Rough Cut

Delhi pollution: What Kejriwal could learn from Churchill

In 1952, a thick smog enveloped London for days causing the death of an estimated 12,000.

 |  Rough Cut  |  2-minute read |   08-11-2016
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Since Arvind Kejriwal likes to watch movies, perhaps he can take time out to watch episode four of Netflix’s new miniseries The Crown. In Act of God, a young Queen Elizabeth II is headed for a showdown with an ageing Prime Minister Winston Churchill over his handling of The Great Smog.

In 1952, a thick smog enveloped London for days causing the death of an estimated 12,000. Churchill was less than agitated about the smog, the result of polluting industries and people burning coal for warmth, scoffing at the initial panic it caused in the Conservative Party, where Anthony Eden was looking to take control.

kejrichurchill_110816052433.jpg Since Arvind Kejriwal likes to watch movies, perhaps he can take time out to watch episode four of Netflix’s new miniseries The Crown. [Photo: Indiatoday.in]

Lord Mountbatten (Elizabeth’s husband Philip’s uncle) comes to the Queen with a proposal that she ask Churchill to resign for his handling of the smog, which disrupts public services, causes deaths, stretches hospital staff to the maximum, and brings London to a grinding halt. For the young Queen it is a difficult moment and she turns to her grandmother for advice, who tells her the most difficult thing for a sovereign to do is to do nothing.

Indeed nothing is pretty much what Churchill does too. But a master publicist, he gives a great speech at a public hospital he visits (writing it on the prescription pad), and calls a quick press conference, sanctioning more staff and more money. He also orders an inquiry, the result of which is the Clean Air Act of 1956 which shifted London’s polluting industries out. He is a hero once again, tying the young Queen’s hands, who has no choice but to do and say nothing especially after the smog lifts miraculously the next day.

Kejriwal has no such luck. Unlike Churchill he hasn’t saved the free world from death, destruction, evil and tyranny during a World War. He doesn’t have a Queen Elizabeth who is wary of exercising her power to ask him to step down.  He cannot rely on fate to save him from smog either. He has to deliver. He has to save Delhi from The Great Smoke that is threatening to undermine it.

Also read - We are looking at the most depressing winters in Delhi in recent years

Writer

Kaveree Bamzai Kaveree Bamzai @kavereeb

Consulting editor, India Today Group

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