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OpinionsThank God we lack shame. We choke even foreign guests with our...

Thank God we lack shame. We choke even foreign guests with our air, again and again

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Now the Danish PM witnessed a wonder of through our poisonous grey air. Although our govt isn't embarrassed, our humble advice from the gas chamber — Thora adjust karlo, sir.

RAJESHWARI GANESAN

India embarrassing itself in front of visiting foreign dignitaries because of the poor AQI is nothing new.
Remember the time in December 2017 when the Sri Lankan cricket team was forced to abort the test match being held at Delhi's Feroze Shah Kotla stadium, after the players took to the field wearing face masks? Clearly, the masks did not do much, and the bowlers were struggling to breathe while others were vomiting — forcing the authorities to finally call the match off.
Or the time when Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were welcomed as they exited their RAF plane in Delhi by senior dignitaries — and a thick blanket of smog?
Or the time when West Asian, European, Australian and other diplomats started packing their bags from Delhi, and minister Harsh Vardhan underplayed the impact of pollution? “No death certificate has the cause of death as pollution,” he had reportedly said then.
We have another check on our list of pride now — when the Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Løkke Rasmussen and his wife visited the Taj Mahal, media reported that the dignitaries reached the Taj Mahal early and had to wait for some time for the fog — this is a nice way to describe the noxious haze we now live with — to clear up.
Who cares?
We have politicians screaming themselves hoarse during crop burning season and the courts issuing mandates against bursting firecrackers around Diwali.
But how much are we focusing on the real problem?
The fact that cities in north India have the worst Air Quality Index (AQI) in the can be ascertained by the rescheduling, rerouting and cancellations of foreign tourists' India visits — completely bypassing the Indian capital in their travel itineraries.
There used to be a time — not too long ago — when Beijing was the poster child of urban pollution.
The AQI in China's capital routinely hovered in the ‘hazardous' range between 301 and 500. However, China decided it did not want the ignominy of this reputation — and is currently in the fifth year of its serious war on pollution. Beijing is reportedly leaving no stone unturned to reverse the environmental damage of four decades of economic growth and is cutting the concentrations of PM2.5 by an average of 9.3 per cent in 338 cities as of 2018.
According to an analysis by Greenpeace of government data, pollution levels in China dropped 53 per cent in just three months of 2017, as compared to the same period in 2016.
Will India learn?
If only wishes were horses and skins an inch less thick — but then, we have learnt to ‘adjust'.
Embarrassment in the arena can only lead the Indian politicians and policymakers to the proverbial pond. Who is to make them drink?
Certainly not we, the people. We're too busy learning to live while we choke.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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