Air pollution has been Delhi’s persistent enemy. It rears its head at the onset of winter when heavy smog envelopes the national capital, reducing visibility and causing physical discomfort. While firecrackers and burning of crops in neighbouring states worsen the quality of air that’s already toxic, meteorological conditions make the air thick and stagnant, hence trapping the pollution close to the ground. As Delhi chokes on bad air, the rise in air pollution in other Indian cities is equally disconcerting. The analysis of the Central Pollution Control Board’s data since 2002 showed that all major cities in north and central India— Gwalior, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Gwalior and Surat—have recorded higher pollution rise in percentage terms between 2002 and 2014 as compared to Delhi.
Gurgaon, around 25 miles from India’s capital New Delhi, is one of the country’s newest tech hubs — home to global players such as Google and Microsoft as well as some of India’s biggest startups like food delivery firm Zomato and India’s biggest hotel chain OYO. Mathur, who worked for Zomato, stayed there only nine months before moving with her fiancée Harshavardhan Singh to the southern city of Bangalore.
“If you want to work in tech then Bangalore is your number one choice,” says Singh, who left OYO for Flipkart, India’s top online retailer that was bought by Walmart last year. India’s energy needs are rising as it tries to extend the manufacturing and tech boom to lift millions more out of poverty. That means more factories, more offices, more residences and vehicles. Companies that rode India’s tech boom know they have to pitch in because the future of their business may depend on it. While some of the biggest names in tech and finance are committed to solving India’s environmental crisis, there’s much more to be done. When it comes to fighting India’s pollution, congestion and water shortages, the country’s lack of infrastructure can be a challenge.
Amazon’s Saxena says it’s harder to procure plastic substitutes like wood and paper in India in large enough quantities than in more mature economies, and the fact that most deliveries take place on motorcycles rather than vans or trucks means the packaging has to be a lot more flexible and adaptable.