Thomas L. Friedman, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winning foreign affairs columnist of The New York Times and the author of the best-selling The World is Flat, has written a piece on the monster that threatens to gobble up India—the Tatas’ one-lakh-rupee, four-door, four-seat, rear-engine car.
“India is in serious danger — no, not from Pakistan or internal strife. India is in danger from an Indian-made vehicle: a $2,500 passenger car, the world’s cheapest.
“We have no right to tell Indians what cars to make or drive. But we can urge them to think hard about following our model, without a real mass transit alternative in place.
“Cheap conventional four-wheel cars… could overwhelm India’s already strained road system, increase its dependence on imported oil and gridlock the country’s megacities.
“So what should India do? India can’t ban a $2,500 car, but it can tax it like crazy until it has a mass transit system that can give people another cheap mobility option, said Sunita Narain, the dynamo who directs New Delhi’s Center for Science and Environment…
“If India just innovates in cheap cars alone, its future will be gridlocked and polluted. But an India that makes itself the leader in both cheap cars and clean mass mobility is an India that will be healthier and wealthier.
“It will also be an India that gives us cheap answers to big problems — rather than cheap copies of our worst habits.”
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