ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Democracy and the Small Car

The political role of the small car is as important as its environmental impact.

The collapse of public transport in the past few decades has been a stark feature of almost all urban areas in India. Significantly though, this matter has only found tangential reference in public discourse through issues like urban air pollution. Independent India has witnessed a sixfold rise in its urban population, and even though urbanisation remains low by the standards of the industrialised countries, close to 300 million of our citizens live in urban areas. It is important to realise that in order to thrive cities are crucially dependent on easy and inexpensive mobility of its residents over its urban space. Unfortunately, like other publicinfrastructure, public transport has been grossly neglected by city administrators, state and central governments, and this neglect has impacted the urban poor the most.

The ability to travel within the city is essential to actualise the economic and cultural potential of the place. Residents need to travel for work, for education, for socialisation and for procuring the needs of daily life. The more the areas of the city are within the easy reach of a particular citizen, the further her potential ability to increase choices of work, residence, consumption and socialisation. Increase in either the time or money required for such travel proportionatelyreduces the urban citizen’s ability to participate in civic and economic activities of the city and thus impacts adversely on her. As cities have expanded and distances within each urban space have increased manifold, the ability to travel these distances has reduced.

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