Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Its possible...

...its possible, that the corruption that permeades into so many aspects of government, has caused the following scenario:

A brief background before I start: As you are aware, petrol prices differ across the country due to different amounts of taxes levied by the state governments. Bangalore, where I live currently, has petrol at one of the highest (I think!) prices in India, well over Rs.50 per litre.

Now, for the foundation: Those of you (who don't live in Bangalore) but who have driven/ridden by themselves for even a few days in Bangalore in the recent past, would have noticed that Bangalore has an unusually high ratio of one-way streets. There are long stretches that need a break in the road, and many times you will find yourself stuck behind a mile of traffic slowly inching towards a seemingly always red light, trying to figure out how long before you get to enter that lane on the opposite side of the road. For those of you who do live in Bangalore, you know what I'm talking about.

Now, here's the hypothesis: Firstly, its possible that oil corporations play a role in the petrol prices across states. Cities like Bombay and Bangalore have enough personal and corporate wealth respectively to be able to support gas-guzzling vehicles as much as required. Hence, it makes sense to have higher prices where you know there is very low price elasticity.

Secondly, its also possible that, in a city like Bangalore, oil corporations have influenced those in power to add one-ways to the ever burgeoning traffic on the roads. Not only does it cause commuters to travel for longer distances (and hence use more petrol) but another fallout is traffic jams where most people inevitably end up burning more petrol.

Now, oil is big money all over the world, and any corporation will have sales targets... who's to say which practices are or are not being adopted at local levels to achieve the ends?

Now, I don't work for a leading oil corporation, and I doubt that most people who work will know or admit to this if its happening, but what's to stop a few head honchos from influencing the highest echelons of a traffic control organization to add more one-ways, that directly increase average travelling distances and time for commuters, and reward the accessories once they see a positive correlation in increased sales revenues.

Now, some of you might think this to be a bit far fetched - you might feel that corporations wouldn't want to get involved in activity of this sort, because its too risky for their reputations.

So let me allow you to imagine the same 'conspiracy' theory - but this time, you replace the oil corporations by the state government department that gets this tax on petrol.

Now does that sound more plausible?