A few weeks ago, the traditional Indian joint family household of Vineet Sharma, a fertilizer industry consultant, achieved a long deferred dream. Having ferried themselves on scooters all these years, the Sharmas bought a brand-new, silver-grey hatchback known as the Tata Indica.Whatever your opinion about global warming, it's bad news for the environment to have millions more vehicles spewing additional crud into the atmosphere. A major factor is the new affordability: Tata Reveals World's Cheapest Car (San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 8, 2008).
Never mind that none of the six adult members of the household knew how to drive. No sooner had the car arrived than Mr. Sharma, 34, took it for a spin and knocked over a friend. His brother slammed into a motorcyclist, injuring no one but damaging the bumper and getting so scared that he no longer gets behind the wheel, except on Sundays when the roads are empty.
â€?We bought it first, and then we thought about driving,â€? Mr. Sharma confessed. [Indians Hit the Road Amid the Occasional Elephant, New York Times, Jan 11, 2008]
For millions of people in the developing world, Tata Motor's new $2,500 four-door subcompact â€” the world's cheapest car â€” may yield a transportation revolution with as great an impact as Henry Ford's Model T, which rolled off an assembly line one century ago.What I want to know is how many Indians will purchase a car before installing indoor plumbling, which is in short supply (No toilet, no seat, says minister, BBC, August 3, 2005).
The potential impact of Tata's Nano has given environmentalists nightmares, with visions of the tiny cars clogging India's already-choked roads and collectively spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.
Mr Singh told the BBC that more than 65% of India's rural population defecated in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts of excrement every day.India is one of the world's more diverse societies, where educated tech workers live alongside more traditional and superstitious persons. Oh wait, they are one and the same (India's Visa God)!
"This finds its way into the water sources," Mr Singh said.
About 70% of India's billion-plus population live in its more than 550,000 rural villages.