Opinion Piece Discusses India’s Air Pollution Crisis, Politicians’ Underplaying Of Statistics, Quantitative Evidence

Foreign Policy: India’s Deadly War on Experts
Dean Spears, executive director of the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics

“The air pollution in India is almost always bad, but in the winter it’s dire. For the last four national elections, Indians voted in late spring. Perhaps that is why national politics has seen so little attention paid to the ever-worsening air pollution. … Increasingly, many of India’s leading economists and statisticians have spoken out about the dismantling of India’s systems of official statistics and expertise. … Of course, India is not the only country where state statistics are under political threat from nationalism. … Amid this international trend, what makes official nonsense about air pollution so dangerous is the urgency of the threat: India’s air pollution kills over a million people each year. … [I]f politics cannot address the obvious and immediate environmental threat of air pollution, it may be even less likely to bring the quantitative measures that are required for India’s vulnerable population to escape the worst of climate change. … The election could have been a time for citizens to express some degree of preference for quantitative truth. Probably, the same officials would now occupy the same jobs. But perhaps they would have renewed their duties with a little more sense of sober fact that might help meet all of those quantitative targets that they proclaim” (7/9).

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