Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Pollution Solutions

Pollution is a problem that becomes worse during winter. For years Beijing made world news for pollution. This year it was Delhi.
Delhi’s pollution problem goes back to many years. Polluting industries were shut down. Diesel buses were banned. For some time it seemed the problem was over. Then the problem returned.
Diwali festival comes during winter. Bursting of firecrackers causes air and noise pollution. This year Supreme Court banned sale of firecrackers but not bursting of firecrackers. Pollution by firecrackers was less than last year.
Many measures were announced like not allowing trucks except those carrying essential items to enter Delhi, closure of Badarpur Power Plant, suspension of construction activity and ban on using DG sets. Car parking fee was multiplied by four. Delhi Government wanted Odd-Even but National Green Tribunal did not want exemptions to women, two-wheelers, VIPs and other officials. So Odd-Even did not take place.
Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is a cause for pollution in Delhi. Farmers do not have easy alternative for stubble burning. The problem continues.
This year dust storm in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq is said to have caused 40% of pollution in Delhi. Stubble burning caused 25% and local factors caused 35% of pollution in Delhi. The winds move wherever they want. They do not recognise borders between nations and states.
Central Government has announced that BS VI norms for vehicles will be applicable from 1 April 2018 instead of 1 April 2020 as was previously announced. Auto industry leaders say it is not possible to bring vehicles with BS VI norms in April 2018 as they were given time till April 2020 and were working according to that timeline. India currently has BS IV norms.
Delhi is national capital. It has headquarters of many TV channels. Pollution in Delhi gets maximum coverage. Pollution in other cities does not get much coverage.
Life must go on. Shutting down power plant and DG sets deprives electricity which is needed for work and other activities. Banning diesel cars creates problem of travelling. Suspension of construction activity results in labourers not getting wages.
Problems are continuous. When you solve one problem another crops up. Solutions have to be continuous. Solar panels will generate less electricity in winter. Windmills may be used to generate power. A solution for stubble burning may be found. Dust storm problem is a new one. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq are unlikely to worry what it does to India. They have to be persuaded to go for afforestation of deserts and dry lands. India’s capital can be shifted to Evershine City, Vasai, Maharashtra. It will reduce people, cars and pollution in Delhi.

Target Taj Mahal

There are some BJP members who want to erase all signs of Muslim Rule including Taj Mahal. For them it is not a symbol of love. One member referred to Taj Mahal as a blot on Indian culture. The talk caused outrage. UP CM defused the situation by saying Taj Mahal was built by the sweat and blood of Indian labourers.
UP tourism booklet mentions 20 sites and Taj Mahal is not one of them. The justification for that is Taj Mahal is famous and other sites need publicity. That is a good argument. People from all over the world come to see Taj Mahal. It does not need publicity.
The destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas caused worldwide outrage against the Taliban. For many outside India, Taj Mahal is the symbol of India. Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many tourists come to India to see only Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was not an invader. He was born in India. He did not imprison his father. His son imprisoned him. He was a ruler, not a traitor. He is not known to persecute Hindus or demolish mosques.
Babri Mosque demolition caused riots all over India and protests outside India. There were plans to demolish Kashi and Mathura mosques. Taj Mahal as a target is a new development.
There is an agenda. It goes beyond Taj Mahal. If they succeed Ahmedabad, Akbarabad, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Faridabad, Feroz Shah Kotla, Ferozepur, Ghaziabad, Khuldabad, Hoshangabad, Hyderabad, Murshidabad, Muzaffarnagar, Muzaffarpur, Nizamuddin, Osmanabad, Sahibabad, Secundarabad, Tughlaqabad, Akbar Road, Babur Road, Humayun Road, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, will have change of names. Urdu will be banned. Biriyani will be banned. Fatehpur Sikri, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Char Minar will disappear.
Muslims are around 15% of population. There will be resistance by Muslims and others to change of names and destruction of monuments. There was not much opposition to change of name from Aurangzeb Road to A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Road. There was resistance to change of name from Akbar Road to Maharana Pratap Singh Road and Akbar Road remained. People can continue to use old names. Names like Baroda, Bombay, Calcutta, Calicut, Connaught Place, Crawford Market, Lamington Road, Princess Street, Warden Road, Salt Lake Stadium continue to be used.

One Election for India

On 4/10/2017 Election Commissioner O. P. Rawat told reporters Election Commission is ready to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly polls from September 2018 onwards. The government wanted to know about the possibility of holding simultaneous polls and the Election Commission has replied to the government.

It is good to have simultaneous polls for Lok Sabha, Legislative Assemblies and local bodies. Modi government wants to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly polls but local body polls also should be held on the same day. One polling booth is enough for casting votes for different polls.

Holding simultaneous polls has problems in a parliamentary democracy. India should go for a new Constitution and presidential democracy. Simultaneous polls were the norm in India till 1967. After that the cycle got disrupted.

Simultaneous polls has to be a process spread over five years beginning in 2019. Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana polls are due that year. Other Legislative Assemblies should be allowed to complete their five year terms and Legislative Assemblies elected after that should have their terms expire in 2024. Similar should be the process for local bodies. From 2024 India will have simultaneous polls for Lok Sabha, Legislative Assemblies and local bodies. Lok Sabha should elect President who will have executive powers and Vice President. Ministers should be appointed by President after approval by Lok Sabha. Legislative Assemblies should elect Governors who will have executive powers and Lieutenant Governor. Ministers should be appointed by Governors after approval by Legislative Assemblies. Ministers are individually responsible to President or Governor. They continue to hold power in case of death or resignation of President or Governor. There need not be Prime Minister or Chief Minister.

Elections to Lok Sabha, Legislative Assemblies, and local bodies shall be held every fifth year from 2024 onwards on 26 April, or on 27 April if 26 April is Sunday. Vote counting should be next day at 8 a.m. New Lok Sabha, Legislative Assemblies, and local bodies will begin their terms on 1 June.

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