G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Yes, Yes, Yes, We Will Follow You. In One-Lac-Rupees Car.

Flavour of the decade in India is sub-one-lac-rupees car. Tata’s will make them and so will Bajaj's.

They dream: People who are walking and cycling will buy a scooter/ motor-cycle. Those who are driving two wheelers will buy sub-one-lac.

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN says in his NYT column dated November 4, 2007No, No, No, Don’t Follow Us”:

“India is in serious danger — no, not from Pakistan or internal strife. India is in danger from an Indian-made vehicle: a $2,500 passenger car, the world’s cheapest…

Blessedly, many more people now have the incomes to live an American lifestyle, and the Indian and Chinese low-cost manufacturing platforms can deliver them that lifestyle at lower and lower costs. But the energy and environmental implications could be enormous, for India and the world…

If India just innovates in cheap cars alone, its future will be gridlocked and polluted. But an India that makes itself the leader in both cheap cars and clean mass mobility is an India that will be healthier and wealthier. It will also be an India that gives us cheap answers to big problems — rather than cheap copies of our worst habits. “

PANKAJ MISHRA (Outlook Magazine, August 20, 2007):

“…The breathtaking originality and sophistication of these (Indian) thinkers and activists long convinced me that the country in which they flourished has something more profound to offer to the world than its ability to imitate the consumer societies of the West.”

Led by IT, the booming Indian economy has given young Indians the kind of money their parents made only when they won the lottery. (In 1970’s, long cherished dream of my father, a college teacher-one of the best paying job in India then, was to win Maharashtra State’s lottery that offered the highest prize of 2.5 lac rupees and retire!).

Money has brought self-righteousness- “Since I am making lots of money, what I am doing is right and moral. I don’t need any additional soft-skills. I will not mend my ways.”

Like Americans, we associate wealth with personal merit or poverty with personal failure. We don’t want to be a loser. There is no incertitude, no dilemmas. Destination is known. Road is well traveled. In a sub or super one-lac-rupees car!


Artist: R K Laxman Times of India September 1, 2007

1 comment:

Chetan said...

I have been following your blog for some time now and it is an absolute treat. I love the way you write. Your writing is very non-judgmental and exudes an indescribable warmth. Also, love the way you find a cartoon to succinctly capture the sentiment behind each post.

With regards to the current issue of sub-one lac car, I think Friedman is being simplistic when he talks about Indians following the American model. The less said about Pankaj Mishra the better. I find him to be stupendously disingenuous in almost all his columns.

Taking the example of Pune one can see why a nightmare scenario will never occur. Partly because Pune traffic is already as nightmarish as it gets. But even otherwise, when a sub one lac car does enter the market, I think the equilibrium achieved after addition of numerous cars won't be anywhere close to the American equilibrium. This is because lack of parking space will mean people use their car as little as possible. It will also mean that with more traffic it will start taking longer to reach destinations. This, coupled with more pollution and driving headaches will force people to rethink the role of public transport. Another problem is our roads are very narrow and inspite of eminent domain laws its hard to envisage massive road widening exercise. In absense of that the traffic will self-regulate. Public transport will be chosen voluntarily in such situations or carpooling groups could spring up. There will be clamour for more company buses. I see this happen already. Many of my friends in IT use company buses rather than have an additional headache of driving about 30 km everyday.

Also, another change addition of cars will entail is marketplace developing close to residential areas. Instead of going to Lakshmi road or MG Road for shopping, people would start using malls and shops closer to home to save time and driving in the crazy traffic. Already such markets, restaurants etc. are opening in subarbs such Aundh, Hadapsar and Kalyani Nagar.

Nowadays almost each pocket in the city has its own multiplex which reduces the time to travel across town to watch a movie or grab a coffee. Unlike the US where distances are huge because of urban sprawl, we have localised markets and I don't expect entry by Wal-mart or any other super store to change that. In fact, it will be a hassle to go grocery shopping 10 km away from your home when you can just buy it from the neighbourhood kirana store. If you look at Bangalore, the Reliance Fresh stores have opened in specific neighbourhoods in small spaces. This means that despite cars, increased income and mobility the emerging equilibrium and dynamics of traffic will gravitite people towards driving only when necessary, at least in the city. My point is Friedman is extrapolating based on his American experience which may not necessarily replicate itself under Indian conditions despite the entry of thousands of new cars on the roads.

So I would welcome the sub-one lac car. It will have the dignity towards the lower income classes which only markets can provide while helping them rethink their driving habits and forcing the politicians to fix the public transport system. I think it would be a helpful first step in the increasing clamour for a good public transport system. Also, it is much safer than the two-wheeler riders on bikes driving without a helmet.