EDITORIAL | Pollution reports? Foreign conspiracy!

India’s central government is not one to be easily impressed and never one to believe a report, in full or in parts, especially if it is prepared outside the country. Everyone says the country is badly polluted. Its air is thick with the talk of pollution and foul smoke that makes people gasp for breath in some cities. We often put on airs of rivalry with China. The country’s cities have competed with Chinese cities, and Delhi has for long thought that it would never get to beat Beijing. But, for once, the Indian capital has won the race, groping in the air saturated with particulate matter. Just last week, the air quality in Delhi slipped so low that masks went up many faces, people were advised to stay indoors, schools and industries shut down, coughs and snorts rattled away, and a pall of soot descended on the city and stayed there. 

But breathing is not believing. So, don’t just believe those foreign reports that our cities are polluted. Our nationalistic and patriotic government has decided to conduct a study of its own in 20 cities to see if the foreign reports are deliberately lying to make India look bad. Many organisations outside the country, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), have tried to paint India, literally in black. The WHO has said that 14 of the world’s cities with the worst air quality are in India. If this was not enough, it said last week that one lakh children under the age of five died of air pollution in the country in 2016. Greenpeace suddenly found an opportunity to hit back at the country which has not given it and other NGOs a chance to breathe in peace. It has said the nastiest things. All this must be a foreign conspiracy afoot to malign India. What greater proof do you need than the fact that the revelations have come when the country is heading for elections? 

So, we need to do the pollution tests ourselves. It might take three years to get the results. But that is fine, because it gives us so much time to fight pollution, in the unlikely event that the tests confirm that there is indeed air pollution and that it is harmful to children. It’s a matter of another three lakh children dying, but what do all those foreign agencies know. India is an ancient civilisation and we have always thought that its air purifies the body and soul. But now, those who do not know anything about the traditional role of air in India say that it has itself to be purified. Politics is in the air!

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EDITORIAL | Pollution reports? Foreign conspiracy!

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