choking cities

Evening the odds: One chart shows why Delhi’s plan to limit cars makes perfect sense

Only one in ten residents of the national capital gets to work by car.

Starting January 1, traffic snarls on Delhi roads could come down substantially if the ruling Aam Aadmi Party government moves ahead with its plan to only allow cars with odd and even numbers to ply on alternate days of the week. The move could effectively force those with only one vehicle to switch to public transport for half of the week.

This was announced as part of the government's emergency measures to tackle the dangerously high levels of air pollution in the city.

Apart from citizens by surprise, there are fears that the move is not fully thought out. Some people (like author Chetan Bhagat) meanwhile, observed that in the absence of a solid public transportation system, the plan could end up causing trouble for a large chunk of the city’s working population.

 

 

 

The data, however, doesn’t support this view.

According to the recently released Census 2011 numbers, only about one in ten Delhiites use private cars to commute to work. The vast majority of them rely on public buses or simply walk to their destination. Hence, there’s a good case for the government to try and keep as many cars off the roads as possible and allow public transport maximum possible share of the road.


Even advocates for Bus Rapid Transit System corridors have contended that since buses are able to transport a large number of people, they should be allotted maximum space on the road or at least dedicated lanes to allow them to move faster.

Transport experts have also recommended special lanes for cyclists and those travelling by foot, both of which  which are still quite common n Delhi.

“There’s a dire need to integrate public transport systems in our cities,” Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director at Centre for Science and Environment had told Scroll in a previous interview. “The future strategies will require more thought into who’s getting preference on the roads. We need to incentivise public transport users by allowing special lanes for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Transportation experts contend that those using eco-friendly and public transport should be incentivised while those contributing to the pollution should be fined.

“The authorities should think about limiting parking space on certain days, increasing charges and imposing high fines on offenders who break traffic rules,” Roychowdhury said.

This GIF from a street in Toronto in 2009 perfectly illustrates the point.



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Can success lead to a more fulfilled life? It’s complicated for Indians, according to a new survey

A surprising disconnect between success and fulfillment has much to tell us about the choices we make.

While “success” can be defined in many ways, it seems to be increasingly equated with financial prosperity in India. The pressure to succeed financially can influence many of our major life decisions, from the subjects we study in school to the jobs we desire as adults. But is financial success alone the key to a meaningful and fulfilled life? Maybe not.

A recent study by Abbott explored the impact of 13 different factors, including success (defined as “financial success”), on personal fulfillment. The survey asked nearly two million individuals across countries, including India, to comment on what contributes to living a fulfilled life. Respondents also self-reported their current levels of personal fulfillment to compare with the fulfillment standards they set for themselves.

In India, “success” was the second-most widely acknowledged driver of personal fulfillment, surpassing other factors like “giving”, “learning” and “health”. In fact, Indians on the whole considered success to be key to a fulfilled life far more than any other country, far ahead of economic powerhouses like the US and Germany. When Indian respondents were then asked which qualities they thought made other people feel fulfilled, 16% of the sample chose “money”, second only to “attitude”.

Clearly there is a growing importance placed on success and money, but where is this preoccupation getting us?

The good news is that, on the whole, Indians rated themselves as enjoying a life that was only somewhat less fulfilled relative to the global average (61 vs 68 on a scale of 100). The surprising finding, however, was that at an individual level, respondents who chose “success” as the top driver of fulfillment actually reported lower levels of fulfillment relative to the average.

So, what can we derive from these mixed and somewhat complicated signals? How can success be both a driver and deterrent of personal fulfillment simultaneously?

The most likely explanation is that our own high expectations for financial success are actually limiting our ability to feel fulfilled. While success and money have been shown to improve levels of happiness, their impact on leading a meaningful life, which is critical to feeling fulfilled, is much less. By prioritizing the pursuit of financial success, we might be eclipsing other important activities that are central to leading a more fulfilled life in the present.

One clue to support this is that while everyone’s path to fulfillment differs, globally and in India, people who chose attributes like “family”, “spirituality” or “giving” as the top drivers of fulfillment self-reported above-average levels of fulfillment. Attributes like spirituality were also associated with above-average fulfillment levels in India and the US, whereas music was important for Brazil and health for China.

Perhaps the most powerful takeaway, then, is that leading a fulfilled life is a choice available to all of us. Through greater self-awareness and reflection, we can develop a deeper understanding of the things that make us feel truly fulfilled. While financial goals will no doubt feature on the path to fulfillment for many of us, it’s important not to lose sight of other aspects of life like family, music, travel, spirituality and health that could also play a significant role. Taking all of these aspects into consideration can help each of us find our unique “fulfillment equation” that will bring us greater peace and contentment in life.

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This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.

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