Individuals Can Make a Difference: A View from India

We turn to the Streetsblog Network for a little inspiration this morning, courtesy of Robin Chase — author of the blog Network Musings
and former CEO of Zipcar. Chase shares a story from a friend in India,
Vinay Jayaswal, who believes that meaningful change on the most
overwhelming issues can, and must, begin with the actions of
individuals:

my_india_flag_child.jpgJust think what he could accomplish if he put his mind to it. (Photo: Network Musings)

The moral of the story for Vinay is that people
want to help, want to do the right thing, want to improve society. They
just don’t have the confidence to act and take the first step. They
can’t figure out the first step; they think the process will be
complicated and difficult. They think no one will follow. They expect
government to be the enabler.

Just do it, says Vinay. Think
globally.
His most pressing issues were environment, sanitation, and
health — intractable issues for the common Indian. Act individually.
Vinay isn’t going to wait for government. He believes individuals can
work together to help themselves. His budding idea will include
a website and hope to spur Indian youth to take action on issues that
affect their daily lives.

Many people in India are making those individual efforts. In the nation’s most populous city, Mumbai, they’ve organized a Car-Free Day
for February 21st. It’s the first such effort in Mumbai, which suffers
from some of the world’s most chronically congested traffic conditions.

And in the small town of Ferezopur, on the India-Pakistan
border, temporary street closures for a festival inspired a few
individuals to push for a permanent car-free zone. Local merchants were skeptical at first, but have been happy with the results, and the zone may eventually expand.

These
are just a couple of examples of how, even in a nation of 1.17 billion
people, individuals can take responsibility and drive progress — if
they just choose to act rather than wait for someone else to take the
lead.

  • JW

    So apparently 20-40% of Indians are vegetarian.

    Environmentally speaking, I’d say they’re already doing their part as a country. We could learn a thing or two in that sense.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Meet the Network: UrbanReviewSTL

|
It’s been nearly ten months since we first started building the Streetsblog Network — a group of bloggers around the country and around the world who write about livable streets, transportation policy, sustainable development and related topics. To find these folks, we asked our friends for tips and then went out hunting on the Internet. […]

The Issue of Bike Theft in L.A. Goes Mainstream

|
Now THAT’s vigilantiasm. Photo: Prawnpie/Flickr As cycling grows more and more popular, both in Los Angeles and across the country, the problem with bike thieves also grows.  All of a sudden, those bicycles that were safe chained to a poll with a U-Lock are easy targets for thieves instead of safe.  In response to growing […]