Why Lead a Healthy Lifestyle When Delhi's Killing You Anyway

Be furious that you and everyone you care about who lives in this city are all victim to a slow and silent genocide.

People exercise in a park on a smoggy morning in New Delhi (Photo: Reuters/Saumya Khandelwal)

By Shantanu David, News18

I've got a headache. Right between the eyes, chipping away at my attention and concentration. My chest feels tight and constricted as well. Usually, I'd suspect a reaction to too much caffeine but I've cut down my coffee intake drastically. Yeah, I'm on this new fitness and diet plan; it's really great. Low carbs, high on protein and fibre, and of course all the good fats along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a great diet, balanced with exercise, cardio, some weight training. The usual. Getting at least 6 hours of sleep every night, taking breaks from staring at screens the whole day. You know.

Nothing extreme but yeah. I'm making, what I think, are good, sustainable lifestyle decisions to improve the quality and chronology of my life. Technology is advancing crazy fast, places and ideas are so accessible now and the world is connected like never before. It's a good time to be alive. And clicking, er, kicking. And so I'm doing everything I can to live a long, healthy and productive life, right here in the NCR.

But then, have you seen Twitter of late? It's crazy how everyone is getting so steamed up about this smog thing. Ok, that might be a poor choice of words, but seriously. Why's everyone so angry? Don't be angry. You were dying anyway.

As in, we're all dying, right? Circle of life and death, ashes to ashes, the serpent eating its tail, one ring to rule them all. Ok, I might have gotten mixed up there but you get the point. We're all dying, in a sense, as soon as we're born. It's the natural order of things. So why should you get angry about a few days of smog? It's not like it's killing you, right? Except you should, and it is. You shouldn't be angry that you're dying. You should be furious that you're getting killed. Because that's what's happening.

You, the person reading this. You are being killed. Your children are being killed, your parents are being killed, and your friends are being killed. And the people whom you elected to serve you are party to it (at worst) or merely ignoring the genocide (at best). Because make no mistake. This is slow, this is insidious, but this is murder. You're being murdered, along with everyone you care about and who live in your National Capital Region. That's 25 million people collectively, slowly being killed. And that, boys and girls, is genocide. It may be genocide via neglect, but semantics don't really matter in the face of rapidly decreasing lung function.

The government doesn't care about you. Why should it? There's a replacement for the guy who'll replace your replacement. One point three billion strong, remember? And counting. You may be a unique snowflake, dear reader but, despite its mostly tropical climate, there’s plenty of snow to go around here. The later than last minute measures hastily pushed out by the authorities aren’t so much as building a gate to the stable from which the horse has been stolen as it is placing an ineffective barrier to the stable in which the horse has been carved up and smoked to make salami (Fun fact: cured meats also contain carcinogens).

And that’s the biggest issue at hand. You cannot turn on the news without seeing doctors stating again and again and again that just the last few days of pollution have exponentially increased the chances of getting cancer, never mind the incidence of respiratory issues. Even newborns are being treated for breathing problems at an unprecedented level. The first breath of every baby born in the capital region of the world’s largest democracy in the last few days will probably give them a chronic illness, or worse, during their lifetime. India isn’t going to be a superpower in the future as much as it is going to be the world’s highest user of ventilators.

And yet people are only angry. No one seems to really care that they are going to lose years, if not decades, from their lives and the lives of their children. All the hopes and aspirations that you have for your kids, the great future you want for them? They don’t look really rosy now, perhaps. Just because you’re living in a certain part of the country where uncaring authorities let conditions fester until you’re literally breathing in poison.

You may be living the most healthy possible lifestyle, eating all the quinoa and omega 3 fats you can buy at premium prices, exercising regularly (not running though, I hope), doing all the Yoga aasans you can find online, and generally making every effort to stay healthy, but you’re going to get chronic and or terminal diseases regardless. The balanced diet and regular exercise you try and ensure for your kids? Not going to be much help given that most of them are going to get chronic Bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic asthma, or the most chronic one of them all, cancer, because the city you live, work and raise your children in breathes in government-sanctioned poison. Your parents whom you brought to live in the city, close to first-rate medical care facilities and amenities? They’ll get to experience the gamut off all those facilities, no fear.

And the weird thing is that while people may be complaining, no one is really taking this as seriously as they should. We’re all muttering, of course, non-government bodies are raising all the clamour, and meanwhile, the authorities are hoping all this noise will drown out the real warning: the administration doesn’t care.

The Delhi High Court on Friday gave an urgent hearing on a plea which dubbed the air pollution in the national capital as "emergency-like situation" and sought answers from the Delhi government and state pollution control committee on the measures taken to curb it. During the hearing, the bench observed that since the petitioners have not filed any application seeking interim relief, it cannot "do anything more except issuing a notice" and sought the replies of the Delhi government and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) by July 25, the next date of hearing.

The petition, filed by students Mihir Garg and Rashi Jain in wake of the prevailing severe air pollution that has engulfed the national capital for the last couple of days, was responded to by the Delhi government which said that pollution was "not man-made" as the dust storm from Rajasthan was "very strong".

"It has become impossible for any person in Delhi to breathe properly and walk over the streets without having an apprehension of death due to air pollution or inheriting serious diseases like cancer," the plea has said.

"Living atmosphere in Delhi similar to a gas chamber because of failure on the part of respondents to perform necessary functions so as to carry out essential functions during the course of emergency situations like this," it said, adding that the petitioners had waited for two days for the authorities to take adequate steps to combat the situation.

Every other city in the world which has faced similar issues with smog has dealt determinedly and successfully with the issue, from Los Angeles to Beijing to London. Even if there has been a particularly dangerous incident like the 1952 Great Smog of London, authorities swung into action to ensure it wasn’t repeated. Meanwhile, Delhi was in the same situation last winter; literally. Every person who was lauding or criticizing the Odd-Even scheme last year is doing the exact same thing this year, with only the coughing having gone up.

And maybe that’s what really matters. Maybe the government doesn’t care (apart from its Constitutionally-guaranteed apathy) because we don’t care. We cough, we complain, we hashtag and then we move on. It’s not like we’re dying today, right? And hopefully, we’ll be dead before the next generation can blame their lifetime of respiratory illnesses on us. Also, the Delhi politicians and their kids and grandkids are going to be coughing and wheezing and dying right along beside us. So that’s nice of them.

So don't be angry. Be furious. Be furious that you and everyone you care about who lives in this city are all victims to a slow and silent genocide. Be furious that your government doesn't care. Be furious that they’re also stupid, apart from uncaring, because they’re dying right along with us. Be furious that the system has broken. Be incensed. Be enraged. But don't be angry.


Note: If you think this story need more information or correction, feel free to comment below your opinion and reaction.

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Lifestyle News: Why Lead a Healthy Lifestyle When Delhi's Killing You Anyway
Why Lead a Healthy Lifestyle When Delhi's Killing You Anyway
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