US President Donald Trump has a point about Indian air quality and it is no laughing matter
People living in north India, particularly Delhi, under truly choking conditions would not really disagree with US President Donald Trump’s statement about India’s air being filthy. They should hope that this ultimate repudiation of our ambient quality and pollution in a US presidential debate might force the Central and State Governments to finally do something about it. Like it or not, Delhi’s air knocks years off the lives of its citizens and if farmers want the sympathy of the urban populace and the media over the new Acts, they will not get it till they stop burning stubble that leaves a haze and blocks sunlight every morning. The persistently poor air quality in India is now officially a global joke and our politicians’ reluctance to deal with the issue holistically because they do not want to irritate their agricultural votebank is an even bigger one. Hundreds of crores have been raised as green cess in Delhi; why is this money not being used to subsidise agricultural machinery for farmers in North India so that they can get rid of crop waste in an eco-friendly manner? The lives of our children are being ruined by chronic pulmonary conditions such as asthma and politicians are trying to blame everything under the sun but the most obvious cause. They can’t even attack the automotive industry anymore as it has moved to very low emission BS-6 vehicles now. There could soon be medical evidence to prove a direct connection between high levels of pollution and the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Say what you will about Donald Trump, he does speak about a lot of things without filtering them through political doublespeak. He was proven right about China and he is absolutely right about Indian air quality.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the political capital to do something about this and he must because inaction on this front will taint his legacy. The right to clean air should be a given and like it or not, this impacts the poor and underprivileged whom Modi and even Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claim to stand for the most. The chattering classes with access to air purifiers can afford to live with it. So whether Trump remains in office or the US gets a 46th President, the time for Indian politicians to act is now.