Heroes come in different shapes, with different roles, and all real heroes are important because heroism cannot be quantified by the size (of the achievement). Heroism is the courage, the faith, the stamina and doing something to the best of oneself in given circumstances and place that separates heroes from mere mortals.
With that said we tip our hats to Sunita Narain and Bhure Lala - featured as one of Time magazine's Climate Crusaders.
Their crusade is not old news because air pollution is a daily threat to health, and clean air is everyone's right everyday.
Living with grimy face and lungs should not be the price to pay for living in India. Clear skies are not the prerogative of the rich who can go for holidays abroad.
Narain and Lal's efforts to build the world's cleanest public transport network fueled by CNG in Delhi was and is a heroic task. Narain said, "New Delhi was choking to death", adds Lal, "Air pollution was taking one life per hour".
They were opposed by transport companies who were required to upgrade or retrofit their fleet, oil companies fought back with claims that CNG was as polluting as diesel and petrol (in order not to upgrade refining processes) and the government often sided with special interest groups which were their vote and support banks.
Lal and Narain did not give up and as a result "by December 2002, the last diesel bus had left Delhi, and 10,000 taxis, 12,000 buses and 80,000 rickshaws were powered by CNG" according to Time.
In this year in which Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for his work for the Earth, and US is buying record number of hybrid vehicles its time to put the Indian vote and money behind the works of Narain and Lal so India can breathe easy and live healthy. India owes itself and its future a sustainable infrastructure based on clean, green foundations.
And as political parties begin drawing strategies for the next elections it is time that the voters demand a defined environmental plan with a specific time table for executing clean air, clean water initiatives in the top 100 cities. Elections should not be won by rhetoric or SRK as proposed UP Chief Minister, elections should be won by those who have solutions for India's needs.
India needs to raise above caste, creed, religion, protectionism, dogma and focus on being one of the leaders of the new flat, technology driven world where walls have fallen and borders have blurred. Berlin wall is gone, Russia is history, China is a WTO member and building like crazy, so why be mired in our internal darkness?
Why not have ministers like Narain and Lal? And why not feature real heroes on page 3, Times of India and Society?