News this week has featured the Tata Nano again. In entirely separate incidents, three Nanos broke into flames, one each in Delhi, Lucknow and Ahmedabad. This is an outcome that was not predicted in the Nano “storm” that has been raging ever since its inception. Most people are worried about the probable damage to India’s infrastructure and the environment that this car would create. The Nano has lost some of its shine, with people now hesitating to place an order for it. Can the Nano live out its current battle or is it headed for a short life? Here is a look at some Big Bangs that didn’t quite make it.
About a decade ago, there was much hype over the new ‘Millennium’ that was dawning. But, amid all the celebrations, there was also worldwide apprehension over the ‘Y2K’ bug that was supposed to hit computers worldwide. New Zealand and Australia were the first countries to cross into the New Year. They were watched by the world that wondered what damage, if any, the Y2K would cause when it struck. But, apart from a few exceptions, the world was largely unaffected when system dates changed from 1999 to 2000. What was deemed to be a major threat may have been a mere exaggeration.
And, while on the subject of a new Millennium, why not scale it down to what happens at the end of every year? For many people, the end of a year and the start of the next is a reason to get to the best party in town. For many more (again, barring a few exceptions) it is a reason to set New Years Resolutions that generally don’t survive their first month. Also, on New Years Day, people flock to places of worship, but some rarely pay a visit there anytime during the rest of the year. All the celebrations and efforts aim to ring out the old and ring in the new. But, is it right to restrict it all to one day and to make less of an effort to live better or to be happy as the year wears in?
Rewind to April 12th 1912 when the Titanic was launched from Southampton. Needless to say, the ship was not only christened the ‘Unsinkable Ship,’ but it was also the most luxurious ship of its time. However, it struck an iceberg on its first voyage across the ocean. Out of over 2200 passengers, about 700 survived. Even though it had the best in terms of comfort, it was found severely lacking in safety. It was a bitter ending for such a grand vessel. Since then, the most success the Titanic has ever had was with a movie by the same name.
On the entertainment side, the hit sitcom ‘Friends’ ruled over the rest for more than ten years. When it neared its final season, there was much debate as to whether or not the show must go on. In the end, ‘Joey’ was born. This spin-off was centered on one of the six characters of the original cast. ‘Joey’ had high hopes pinned on it as it was given the prime time slot on and was vigorously promoted by NBC. However, the number of viewers and the ratings associated with it continuously declined over two seasons leading to an eventual cancellation.
Moving to the film industry, an Academy Award is supposed to be the highest honor one can receive. The yearly award ceremony is a showcase of glamour and talent. But, after the initial thrill, how many candidates are recognized beyond their winning performances? Some of them have been forgotten soon after. For example, Adrian Brody or Queen Latifah who have had some success since, but not quite up to the level of their Oscar nominated performances. Also, the actress Hilary Swank who wasn’t noticed much between her two Oscar wins.
Coming back to the Nano, it has survived criticism related to its environmental effects. However, it has yet to deal with the infrastructural concerns of the public. It has survived trouble at its manufacturing plants. It also faced problems because of its price. Despite all this, it received a grand response to its unveiling last year. There are many that argue about the Nano’s relative demerits, but no car can quite justify the term ‘People’s Car’ as effectively as the Nano. With that in mind, let’s hope that the Nano continues to live up to all that it represents and all that it has to offer.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.