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The petrol hike is high — but not high enough

I welcome the government's decision to hike prices of petrol. While most car owners consider the hike of Rs. 7.50 per litre too high, I am of the opinion that it is not high enough. It should be further raised to become prohibitive. Khushwant Singh writes.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2012 22:40 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times

I welcome the government's decision to hike prices of petrol. While most car owners consider the hike of Rs. 7.50 per litre too high, I am of the opinion that it is not high enough. It should be further raised to become prohibitive. My argument is simple. Delhi has already more cars than its roads can hold – more than Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata put together. Petrol fumes poison the atmosphere. While the three other metropolitan cities are along the coast and have sea breezes to waft pollutants away, Delhi is earth-bound. Unless a dust storm clears the atmosphere, there will always be a pall of polluted air hovering over it. It has the dubious distinction of being the most polluted capital city of the world. Can we do anything about it? Yes, we can if we have the will to do so. Take as many cars as we can off our roads. A car with only its driver should be ordered to park on the side till it can pick up more passengers. People should be encouraged to form car-pools if they are bound for the same destination. Government and other public sector companies should be made to change their working hours so that their staff are not on the same road at the same time.

The most civilized way of tackling car congestion on roads is to persuade people to use bicycles. They are pollution-free, good for a person's health, and often the aster way to get to one's destination. Many countries which face similar problems have done so with good results. I recall my one week stay in Tubingen (Germany). There were not many cars to be seen on the roads, but lots of bicycles. We can imitate them to our benefit. On either side of our major roads, we should build one-way bicycle tracks. It will be the most civilized way of solving our traffic problem.

Importance of beards
'I know all about the politics,' I retorted. 'I grow up with politics beating down on me. Basically, it all boils down to three points: The Quran is the final hand-autographed word of God; the West is f***ing us; the Jews are f***ing us via the West.'

'You know, bastard, that I would not let that kind of fascism go unchallenged. Actually, while they are probably very anti-Israel, they do not really discuss the matter much.'

'Yes, because you are there.'

'Listen to yourself, yaar. You sound like a Danish tabloid. What do you think they are? The secret Arhus cell of Al Qaeda?

'Who knows?'

'Karim Bhai, a terrorist! Really, have you ever come across a person with more seriousness of purpose, more consideration for other people's space, you fanatic? He lets us drink in his flat, and you know what alcohol means to people like him.'

'Perhaps he needs the money more than he hates alcohol.'

'Oh yes, perhaps he is the main founder of Al Qaeda?

That's why he needs the money?'

'Who knows? He works all the time; he disappears suddenly; gets strange phone calls; you cannot deny he needs the money for some reason.'

'The same reason as all immigrants except f***ing privileged ones like us. He probably sends money home to family. You know, bastard, you have been in the West too long; go back home, you need a shot of sanity.'

'Sanity was banned in Pakistan by Zia, bastard,' I replied. 'And that is one ban no one is going to lift.'

But Ravi was right. I was arguing just to irk him. I did not really suspect Karim of being a radical Islamist, let alone a terrorist. Not yet.

I think it was soon after this conversation that Ravi started growing a beard: a stylish, French-cut beard, but still. 'Don't tell me Karim Bhai has converted you,' I remarked to him. 'It is an experiment, bastard,' he replied mysteriously.

(From Tabish Khair's 'How to Fight Islamist terror from the missionary position (Fourth Estate).

Absolutely wonderful
The new college year had opened. One of the existing boy students saw a pretty fresher, so he went up to her.
Boy: "What is your name, Baby?"
Girl: "The whole college calls me 'sister'".
Boy: "That's absolutely wonderful. The whole college calls me Saala 'brother-In-law'".

Ustad Daman
IPL nay chaaron ore phailayee hai bahut maujan hi maujan. Lekin akhbaaron main khabar bhar hai sirf faujan hi faujan.
(With apologies to Pakistani poet Ustad Daman, whose lines I modified: Pakistan dee maujan hee maujan Charron paasey faujan hee faujan)

(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh, New Delhi)
The views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: Jun 09, 2012 22:37 IST