The great boon that is automobility is set to spread to India, with the introduction of a family car that will cost only $2000. Naturally, the rajahs of the environmental lobby is apoplectic at this keenly-anticipated extension of people power:
“It will be a total disaster,” said Anumita Roychoudhury, an associate director at the Centre for Science and the Environment in New Delhi. “One person dies every hour in Delhi from air pollution-related diseases and most Indian cities have pollution levels that are twice the permissible limits.”
Sudhir Bisht, a Delhi resident, said: “India doesn’t need more cars. It needs better public transport.”
The people of India seem satisfied that the benefits of automobility outweigh the possibility of increased emissions:
India has only about 10 cars per 1,000 of its 1.1 billion population, compared with Britain’s 445 per 1,000. There are just 11.7 million cars on Indian roads, but that figure is increasing by a million each year, thanks to the country’s skyrocketing economy.
Ratan Tata, 69, the chairman of the family-owned company, believes he has hit upon a “dream” design, which, if successful, will inject even more dynamism into India’s economy by giving millions of people independent means of travel around their vast country.
Throughout history, it has been the rule that a richer country is a cleaner country, as richer people are able to afford environmental improvements. Mr Tata may not only have provided a spark that will eventually clean up India’s air, but he may have provided the impetus for a richer country being able to build sea defenses around the Ganges delta, eradicate infectious disease, provide greater food and water security and protect endangered species (for instance, by the radical Indian solution of privatizing tigers). That’s the power of wealth for you.