Friday, 11 January 2008

Saturday Photo: The People Who Are Going to Buy Tata's New Car

Well, I can't say if this young couple will have the wherewithal or the desire to buy one of Indian car manufacturer's car for the masses, the Nano, which was unveiled by industrial giant Tata this week. But I do know for sure that they are part of the Indian middle class which is delighting in its increasing purchasing power.

I took their picture two years ago when I was in Kochi on the southwest coast of the subcontinent. They were at a horticultural show along with several thousand others, enjoying an afternoon outing. I took an autorickshaw to the show, letting the driver wend his way through the heavy traffic of motorbikes, light trucks, other autorickshaws and white Indian-made sedans. Those who wonder what the introduction of a cheap passenger car will do to the already intense Indian traffic and consequent greenhouse gas emissions have legitimate concerns, although Tata says the Nano will be less polluting than motorcycles.

Without a doubt, the Nano and other cheap cars being developed will be safer than motorcycles, too. I was astounded to see families on scooters: Dad driving with an older child sitting in front of him on the cross bar while Mom balanced in back, holding a baby in one arm, while she gripped the seat with her free hand. How they did it is beyond me, because the one motorbike ride I had in Kochi traffic left me with muscle cramps in my arms from hanging on to the driver for dear life.

For more about Kochi, see my post on Urbanphoto. Or check out the chapter on it in Green City: People, Nature, and Urban Places.

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