funny bone

The joke’s on Delhi: A choking city raises some chuckles to make the best of a bad situation

From the odd-even scheme to the political blame game, jokes and cartoons have flooded social media in the past week.

Winter is around the corner and Delhi is already enveloped in a thick blanket – of smog and toxic particulate matter. At around this time of the year, pollution in the city rises to path-breaking levels, and each year is worse than the last. On Monday, the Air Quality Index reading in several areas crossed 500 – a reading of up to 50 is considered good, and anything between 401 and 500 is categorised as severe.

The reasons for the polluted air are all too familiar by now: vehicular and industrial emission, the fumes from hazardous cookstoves, construction and road dust, urbanisation and the burning of crop stubble in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

For the week that Delhi has been under this blinding smog, the governments have chosen to play the blame game, which seems to be their favourite way of dealing with a crisis. The Delhi government has pointed fingers at the governments of Haryana and Punjab over the crop burning while the Central government has blamed the states, ignoring its own powers to take emergency and long-term steps to tackle air pollution. As reported on Tuesday, the Union Environment Ministry has delayed the implementation of standards to reduce industrial emissions for the last four years.

Left to fend for themselves, Delhi residents are figuring out who to blame as they go about buying air purifiers and masks to breathe a little easy. Staying home to avoid the foul air outside, many have taken to social media to vent their frustrations against the government. Some are even using humour to deal with the situation with jokes and cartoons on everything from the odd-even car rationing scheme that is yet to take off to the smog and the political blame game.

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