India dealing with pollution terrorism

India, as we have become all too aware, moves at different speeds at different socioeconomic levels. Middle-class India, for instance, has progressed at a different clip than either the pace with which wealthy or poor India has moved. But, in one respect, the republic has moved retrogressively, making no distinction between rich and poor: pollution. The distinction has been in the ability to respond to it.

The scale of damage to quality of life and life itself in our dirty cities is hard to exaggerate. Relative abstractions like GDP and per-capita income give way to individual choice. With pollution mitigation seemingly making little or no headway, what differentiates citizen responses is the way they are able to react to such ‘pollution terrorism‘. Readers of this paper, a large number of whom are HNIs, are increasingly seeking to leave for literally ‘greener pastures’. As ET recently reported, business heads and corporate chieftains are spending more and more time in cleaner climes like Dubai and London even as they do India business. Being wealthy is having the ability to control one’s immediate surroundings and externalities. If ‘tax terrorism‘ finds businesses up and leave for foreign shores, ‘pollution terrorism’ is making those who can afford it, take themselves out of toxic geographies.

As for the rest of India that doesn’t have the option of leaving the polluted sinkholes, what of them? With actual mitigation too little, too slow – if considered a crisis at all by a largely fatalistic citizenry – it would seem that all adult Indians staying put in the grime spots have consented to a collective suicide, with children, who have no agency, essentially being signed up for slow murder. All victims of pollution terrorism.


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