The ‘delta’ between the two mind-sets will maintain the equilibrium in the status quo, and keep our (consumers) ‘choola alive and cow giving milk’.

How Could a Big Shift From Cars to Bicycles Benefit Cities?: Bike-friendly cities are transforming Europe, says a report. “Could a major mobility shift from A) private cars to B) traditional and C) electric bicycles help European cities turn these aspirations into a reality?,” the report adds.

Comments by Irshad Salim, Karachi: These aspirations are: 1) More green space, 2) cleaner air, and 3) less congested roads in the cities. Sound great, however none of these are among the front-burner issues here for the time-being. An infographic (below) shared with me a few days back tells the story on imported and locally assembled ‘private cars’ in the country.

Cars have been a priority for decades. The X) State/Admin, the Y) Political Govts. and the Z) Elite have been on an overdrive–for revenues from imported stuffs and locally assembled ones which are majorly built on imported parts and components.

How? The ‘upstream’ national revenue over the decades were raked in by X & Y as duties & taxes slapped on the imports, and from the downstream on sales tax on car purchased by consumers (Z & others).

Our elite’s dream-car named desire has been, and still is heavily fueled by goodies, and the luxury of cars is one of them. In fact, the whole society now depends on imported stuffs. The list includes cat food for the rich and imported milk, ice cream, chocolates, cigarettes, to the upper strata thru middle class to the cul-de-sace of the last rung. These are just few items in the long list BTW.

The penchant, the want, the desire, the addiction to depend on imports became the new normal since the mid-80s. It still is, and I suspect it will be so until another new normal is available off the shelf.

So, who would go for B and C I ask myself–the interests of X, Y, and Z ought to converge first. It probably can if the sweetener for the switch is a combo of soft loans, aid, grants, and subsidies as a starter. Cuts & commissions, political dole outs and strategic support and funding would make things easier and happen.

That’s a far-cry for the present. The need of the treasury and the desire of the super-elite remain in convergence. One sliver of light in my view is the recent ‘import’ of Brazilian cows of ‘Pakistan-origin’ to breed more of them or cross-breed them here. I hope though the shift will help trigger a change of heart toward overseas Pakistanis holding ‘dual nationality’–they vehemently want systemic change at home similar to what they have experienced abroad–rule of law being the top-most priority. That I see somewhat happening: selectively or electively, by hook or by crook –according to many; but to many it doesn’t matter. The party must go on.

Going back to imports being the ‘putting food on the table’, the business community wittingly or unwittingly delivered expected results over the years as their interest lies in dollars & cents for understandable reasons–strategic thinking and long-term interests is not their cup of tea. And rest of the masses–the society albeit ‘consumers’–was the fodder–they were and are on the receiving end–they ought to eat the grass to keep giving milk (upstream duties & taxes and downstream sales tax). They still do so, and will.

Once they are told to please go back to school and this time by peddling the traditional bicycles (Sohrab) until we import/assemble EV bikes, 1&2 and 3 will be khair hai (it’s okay) by X and Y.

A Flash Back: That the cow must keep giving us milk I wrote in the mid-70s as a poetic expression titled ‘Dubai Chalo’:

The ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ war-cry was replaced with ‘Dubai Chalo’ mantra–remittances since then have been a blessing for the upstream and downstream stakeholders. And then, this happened:

E=mc2 where E stands for the economy; m for masses; and c for consumerism (with due apology to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity)

The convergence of X, Y and Z’s interests on imports and consumerism tractioned on the plank of the 90s global economy mantra which was essentially based on monetizing the populace’s spending habits. And we ran with it at the speed of light. We (masses) will still keep doing so–I’m told the former Dutch envoy in ISB used to ride one of them –to tell us all I guess, that the “Times have changed…please wake up”.

The shelf life of the e=mc2 mantra has however expired–that’s my opinion. There’s a whispering-wood-like humdrum in the air on this realization I feesee. Since there is a lead and lag phenomenon–overseas (lead) and lag here, we are presently in the paralysis of analysis state of mind. Hamza often says “we analyze the paralysis”. I take it, his comment means our focus is on how to keep doing what we have been doing and expecting same results: the cow keep giving us milk (metaphorically speaking). Hamza shared with me the other day Einstein’s quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Somewhat, good news is that C is in the works in a EV WhatsApp Forum. I see lots of noise in it–again it’s mostly about fully imported ones or locally assembled EV bikes though. There’s NO TALK on B. But the Dutch been doing it:

In short, while folks in the Bering Strait are measuring the impact of greater bicycle use, we in the Tropic of Cancer region are ambivalent about 1) green space, 2) cleaner air, and 3) less congested roads in the cities.

The ‘delta’ between the two mind-sets helps maintain the equilibrium in the status quo here to operate — until the ‘systemic transitional fluidity’ decides which way we are heading to.

My guess has been since January 2020: ‘back to school’. Let’s make a beginning with peddling bicycles and drinking local (desi) milk instead of riding cars and dampening our whiskers with carton milk.

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