When the first announcements came, revealing Arvind Kejriwal’s radical plan to launch Beijing-style odd-even rule in incurable Delhi, I laughed out loud. I was driving when the radios broke the news. The Delhi chief minister has always been consistent in his sweeping remarks and ideas, and this was his latest fancy. Only this time, I thought, he killed it.
I found a complete absence of logic behind his move. Private cars contribute only five percent to Delhi’s carbon emission. Fume-farting diesel trucks and buses, and two-wheelers are the biggest suppliers of pollution to Delhi’s air, yet, they found relief. Rules are being flouted by in-transit trucks that pay off to get away… so much more nonsensical the idea was. I thought the people of Delhi would show Kejriwal the stuff they were made of.
Today is the fourth day of the rule, and was expected to be the litmus test for Kejriwal. Monday, the big working day, when a majority of people step out of their homes. With the holiday hangover gone, I was certain the odd-even rule would die a premature death.
Delhi is legendary for breaking law, it’s their fix to their dark side. But what a brilliant response to Arvind Kejriwal. There was almost absolute adherence to the odd-even rule. Traffic so smooth I felt uncomfortable. It was really unusual for Monday morning. Ever since the rule came into play, we have developed this tendency to check out other’s number plates. We have this native need for finding out what’s happening with the others. I soon realized I was not the only one following this rule. On an average, only every 15th car on the road had an odd number. It was shocking. So shocking that I became desperate for odd numbers, but couldn’t find much.
The bugger has done it again, and I smiled.
Nobody wanted to fail the Delhi chief minister. After all, he was their own leader. The fledgling politician is getting big in stature and has the potential to stay chief minister for multiple terms. It is made that much more possible because Congress and the BJP do not have anyone to challenge the ‘muffler man’. That person would have to be born now.
Pollution level has come down in the last four days. There is discipline on the roads. It’s too early, but cases of road rage have gone down. The terrible honking is down. There is less pressure on the feet to accelerate on and off and frequently shift gears in every traffic jam. The stop-start was a killer on the back too. Like I said, it’s only four days. But I want to believe in my city.
I believe following this rule will add more time to our life.