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.

  • Heading over the First Avenue right now with some orange cones to protect and bike lane and Bus lane.

  • From the Kaid Benfield article‘s source:

    “Land [in urban areas] is more difficult to find than on the fringes, it often costs more, and developers can face intense opposition from downtown residents resistant to change.”

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Q&A With City Council Transportation Chair Jimmy Vacca

|
This January, Bronx City Council Member Jimmy Vacca took over the transportation committee from outgoing chair John Liu. Vacca sketches out a street in his district where speeding is a problem. Photo: Noah Kazis Vacca represents an eastern Bronx district where car ownership is higher than the New York City average, and he’s come in […]

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. […]

Paco Abraham Turns Duane Reade on to Bike Racks

|
Yesterday DOT announced it is seeking submissions for the first ever bike-friendly business awards. This being the week of Earth Day, a few bike-positive firms have come to our attention recently — Macy’s, W Hotels, J Crew — but the most substantial business-led effort to improve the city’s cycling environment this year may have come […]