quick reads

The big news: Everybody is equal, says Modi in Independence Day speech, and 9 other top stories

Other headlines: The Hizbul Mujahideen named Mohammad bin Qasim its new chief in Kashmir, and Amit Shah said the Gorakhpur incident was not first of its kind.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. India stood by the families of children who died in Gorakhpur, says PM Modi in Independence Day speech: Nearly 70,000 police personnel have been deployed across the national Capital.  
  2. Hizbul Mujahideen appoints Mohammad bin Qasim its new commander in Kashmir: He was elevated to the post a day after Yaseen Yattoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi was killed in an encounter with security forces in Shopian district.  
  3. Gorakhpur incident is a mistake that happened at some level, says Amit Shah: The BJP president ruled out demands for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath’s resignation.  
  4. BJP leaders in Ranchi stop economist Jean Dreze’s speech on communalism: He had argued that it was the most dangerous when the state itself created antagonism between communities.  
  5. Britain’s Big Ben to remain silent till 2021 while it gets renovated: The 19th century bell will, however, chime for important events such as New Year’s Eve.  
  6. Maneka Gandhi asks Centre to ban Blue Whale challenge from social media: The women and child development minister also urged parents to ensure their children did not participate in such online activities.  
  7. Four employees of Bengaluru firm arrested for leaking ‘Game of Thrones’ episode: The company provided data services to Star India.  
  8. Supreme Court reinstates lookout notice against Karti Chidambaram: The Bharatiya Janata Party had challenged the Madras High Court’s order suspending the lookout notice against the Congress politician.
  9. 21 JD(U) leaders, believed to be Sharad Yadav loyalists, suspended for anti-party activities: Former state minister Ramai Ram was also removed from the party.
  10. Wholesale inflation rose by 1.88% in July after easing for four months: Stabilising food prices led to the increase and also helped the Reserve Bank of India to reduce its key rates by 25 basis points in August.  
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Virat Kohli and Ola come together to improve Delhi's air quality

The onus of curbing air-pollution is on citizens as well

A recent study by The Lancet Journal revealed that outdoor pollution was responsible for 6% of the total disease burden in India in 2016. As a thick smog hangs low over Delhi, leaving its residents gasping for air, the pressure is on the government to implement SOS measures to curb the issue as well as introduce long-term measures to improve the air quality of the state. Other major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata should also acknowledge the gravitas of the situation.

The urgency of the air-pollution crisis in the country’s capital is being reflected on social media as well. A recent tweet by Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, urged his fans to do their bit in helping the city fight pollution. Along with the tweet, Kohli shared a video in which he emphasized that curbing pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Apart from advocating collective effort, Virat Kohli’s tweet also urged people to use buses, metros and Ola share to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibility, ride sharing app Ola responded with the following tweet.

To demonstrate its commitment to fight the problem of vehicular pollution and congestion, Ola is launching #ShareWednesdays : For every ​new user who switches to #OlaShare in Delhi, their ride will be free. The offer by Ola that encourages people to share resources serves as an example of mobility solutions that can reduce the damage done by vehicular pollution. This is the fourth leg of Ola’s year-long campaign, #FarakPadtaHai, to raise awareness for congestion and pollution issues and encourage the uptake of shared mobility.

In 2016, WHO disclosed 10 Indian cities that made it on the list of worlds’ most polluted. The situation necessitates us to draw from experiences and best practices around the world to keep a check on air-pollution. For instance, a system of congestion fees which drivers have to pay when entering central urban areas was introduced in Singapore, Oslo and London and has been effective in reducing vehicular-pollution. The concept of “high occupancy vehicle” or car-pool lane, implemented extensively across the US, functions on the principle of moving more people in fewer cars, thereby reducing congestion. The use of public transport to reduce air-pollution is another widely accepted solution resulting in fewer vehicles on the road. Many communities across the world are embracing a culture of sustainable transportation by investing in bike lanes and maintenance of public transport. Even large corporations are doing their bit to reduce vehicular pollution. For instance, as a participant of the Voluntary Traffic Demand Management project in Beijing, Lenovo encourages its employees to adopt green commuting like biking, carpooling or even working from home. 18 companies in Sao Paulo executed a pilot program aimed at reducing congestion by helping people explore options such as staggering their hours, telecommuting or carpooling. After the pilot, drive-alone rates dropped from 45-51% to 27-35%.

It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that the growth of a country doesn’t compromise the natural environment that sustains it, however, a substantial amount of responsibility also lies on each citizen to lead an environment-friendly lifestyle. Simple lifestyle changes such as being cautious about usage of electricity, using public transport, or choosing locally sourced food can help reduce your carbon footprint, the collective impact of which is great for the environment.

Ola is committed to reducing the impact of vehicular pollution on the environment by enabling and encouraging shared rides and greener mobility. They have also created flat fare zones across Delhi-NCR on Ola Share to make more environment friendly shared rides also more pocket-friendly. To ensure a larger impact, the company also took up initiatives with City Traffic Police departments, colleges, corporate parks and metro rail stations.

Join the fight against air-pollution by using the hashtag #FarakPadtaHai and download Ola to share your next ride.

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