malign the image of a democratic elected government. In wake of getting their political mileage the opposition doesn’t even know how it is affecting the relationships among communities and affecting India’s progress. Their formula is simple, divide the majority community by caste and polarise the minorities in the name of religion.

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Delhi’s odd/even number car days; a bad idea & non-implementable

The latest decision Arvind Kejriwal government to introduce ‘odd-even formula’ has left me and any other thinkers completely flummoxed. As per the new rule framed by Delhi government, residents of the capital city will be forced to use only odd numbered cars on three days of the week while even numbered vehicles will be allowed to ply on remaining alternate days. The logic is that this would cut Delhi’s vehicular congestion, and hence vehicular emission – arguably one of the biggest reasons for the city’s dangerously high air pollution – by half.

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Now, I am as concerned as the next person about Delhi’s toxic air quality, and I welcome every well thought out move to reduce pollution. But Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s this decision sounds more like a sensational and knee jerk – commandment than like a viable measure to curb pollution.

Beijing has, of course, implemented the odd/even number system on its streets — though some reports suggest that it kicks in only during periods when pollution levels soar to murderous proportions. The system works there because the Chinese capital has a sophisticated, widespread and efficient public transport network. So people who are forced to leave their cars behind on certain days are not overly inconvenienced.

In contrast Delhi’s public transport infrastructure is a sad apathy.  There are not enough buses and those that are there are packed to the rafters and they do not come on time. Not exactly the kind of transport a person used to driving himself to work would want to opt for.

Yes, the Metro is a triumph of efficiency and comfort, but it is yet to connect many parts of the widely spread city. There are large swathes that are still far away from a Metro station. The last mile connect between the nearest metro station and one’s house is often served by bumpy auto rides rather than comfortable buses or shuttles. There are certainly many who do not want to walk that distance twice a day on their way to work and back and wish not to submit their bones to a rattletrap auto.

Given the huge lacunae in Delhi’s public transport system, the odd/even number cars on alternate days is an exercise in futility. Non-compliance is a foregone conclusion. In any case, families who own two or more cars are unlikely to be affected. They will simply switch cars to suit the odd/even number day. The rich may even want to buy an extra car or two to get around the problem. In other words, this so-called pollution-friendly move might actually result in more cars in a city that has some 25 lakh cars already which, by the way, is supposed to be more than the total number of cars in all the other metros put together.

Besides, the odd/even number system is pretty much non-implementable. Say a whole lot of people decide to flout this splendid rule and take their cars out on a day they are not supposed to. How are the police expected to nab them during rush hour traffic? How many will they stop and fine? It’s a recipe for more corruption and the giving and taking of bribes!

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should drop this Quixotic scheme and concentrate on implementable measures which have surfaced from a citizen driven campaign #ITforParivahan to reduce congestion on Delhi’s roads and thereby its air pollution. Fixing the city’s public transport system should be his top priority. After all, most people would be quite happy to leave their cars at home and avoid the trauma of inching through traffic snarls if they could get a fast, smooth and comfortable ride on some public transport.

The government should also incentivise car pooling. In the US, for example, many cities have fast-track car pool lanes for vehicles with multiple occupants. It’s not just an energy efficient way to travel, it reduces air pollution significantly.

What’s surprising is that while the Delhi government thought it fit to ape Beijing’s odd/even number system, it has announced no attendant measure to discourage the buying of cars. In cities like Beijing and Singapore, registration of new cars is frightfully expensive, which automatically makes people buy fewer cars, thus reducing the quantum of vehicular emission.

Many developed countries also make it much more expensive for people to drive into cities. For example, Singapore has a system of electronic road pricing (ERP) where motorists are charged if they use priced roads during peak hours. Congestion charges for driving into business districts exist in cities like London, Stockholm, Milan, San Diego and many others. But obviously, city administrations have managed to makes these schemes work because their public transport systems are excellent.

Basically, by introducing the odd/even combo, Delhi government is really putting the cart before the horse. None of these measures will work unless the city gets a first rate public transport network, one that’s a viable and efficient alternative for motorists. As things stand, the only beneficiary of this system (if it’s implemented) will be Delhi’s auto drivers who will be called upon to ferry people to the nearest metro.

Delhi government’s pollution control measure will be hotly debated in the coming days. But any which way you look, it’s wrongheaded and certain to give rise to more problems than solutions.

 

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