True leaders lead by action: A welcome change among the politicians (that 'practice what you preach' comes back in political fashion)
- Ahmedabad mayor Gautam Shah has decided to take the BRTS to his office once a month. Last Monday, he initiated his resolve by commuting to his office via BRTS instead of his official car and he used the public transport throughout the day.
- A municipal corporater from Asarawa has resolved to cycle to the municipal corporation once a month. We hear the same news about a Member of Parliament who cycles to the Parliament everyday.
- Similarly, the Delhi government has decided to put in place the odd-even car use restrictions. The cabinet of Delhi lead the citizens by their own actions. Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister, has been cycling to office. Chief minister Arvind Kejariwal is car-pooling.
This is a welcome trend among the politicians across party lines. They are leading by actions. ‘Practice what you preach’ went out of political fashion in last two-three decades. But let us hope it is slowly coming back to public life and public discourse.This is a great trend nationally because the politicians are giving us an important message – individual actions actions matter.
One can be cynical and say that how much do these individual actions matter in the global picture of environmental protection. One trip less by car is not going to protect the environment. Well, it all starts with whether or not you believe in small actions and their power of transforming the world.
Unfortunately, the environmental discourse in India has not become about individual choices. The environmental discourse is more distant from one’s own self in India, where it is ‘some one else’ who is going to protect the environment, not ‘you’!
Some people also believe in ‘my right to pollute’ because we are a developing country. There is an assumption that we will have to pollute our way to prosperity. India as a country might take a bit longer to adopt to fully eco-friendly energy resources.That does not mean that we, as individuals will use that as an excuse not to change our polluting choices. We should not be comfortable with ‘right to pollute’ without exploring the alternatives. Environmental protection or more specifically, pollution-free cities is all about the individual choices that we make in our daily life.
Using a cycle to reach the office or taking public transport once in a while, will help us get out of the routine and try something new. Environmentally-friendly choices are also health friendly. The politicians have already shown us a way and now it is for the citizens do their bit. For politicians will go where we would like them to go. Do we want them to ‘practice what they preach’? Then we will also have to do the same – walk on the righteous path we expect others to walk. Finally, it is for us to decide if we want to make our individual actions matter.
(21st December, 2015: DNA Ahmedabad edition, Cities Supplement, Page 5)