By Dinesh Wagle
In a terrible afternoon last week, as I was walking on a parched street and struggling with the heat wave, I realized something. Heat in Delhi comes as a curfew. Very few people were on the street that would otherwise be packed in normal circumstances. The street, I observed, remained vacated for about four hours in the afternoon beginning from around 12. People often get dehydrated and, in some extreme cases, die because of heat wave. So what do you do? The heat imposed curfew-like situation means you will have to stay indoors consuming energy via air conditioners and coolers. But that’s only when there is no loadshedding in your area.
The rising temperature throughout India came as a challenge to its democracy too. Reports from various parts of the country suggested that voter turnout at the elections has been very low as people didn’t get out of their homes because of the intense heat. Some towns have already recorded as much as 47 degrees celsius. Not even half of Mumbai turned to polling stations on Thursday in an election held under the shadow of the Nov. 26 terrorist attacks. But the Election Day in Mumbai wasn’t that hot (only around 35C). So the media quickly blasted the city for being indifferent to the democratic process. “All talk, no vote,” said one headline the next day. “Despite 26/11, candle-light vigils and voter campaigns, Mumbai stays home.”
“Temperature rose to 43 but voter turnout went below 44,” said a reporter from another city on a TV channel. Continue reading