Friday, January 11, 2008

Driving Forces

The Tatas have finally come out with the much-talked about ‘one-lakh car’. Naturally, no event of significance (or insignificance) can take place in our country without the customary news channel debates. The environmentalists with their scepticism on the pollution that numerous such cars on the road would add to; the auto journalist quite in favour of what he had seen at the launch; Suhel Seth taking on all the detractors of the car. Times Now had one of the most entertaining debates yesterday, and for the first time, thanks to Seth, I was thoroughly convinced that the Nano would fulfil the promises the Tatas had been making. I must admit I was quite sceptical about the scheme when it was announced, but seeing that it is quite a neat little design and doesn’t compromise on any of the necessities, it is perhaps the answer to a common man’s dream of owning a car.

The Tatas were never people to do things by half-measures. The Nano is a simple, straightforward car with no frills. As of now, it doesn’t aspire to the features that essentially define the ideas of ‘dream cars’. However, it will help a lot of people move towards their dream of owning a car. It might cost a little more than a lakh; it will still be the most affordable car around. During the debate, the environmentalists questioned if it would be environmentally feasible. Medha Patkar argued against the crowding of roads, and against building highways. Sunita Narain protested against the environmental implications, as did Dr. RK Pachauri. Most of these people are in favour of improving public transport. They argue that India doesn’t have environmental norms that are strict enough. So why should that turn them against the Tatas, who don’t make laws here, but are just trying to help ordinary people realise their dreams?

Seth said these people were against progress; that they had ‘a problem for every solution’. If pollution is the only objection, surely that is to be alleviated through measures that don’t include calling for a ban on the manufacture of cars. We cannot protest against car manufacturers who want to set up shop in India and sell their cars here and perhaps even export them. What of all the employment opportunities? People cannot be forced to depend on public transport. Think of the Blueline buses. If the Chief Minister of Delhi couldn’t be persuaded to travel on one, is it justifiable to deny a common man private transport that he can afford? This is lopsided logic, coming from people who probably haven’t used public transport in years.

Switching gears to extremely expensive cars, the lineup for the ForceIndia F1 team has finally been announced.
Giancarlo Fisichella, in danger of finding himself jobless after having to make way at Renault for ex-teammate (or rival) Fernando Alonso, had Vijay Mallya come to his rescue. He will partner German Adrian Sutil, whose talents have been appreciated in his earlier stint with Midland F1 (which is now ForceIndia). Former Toro Rosso driver Vitantonio Liuzzi will be testing for the Indian-Dutch team. It will be interesting to see what the priorities of this new team will be. Testing wasn’t particularly impressive; but now, with a race-winning driver in its ranks who will bring in a good bit of experience and expertise, they should be able to move up above Super Aguri. That is the least they can do.

One grudge, though- can no sport in India do without a movie star for company? Shah Rukh Khan is the brand ambassador of the ForceIndia team. Having it endorsed by the drivers themselves, or other sportsmen, would have been better. Oh well, Mallya knows best.


Arun said...

personally I feel its so silly to call it force India and not have an indian racer..and yes it was crappy to get SRK to endorse it..

Jaya S said...

I'm not quite against the fact that we don't have an Indian racer this year. Force India needs the experience established racers can bring in, because it can't go any lower than it already is. Maybe Chandhok will be around next year, so take heart. As of now, the 'Force' from 'India' is only monetary.