Delhi’s Odd-Even: what we overlooked…

As the odd even is being implemented, do we even know what is happening around or do we – like always – just tag the initiative based on our perceived values and the results expected?

We all have biases and tend to look at situations through a narrow lens, which is why mostly our perceptions are not always universal. Much has been expressed about the success and failure of the odd-even scheme being enforced by the Delhi govt. Ask yourself objectively: is it necessary that an initiative be evaluated from the results it sets out to achieve? Is it not reasonable to consider what other benefits the initiative brings to us that we might have overlooked earlier? You know the answer.

The question therefore arises whether we are correctly evaluating the Delhi’s Odd-Even scheme or just juggling with our biases and declaring it a failure (or a success) even as scheme is still in the midst of its planned course for trials.

We, the junta – as usual – has already come out with judgements. For some, the scheme is (or will be) a miserable failure for it gives away too many exemptions, particularly to women and two-wheelers along with a pretty list of VIPs.

Two-wheelers alone account for 33% of the traffic on the road which is why most claim the pollution levels won’t come down. Ask them the count of total two-wheelers on Delhi roads and you draw a blank face. For others, it is (or will be) a huge success because it was able to bring down the pollution levels markedly. Ask them for the numbers of PM 2.5 and you again draw a blank face. For yet another category of citizens who are treading in the middle, even if the pollution is not brought down markedly, having de-congested roads is a sign of success.

What we fail to consider is that Delhi’s Odd-Even is not just about bringing down pollution levels or decongesting the roads. It could well be about changing the perspective and attitude of people. Moulding them from we-can’t-commute-like-that to we-commute-like-that-daily-and-are-happy; from we-won’t-give-a-damn to we-will-and-we-just-did. It’s about the change we expect but always ran away from bringing about, because someone else has to follow it first.

Someone, somewhere has to make a start. It is that opportunity to break the cycle and bring us to the start point. Perhaps the Delhi govt. saw this opportunity before anyone else, perhaps it is an unexpected byproduct of the first step. Either way, with kind of response this initiative has received, it is clear that a change in mindset has begun.

Pollution is not going to vanish overnight, however it is noteworthy that what started out as an anti-pollution movement, turned out to be a huge decongestion catalyst. As it rolls further, it looks more like a movement to bring about a radical change in the mindset of the people, which is what is required for a long-term solution. No law, no amount of penalties can do that as much a change in the mindset of the people. If people of decide that it is time for us to act, things change and an odd scheme becomes a movement. This is what appears to be happening in Delhi. This is what we needed all along.

Lao Tsu has rightly said, Journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step. Delhi odd-even is that step.

People, stand up and make it is a success, this is your chance.

To the good health…

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