I don't know if I can ever be like Alex. I remember how he wrote to me once that he hates development that is against the environment. We were discussing about industrialization and its after effects. That was in reply to my mail which was all about the once-beautiful tree-lined roads in Bangalore.Wide roads or narrow roads lined with shady trees? The Government does give options to choose from!
I am happy to drive on a wide road. Especially during peak hours, as I find my way through the hustle and bustle of the City, I thank the Government for its attempts to ease traffic. That is why I say I can't be like Alex. Who has kept to his beliefs, who has stood by his convictions for more than decades now. He is well into his retirement and has never owned a car to date! Wherever he goes to, he uses only public transport. Recently he was in Bangalore, Madurai, Trivandrum and Alleppey. Spent 10 days in toto and traveled only by Public transport.
To my knowledge what the Government does in Bangalore (and in many other Cities as well) is to say the least, very myopic.They widen the roads. Whatever comes in the way is mercilessly chopped. They build flyovers. Build and rebuild highways. And, then, once traffic becomes intense on the highways, they build flyovers over them and call them elevated highways.
I remember how Air, the cycling movement started by an enterprising Bangalorean struggled to reach the Government to influence them to think about cycling lanes. Air and its members tried their best to influence policy making. We cycled often and with key people like CEOs of reputed companies, got written about and spoken about in mainstream media. This was 10 years back. And look where we are now. Nowhere.
Talk about Industrialization and we end up in China. A marketer-friend of mine once went to China to identify vendors for her Company's road-navigation device. She came back and said she almost fainted seeing the condition of sweat shops in China. They did seem like really down the value chain, deep down!
Is China myopic about development? About industrialization? We are not talking about road widening here. We are talking about Cancer in China. With 25% of deaths attributed to Cancer, that too lung cancer, can China continue to aid and abet its coal-fired power plants and numerous factories that spew the most poisonous gases?
"By pursuing economic growth above all else, China is sacrificing the health of its people, ultimately risking future prosperity." This is just an excerpt from China's own Earth Policy Institute. The usual plagues of poverty- infectious diseases and infant mortality have given way to diseases of the affluent cities- they go on to say.
I am forced to agree with Alex and his tribe. As China continues its march towards Industrialization, what we realize is that the No. 1 killer in China is also the No. 1 contributor to global warming. Burning Coal. We come back to the same old belief that what is not good for our bodies is not good for the environment either.