While I walked the streets of Delhi on the smoky night of Diwali, I rediscovered India. That part of the country of which I am not very proud of. While the toxins rushed through my veins, I struggled to breathe. People jumped on the streets with their rockets and new variety crackers. Plunging and flashing. My fellow aspirants took this as an opportunity to vent their frustration. The streets were dimly lit with colorful lights and I was depressed. Not because I wasn’t celebrating the festival the usual way but because in a charged environment where “intolerance” had taken such sensational and political turn, here it seemed to define new dimensions. I decided I would confront those families and request them if they would ‘maybe’ minimize their budget on crackers. I was too naïve to expect anything in return, I was told to get lost to where I came from. As a so-called outsider in the capital I had committed the eternal sin of trespassing a Delhite’s ‘personal space’. Ironically many seemed to be enthusiastically “tolerant” about pollution. Indeed India is a tolerant country. It is then I realized we are nowhere towards the idea of development. The word is a farce where self-indulgence has always been the rule at the cost of our planet.
Two immediate concerns flashed before me. Firstly the so-called personal space, how personal is it anyway? Am I not getting equally affected? And secondly, I was referred to as an outsider. My country didn’t seem mine while I was being reduced to a mere regional identity in a not so positive way.
The pollution in Capital city had broken its own set records when it was engulfed in fumes. Perhaps 20 times more. The World Health Organization (WHO) had reported it the top most polluted across the globe. We are all aware of those figures. The particulate matter, the deadly consequences, the diseases, the climate effect, the horrible effect it has on the wildlife and animals around us and so on. But we reluctantly forget or simply ignore these issues by convincing ourselves that our leaders will manage that in the Paris Climate Summit if they fail the activists might make an attempt to improve the situation. While we sit in our air-conditioned apartment sipping our morning coffee turning to page three bypassing all the deadly reality, Yes we make a deliberate choice! The choice to shrug off our collective responsibility. Take a minute to consciously ponder over this, as words won’t have much effect when our conscience has itself failed us.