Zombie Attack in Urban India

Everyone knows the Automoibile Industry in India, specially the personal car segment, has seen nothing short of a revolution in the past 5-6 years.

The economic boom of India and the overall increase in the income levels, spending powers and general affluence of the middle class, especially in urban areas . . . coupled with the easy availability of car loans, has resulted in cars being affordable for more families now than was possible ever before in Indian history.

Sales of passenger cars might have slowed in developed economies, but they are soaring in India. In the April-August 2010 period, car makers in India produced 7 million vehicles, against just one million vehicles in the entire 2004-2005 financial year. The passenger-car production in the April-August 2011 period was 34 per cent higher than in the same period last year, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Last year, India’s vehicle sector, which employs 10 million people, achieved a turnover of more than 2 trillion rupees (Dh165.65 billion), according to an economic survey that the government presented in parliament.

And this year, India emerged as the world’s seventh-largest vehicle producer, six years ahead of the government’s target date for reaching that goal.

What this means for all of us is that there are more options now for a middle class family wanting to buy a car than ever before.

Potential car buyers nowadays rarely have to think of a car purchase in terms of how much the car actually costs. The deal-breaker for them is how much is the monthly installment ?

Unlike earlier, The question is no longer  “Can I afford a Rs.500,000/- car ?”  but rather  “Can I afford an EMI of Rs. 8000/- per month ?” 

Moreover……The fact that a whopping 32% of all private automobile loans end up as ‘defaulter’ cases across all banks is a clear indication of where this blind wheel frenzy is heading…… This, however, is clearly not a deterrence to banks offering fresh car loans as their loans are secured by insurance companies who in turn get their own mathematics right by repossessing, re-furbishing and re-selling these cars in the lucrative tier 2 and tier 3 city markets. Everyone is Happy…. Except the people driving cars on the streets of urban India.

This suddenly-evolved, aggressively marketed, cut-throat-competition driven private car market and the increased cash flow of the middle class has resulted in more cars on urban roads per KM of road and more cars per household in our country than ever before.

The implications are obvious.

Why I am telling you all this is just to drive home the fact that –

“Everyone can afford a car now…”

While this is a great thing to say and might look good in print below a heading like “The American Dream” or “The Great Indian Economic Boom” or something…..What it has done for us is nothing less than a Zombie Attack on the streets of our cities.

Having unleashed an un-precedent number of senseless morons behind wheels on Indian Urban streets, in their “First Ever Cars” . . . armed with a 3 day crash course in a fast-track motor training schools with ZERO idea of what road ethics are, no understanding of any concept of lanes, no clue about what the hell is ‘Right of Way’, with the patience of a hungry dog in front of a juicy bone and a forward thinking ability & attention span of an Alzheimer’s patient on LSD.

The typical “First Car Owner“…… who takes pride in his shiny new possession and hates anyone, who dare come close to his garlanded, mini-temple carrying, lime & chilly adorned status symbol….. typically is just out having taken a crash course in one of the thousands of cheap driving schools mushroomed all over the country.

The sole focus of these driving schools is how to get more customers and how to get maximum customers to finish their ‘training’ in the shortest possible time in the fiercely competitve driving school industry. While these schools do teach how the gears, brake and accelerators work in a car, they do not waste their time touching on skills like Road ethics, Lane discipline, Right of way, Parking ethics, consideration, patience or the concern for the convenience and safety of other drivers and pedestrians using the road…..basically, trivial driving skills, without which you will not get into any legal trouble…..only be a pain to others.

There are thousands of these zombie-like drivers on the streets everyday creating hundreds of senseless, traffic jams and generally making driving in Indian cities worse than what it was…..(yes, looks like that’s even possible).

Anywhere your see a senseless traffic snarl, you can be sure that at the centre of it is an idiot who didn’t have the brains to stop for 30 seconds and let the cars in oncoming lanes pass so that he/she can be free to go. The moron was, in typical auto-rikshaw style, inching forward, after every vehicle, hoping and believing against all sense & logic that somehow jesus will part this sea of traffic and let him pass grandiosely…..causing gridlocks, screaming and honking like a retard, increasing air and noise pollution and wasting everyone’s time…..very often leading to Road Rage…..which everyone then carries home and takes out on their families.


Not that I have a quick solution to this…..just thinking aloud,

Is this going in the right direction for us as a city, a society, a country or a species ?