Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Do you want Odd-Even Back In Delhi?

The Delhi Government, through its full page advertisement in dailies, asks the citizen - "Do you want the Odd-Even scheme back?" Here is the advertisement and, below that, my answers to the questions.

My Answers:

  • Should Odd-Even brought back in Delhi? NO
  • If yes, from which date should Odd-Even be implemented again? NA
  • For how many days should Odd-Even be implemented this time? NA
  • Would you buy a secod car if Odd-Even is implemented again? NA
  • Which Categories should be exempted from Odd-Even this time? Only Buses and Emergency Vehicles
  • Do you have any suggestions? Yes, see below:

Suggestion 1

Yes, we should have a "pay-as-you-use" format where road-users are charged when they use specific roads during peak hours and / or certain time slots depending on traffic conditions in areas. Only Public Transport such as buses and Emergency vehicles should be exempt from this.

The benefits are:

1. This encourages road users to find alternative mode of transport such as public transport, car pooling, or change time of road usage.

2. This minimizes traffic volume in heavily used roads like Ring Road as well as congested areas and major intersections like ITO, Ashram, etc.

3. It reduces road activity unless absolutely essential and, therefore, helps reduce vehicular pollution

Suggestion 2

Implement "lane driving" & "road discipline" with hefty penalties and a "no-discussion / no-contest" policy. This will promote smoother traffic movement and reduce congestion and well as travel time, eventually reducing vehicular pollution!

To read about pros & cons of Odd-Even, click here --> Are car owners being taken for a ride in Delhi?

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Are car owners being taken for a ride in Delhi?

The Chief Minister of Delhi has more or less succeeded in pushing the “odd-even car rule” down our throat, albeit for the first 15 days of the New Year. Many “environmentalists” and “socialists” have already called it a “great idea” and things like “if London and Singapore can do it, why can’t we”!

While there is absolutely no question that Delhi’s pollution levels are at such dangerous and toxic proportions that it is imperative to tackle this on war footing, it is also important to understand if this “odd-even car rule” is going to solve the problem or only exacerbate the discomfort of the citizen of Delhi.  That is, if the objective is to control pollution and not something like decongesting the roads.

The big question is whether the Delhi car owners are being taken for a ride.

Let’s look at the fact-based arguments and then the pros and cons. So here goes:

Fact-based arguments

·       Vehicular pollution accounts for 30-40% of all air pollution, according to a draft report from the State Environment and Forest Department. This means that there are other forms of pollutants like dust, dirt and soot that contribute to 60-70% pollution in Delhi. This also implies that even if you stop all vehicles, there would still be 60-70% air pollution to contend with. Who will bell this cat?

·     According to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, air toxicity in the capital ranges from 3 times the accepted limit in some areas to an alarming 14 times the limit at Anand Vihar. Yes, this is the place that is next to the Ghaziabad bus station and the Patparganj Industrial Area and that which houses the Interstate Bus Terminus (ISBT). No marks for guessing what kind of vehicle is seen the most here! But, the rule is not going to cover buses or the industries, so pollution at Anand Vihar is not likely to come down!

·        According to IIT-K, two wheelers account for 34% of the vehicular pollution (which is 30-40% of total air pollution), 56% from trucks and other commercial vehicles and only 10% from cars! So even if you stop all cars from being used on Delhi roads, it is not going to make any appreciable impact in controlling pollution. So, is this rule barking up the wrong tree?

·         As per the Delhi government data, Delhi has a little over 2.6 million cars. If you assume that only 40% people use their cars, that makes it close to 1 million cars being used. Assuming that odd and even numbers are equally registered, on any given day when the rule is in implementation, you will have half million people trying to use public transport. If you assume 100 people can be crammed into a single bus, you would need 5000 additional buses every day. And this doesn’t take into account 2 wheelers! The government’s intent to introduce 1000 more buses isn’t going to make the cut.

·       Singapore and London & other cities in the world have a great public transport system that runs on time. And even there, the rule is applicable only in the CBD (Central Business Districts)

Pros to the rule

·       The rule will halve the automobile traffic in Delhi. However, 5.7 million two-wheelers (scooters and motorcycles) plus 35 lakh commercial vehicles and 5500DTC buses will still use the road as they are exempt from this rule.

·       Cabs and TSRs will see a rise in demand as car owners will turn to this mode for commuting. Their economic status will improve

·       The rule will bring down pollution by 2% from the existing levels (half of 10% cars of 40% vehicular pollution)

Cons to the rule

·       Major polluting agents are not addressed, so there would hardly be any improvement in air quality

·     Car users who work in shifts such as in ITES industries, Hospitals, etc., will face difficulties on the day they can’t use their car.

·      Women and men who use a driver for their car will be severely impacted. Since most drivers are men, they cannot drive for half the days in the month and this would mean either a 50% cut in salary or full salary for half the work done.

·      Delhi is full of small traders and entrepreneurs who often travel to nearby states for sourcing or selling their wares. They often go on a road trip and return the next day. With this rule, it becomes difficult.

·        If your children miss their school bus on the “wrong” day, you cannot take them to the next stop to catch up with the bus. Nor can you take them to school.

·         If women are going to be exempt from this rule, then it is going to be very difficult to assess the gender of the driver, barring a strip search!

·       If there is a medical or other emergency, you have to look for a cab or for a neighbor with the right kind of car number!

·       The already hard-pressed Delhi Police will be stretched even further to implement this rule. It will add to the already reigning chaos on the road of Delhi in the form of running red lights, driving against the flow of traffic, parking an arterial roads, lack of lane discipline, etc. which go undetected.

·       People in sales will be completely devastated with this rule. Their means of living is based on their ability to take their items of sale to various potential customers across the NCR and taking their products in public transport is out of the question. They also cannot afford to use cabs or TSRs.

·       The same problem (as in the preceding bullet) applies to musicians and sportspersons also. They have to take their tools of trade to practice every day to keep themselves in fine nick to be able to earn their livelihood. They cannot afford cabs or TSRs and using public transport is going to inconvenience other users and themselves.

The Verdict

It is pretty evident what the rule can do and will end up doing. However, I would like readers to please comment and provide their viewpoint and verdict.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We SRT fans need to move on

*Champions don't necessarily have leadership skills - those skills that tell you it is time; and this champion doesn't seem to have it. Therefore the very same fans who were presented with the greatest artistry are now being forced to witness mediocrity. For the champion, though, it is not evident.*

Sachin Tendulkar is a great batsman, without any shred of doubt. If you ask him to retire, his answer will be what he's been saying already, that he would continue to play as long as he enjoys playing. There is nothing wrong with that. So, why do you need selectors? One can ask every player to continue playing as long as they enjoy playing the game!

Isn't it time for the selectors to put an end to this farce by telling him that his is going to be dropped based on current form and performance and so, would he rather announce his retirement prior to that!

See my earlier post on this - Cricket: Caught & bowled Sachin, but it is the end of the over!

All good things come to an end. We have to move on even as very big fans of the very big batsman.

* post amended to add this paragraph a day later*

Sack Dhoni?

Indians, in general, like to talk like experts in a field that they are not, just because they have the opportunity and the avenue to do so. This post by Sambit Bal is an excellent example of this exasperating and even irritating tendency to shoot off with an analysis and a conclusion based on their limited expertise & shallow knowledge.

Another gem. Bishen Bedi has made a statement recently that Dhoni should be sacked. By his own standards on Tendulkar (only those who have played over 150 Tests should ask him to retire), isn't it fair that only those who have captained India in at least 25 Tests should call for Dhoni's head?

The media, the scribes, the wannabe cricket experts - They are the guys who think they can make and break people, careers, etc., of celebrities and public figures. They think they can play God. I think it is absolutely SAD :( 

Shaun Pollock's (@7polly7) tweet of wisdom is very appropriate to this point -
"Be careful having an opinion in an area where you don't have a responsibility."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

RIP ODI Cricket

ODI brought in the right kind of change from Test cricket to balance a long format with a short format that guaranteed results. However, in the middle overs (as large as a 30 over chunk), the ODI game meanders and today, it has the unfortunate distinction of being neither here (Test) nor there T20).

In other words, the ODI has passed the "use by date" and should seriously be canned.

Read this excellent post by Sanjay Manjrekar Is it time to bury the ODI?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Accident or Oversight?

It is amazing how the Indian media has the tendency to report road accidents in a way that makes it look like the bigger vehicle is always the aggressor and at fault, while the smaller vehicle is the victim.

The headlines liberally use "speeding", "over speeding", etc., when they have no idea of what speed the vehicles were traveling at. Even if you have eye-witnesses, there is no way to gauge the speed of a vehicle just by looking at it, or guess what it must have been doing based on the crash. So, how are they able to say that "the vehicle was being driven at 150kph"?

In the crash reported May 18, 2012 by Delhi's leading newspaper involving a "speeding, overtaking" Mahindra Scorpio, most readers were led to believe that this was due to rash and negligent driving; until you read just one mention of a cyclist in the report in the inside page. Now, what was the cyclist doing in the fast lane of the road? Isn't it possible that the sudden appearance of the cyclist could have made the Scorpio driver swerve and thereby lose control? Similarly, a few days back, there was a Lamborghini that came unstuck on the BRT corridor. There was a cyclist there, too, in the wrong place at the wrong time! Then, how about the recent case of a Mercedes Benz and a motorcycle - what was the motorcycle trying to do, cutting across the car? Or the Skoda crashing into a scooter rickshaw at night a few months back, near Pragati Maidan; why was the scooter making the U-turn when a car was coming? Did the rickshaw driver not know that he has to yield? In last week's incident at Ghaziabad, what were the out of town pedestrians doing in the middle of the road? According to traffic laws, weren't they "jay walking"?

Those who have any doubts about the "accidents" mentioned above - you only have to go on Mathura Road, NH8, NH24 or Ring Road, drive around for an hour (preferably in a large sedan or SUV) - you will come across several incidents of cyclists & other 2 wheelers suddenly cutting across your vehicle from an illegal & makeshift verge in the median fence, pedestrians (hidden by a tree or traffic signal) casually stepping off the median on to your path, people driving towards you from the wrong side and so on. In case you happen to hit them (even if you are stone cold sober & driving under the posted speed limit), whose fault would it be? Take a guess!

If my point is still not made, then consider reports like "Rajdhani mows down family" or "Train rams into car", etc., making it look like it is the train engineer's fault. Pray tell me, what were these people doing on the railway tracks? What is killing people and causing these crashes is, first & foremost, lack of traffic sense and discipline, the other factors come later.

With the power to reach millions of people across the country and the world, our media has to be more responsible and report news equitably. Is the 4th estate hearing this?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hitting the switch

The ICC has declared that it is considering modifications in the LBW rule to address the switch hit. While this is a good move, there are some cricket journalists who are clamoring for the switch hit to be outlawed altogether.

The question is, "why should the switch hit be outlawed?" And, can anyone say which cricketing law or rule the switch hit transgresses?

In my opinion, the switch hit is simply another creative and ingenuous, but definitely not illegal, stroke by a batsman to score runs. It is as legitimate as the leg glance or the late cut or the dil-scoop or the pull / hook shot from outside off. For those saying that the switch hit is "unfair", how about the batsman standing outside the crease to confuse the length for the bowler? Should standing outside the crease be outlawed?

And, here is the kicker! If the batsman steps out of the crease to cart the bowler overhead, and if the bowler delivers the ball wide and gets the batsman stumped, by cricketing law he is out! This is the bowler's ingenuity. Can you now say that the bowler bowling wide in this instance is unfair and that it should be made illegal?

Can the fielding laws be changed to say, "sorry you cannot run (or fly) out of the boundary line to save the six"?

Legality comes in when you actually use unfair practices - shining the ball with an external substance other than saliva, rubbing the ball on the ground to roughen it (throwing the ball along the ground to do the same is legal), using a bat that is wider than the permitted 4 1/4 inches, etc.

Not a creative stroke such as the switch hit.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cricket - Caught & Bowled Sachin, but it is the end of the over!

Sachin is one of the greatest batsmen to have graced the cricket pitch and he has been entertaining the world for the last 23 years. No doubts about that. But, his notional 100 centuries does not in any way contribute to the above fact, it is only a by-product of his greatness.

Don Bradman too, was great, however, he retired even though his average was so close to 100. So is he any less of the "Greatest Batsman" tag because his average is not 100? Take another great, Sir Vivian Richards, who does not top any piece of statistics like the highest individual score, number of centuries, strike rate, etc. nothing but, the world still acknowledges him as a great batsman, even though he is retired, isn't that so?

So there!

Sachin, please retire gracefully, it is heart-rending to see you struggle against lesser attacks than the ones you once decimated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I want memories of a great Indian batsman

Sachin R Tendulkar made an interesting comment recently. He said that he is patriotic and therefore wants to continue playing.

Great! But having said that, why didn't he extend his patriotic thought process and request former greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble, etc., so that we can start winning matches? Similarly, shouldn't the West Indies recall Garfield Sobers, Brian Lara, Richards, Garner, Holding, Walsh & Ambrose so that they become a patriotic and winning team again? And while we are at it, perhaps Australia should recall Shane Warne, McGrath, the Waughs and some others like Lillee and Thommo so that they can become a force too?

Everything in life has a "use by date". After that, things become stale, putrefy and unpalatable. A beautiful flower starts to fade and rot. Musicians, however great they might have been in their prime (e.g., Paul McCartney!), cannot produce the same work or evoke the same emotions that they did before. The same is true for sports and other walks of life.

It is unfortunate that the great master that he is, Sachin, does not have the dignity to retire gracefully. He has already made people ask "when" rather than "why". See this article by Mukul Kesavan How not to close a great career

Sachin, please, I want memories of a great Indian batsman, not someone who is struggling to make runs! Already, you have pushed yourself to below lesser batsmen, don't go any further down!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Keep Running, SRT

In the last match against Australia, (Scorecard & related report) the great Sachin was run out. And boy, did that create a discussion for all the wrong reasons! Although I was having a haircut at that time, I stopped the barber just enough to watch the replays. It was pretty evident at that time that Brett Lee after his delivery from over the wicket went ahead where his momentum took him and ended up at the right edge of the pitch. Now what was Sahin doing on the edge of the pitch?

If you ask Sunil Gavaskar or Geoff Boycott, the Jedi masters of cricket (not Inzy or Sourav Ganguly, mind you) then they would remind you that, as a batsman, you are supposed to run a couple of feet away from the strip.

So, why blame Lee? It was an error in judgement from the great SRT.

Talking about errors in judgement, perhaps it is good for him to retire from ODI? India will never sack him like OZ did Punter, but isn't it better for Sachin to make a dignified exit? I mean what is he waiting for, a 100th 100? C'mon if you go for trivial records, then he doesn't hold most of them - century on debut, century at Lord's, highest individual score in any format of the game, highest number of catches, highest number of wickets in any format of the game, and so on.

But he does have the record for highest number of centuries individual and collective in International cricket, and he is also the highest run getter.

So, please Sachin, take a bow and retire with dignity!

Monday, January 30, 2012

A 70+ batting Average does not count!

I did not expect a totally lopsided discussion from Harsha where he is asking for heads to roll, particularly that of Dravid & Laxman and if you are attentive, you might think he wants Sachin to go too!

Listen to the audio here --> Time for an exit plan for the big three

Here's why:

In the last 13 innings before Oz (8 in England & 5 in India against WI), the big 3 in question scored like this -

SRT: 34, 12, 16, 56, 1, 40, 23, 91, 7, 76, 38, 94 & 3. Tot: 491, Avg 38
RSD: 103*, 36, 117, 6, 22, 18, 146*, 13, 54, 31, 119, 82 & 33. Tot: 780, Avg:71
VVS: 10, 56, 54, 4, 30, 2, 2, 24, 1, 58*, 176*, 32 & 31. Tot: 480, Avg:43.6

If you don't count the WI series, then the stats are:

SRT: Tot: 273, Avg 34
RSD: Tot: 461, Avg 77
VVS: Tot: 182, Avg 23

In Oz:

SRT: Tot: 287, Avg 36
RSD: Tot: 194, Avg 24
VVS: Tot: 155, Avg19

Based on the above, who are the real 2 failures? I am amazed that Harsha was asking for RSD's head when he has been the highest test scorer in the world just last year! And of these, barring the 319 runs scored against WI in India, the others have come overseas!

And, why ask the batsmen to go, why not ask people like Zaheer to go?

As a media person one has the power to influence the minds of the fans & cricket administrators. But with power comes responsibility. With this totally subjective viewpoint, I feel that he has let Indian cricket reporting down.

ps: source for above stats: ESPNCricinfo