Odd and Even: Is It a Plan or a Ploy?

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I was speaking to my colleague in New Delhi. “I don’t know why these people create a chaos?” He was impatient. “You need to give me a leave every alternate day. Or a desk-job every alternate day.”

The reference was to the odd and even plan that Delhi government had enforced for 15 days starting from the first day of January. On odd days (read dates), only private cars having odd vehicle numbers can ply. And, on every next day, on an even day, those having even vehicle numbers will ply. The objective is to reduce pollution in the state and the national capital.

“Government has arranged adequate public transfer facility to enable those unlucky people to move on every alternate day. You see, the luck comes in alternate quantum too.” I showed optimism, and added, “Taxis are on CNG and will be operational anyway; metro too.”

“Why can they (Government) not make all private cars off the road on alternate days? It will be easy for them to track, I believe.” He opined.

“But then, it will be an uphill task to manage a twice large population on public transport system in those alternate days.” I was convinced of my ascertainment.

He was in no mood to relent. “Well, they could have gone for weekends for such vehicular restrictions. Why not in other holidays – it’s always a regular phenomenon in India?”

“Holiday schemes may not affect pollution control like those on working days.” I argued.

“But it can be a good start,” he retorted.

“I know that it is a well-crafted ploy to distract attention of people from something more important. I know it creates a good framework to engage the warring police leadership in a complicated traffic mess – at least for 15 days.”

I was surprised by his level of analysis. In fact, this scheme gave an engaging game of activity for citizens to identify which neighbour or colleague violated the norms – responsibility of fighting pollution lay with citizens. It also gave ever isolated city people to spend some quality time with other humans through carpooling (remembering the 1996 comedy film, Carpool) and using public conveyance.

“Engage general people in activities and develop a spirit of competition among them,” my colleague intervened my train of thoughts. “And people will not evaluate performance of government,” I inadvertently told knowing that it was just one side of the story – a hypothesis.

“Like Swachh Bharat campaign,” he continued.

“It will be an unending negotiation of theories and viewpoints. It will be a political statement if we associate other plans from other governments here,” I told. But I was sure that he would step out and relish the company of people around when his vehicle number fell out of the scheme on a day. Before I kept the phone down, I forgot to ask him his vehicle number. Perhaps it’s odd, else it must be even.

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