Much talked about Odd-Even formula ended yesterday. As people assess the impact this has had, I don’t want to talk about air quality nor do I want to talk about any political gains for any political party. There is something else that caught my eye during the lead-up to the implementation of the scheme and the aftermath, I will train my focus firmly on that.
As the odd-even scheme was announced during the fag end of last year, it became the butt of many jokes and internet trolls/memes. Without going into details, the central theme of these trolls or memes were about how citizens would work towards defeating the scheme. This, as per me, is very noteworthy. Citizens working to defeat the scheme! Many experts also predicted the failure of the scheme due to inadequate infrastructure to support it and people using their ‘jugaad’ mentality to beat the system.
I thought to myself what have we Indians, made ourselves into? Here is a city that has been reported to have the world’s most polluted air. The citizens of this city are suffering the severe repercussions of the poor quality of air, here was a scheme that was at least trying to do something with honesty and yet the general belief was that its very own citizens would work towards finding ways to beat the scheme! Whose city is this? The citizens or the Governments? On one hand we complain about everything we see around us, and yet when we get an opportunity to participate directly in improving things, we would become self-defeating? Are we becoming a set of people who forget their responsibility immediately after electing a Government and believe that Government would magically improve things without needing our involvement?
Of course, I don’t blame the people who were sure about the failure of the scheme as we have become set of people who park in no-parking, drive in opposite direction in a one-way etc. I believe Nation building cannot be entirely outsourced to Governments run by whimsical political parties. It needs a constant involvement of ordinary citizens like us more than we think.
Nevertheless, coming back to the odd-even scheme. Probably it might not have had any impact on the air quality, however where it did succeed is it made people again part of the nation building exercise. No Government can ever succeed if people don’t participate. Instead of finding ways to defeat the scheme, people found ways to make it work and weathered and inconvenience that came along with it. Of course there were heavy fines that were acting as a deterrent for people to violate, however the success was huge compared to the extent of failure predicted through the circulated jokes/memes or expert opinions.
I believe that we cannot keep complaining about everything and sit and do nothing. More importantly it is not large actions that build a nation, it is small steps taken every day by ordinary citizens like us that will go a long way in building a city/country we want to be in. I congratulate citizens of Delhi in facing the inconvenience and yet, like the capital, showing the way for the rest of the country.