I was among those people who thought that this was never going to happen. And even if it was, it would at best be a soapbox-on-wheels. But no, hat’s off to Tata, they pulled off a gem.
Now I am in two minds. Again like a lot of others. It is a big deal, not by any means a minor achievement. But the environmentalists come out and say it is going to damage our Earth. That can’t be good right? But I would like to think in a different manner. If what Tata claims is true (I hope to dear god, it is at least half-true!), the car will have total emissions less than that of a standard motorcycle. If the Nano’s can achieve its said goal of replacing the 2-wheelers on the road, well then this can only be a good thing right. And the number of cars in India (.007 cars per person) are still too less compared to USA (.478 cars per person) or Germany (.508 cars per person). I think the whole hue and cry is a little too much.
But one point I agree on is that the Nano is going to severely choke the already congested Indian roads. Tata and other giants should actively invest in infrastructure projects beneficial for the general public and not just for their factories. I think all the hue and cry must be for this, lets not solve the wrong problem first.
And hey, I was reading some western reactions to the whole thing. While most of them ranged from faint sarcasm to slight appreciation, I noticed something interesting at many places. They were all saying we are going down the wrong path, all about green house gases and stuff. Yes that is important, but so is the development of our country (no, I am not just talking about Nano). The west created this whole mess, all the while enjoying all the goodies and when we are finally capable to doing all that, what right do they have tell us – ‘No, you cant do that. Its too late and we can’t clean up the mess we created.’.. Think about it people!
The point is that there needs to be a balance. We cannot afford to slow down too much on development, but we cannot totally forget about the environment either. The success of India depends on how well ‘we’ (no not just our politicians) strike the balance.