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Forbes Column 2009: Silencing India

Posted on Monday, Jan 5th 2009

I am on my way back from India, writing from the Singapore airport lounge. I think we missed to highlight my last Forbes column, Silencing India, which discusses the serious problem of noise pollution in India.

Have a look. Someone in the comments suggests banning cars altogether. Perhaps unrealistic, but reducing the number of cars on the streets of India’s metros is certainly a necessity. Smart cards, congestion taxes and new street designs are all tools that, if applied as part of a comprehensive traffic management solution, can improve the quality of life in Indian cities.

This segment is a part in the series : Forbes Column 2009

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The main problem holding India back and what stops many solution implementation is corruption. How can they implement a taxation scheme if it can be avoided through bribery?

David Neubert Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:40 AM PT

I agree with @David’s comment. A lot of issues in India point back to corruption. This is compounded by inept government officials and lack of political will.

I think corruption can be solved to a good extent by pervasive IT. Meaning – if all the forms that people file in government offices are electronic, then the progress of the application can be easily tracked and most importantly, this will prevent the interaction of corrupt officials with people. By reducing these touch-points, corruption will reduce. Further, if these applications can be filed remotely – say from rural areas and local center’s, the role of middlemen will be greatly diminished.

Lastly, people need to take charge of holding their politicians accountable and force them to be responsive. Strong people’s participation will signal the politicians that they are in the end very much beholden to citizens who elected them in the first place. The politicians will then represent the people and not themselves thereby strengthening the political will to bring about positive change.

Laxman Rajagopalan Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 11:40 AM PT

Sramana, I think the noise pollution has a lot to do with the rising amount of impatience, intolerance and even anger that is never far from the surface.
Bhaskar Ghosh writes about this in a recent article in Frontline.
Delhi government, where I reside, has recently banned plastic shopping bags and it is working well. CNG-run buses have been a long feature on Delhi roads and everyone agrees that all these measures have made an impact.
Delhi also ran a recent campaign on “non-honk” day with moderate to low success.
I know Delhi schools have long been teaching kids the virtue of “cracker-less” Diwali and this year’s Diwali was definitely the quietest I have seen in many years. With political will, Calcutta can definitely implement a lot of these ideas and reduce pollution of all kinds.
Won’t do much for the anger/ violence that Bhaskar Ghosh writes about; but, I will take what I get.

anindya chatterjee Friday, February 13, 2009 at 12:27 PM PT