Among the lakhs of Delhi residents taking to the government’s odd-even rule, apparently cheerfully, are high constitutional functionaries who are, on paper, exempted from the policy. Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and his brother judge, Justice A.K. Sikri, are carpooling to work. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and members of his council of ministers were pointedly not exempted from the rule — the AAP, which rails against the capital’s “VIP culture” every chance it gets, is obviously making a political point. The point is well made. An eye-catching example is being set, not just for ordinary citizens, but also for “VIPs”, by the chief minister himself adhering to the spirit of the policy and carpooling with colleagues Gopal Rai and Satyendar Jain, even as his deputy, Manish Sisodia, cycles to work. Pollution is a great leveller — it affects the high and mighty as well as the rest. As Justice Thakur had said, “All is not well with Delhi”, and at this time when all hands are needed on deck, these dignitaries are showing the way.
It’s early days yet, but so far the buy-in by citizens has also been heartening. As Health Minister Jain pointed out, the close to 2,000 chalans issued on Monday, the critical first working day after the rule came into effect, represent a minuscule proportion of the 20 lakh-odd registered cars in Delhi. A project of this scale, and compliance with it, cannot be railroaded by government diktat or the fear of chalans alone. Its success depends on citizens taking ownership of it.
India has a long history of leaders leading by example. By making small sacrifices in the fight against pollution, the judges and ministers of Delhi underscore the gravity of the problem, and encourage people to take charge of the search for solutions.