New Delhi. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh recently branded SUVs “criminal” due to their environmental impact. Now the Government of India is drawing on schemes designed to reduce smoking to discourage the rich from buying these large and polluting vehicle. Like cigarette packets, all new SUVs sold in India will carry a compulsory warning bumper sticker.
After a successful trial in the capital, the law will be rolled out across the country next month. However, the warning stickers have proven controversial as some claim that they bring not only environmental, but also social shame on the driver.
“This I can just about cope with,” said Rajiv, pointing to the “Driver has no environmental conscience” sticker on the bumper of his BMW SUV, “but I have to explain to people that it just isn’t true. I love the environment. People complain about cheap flights, well I always fly business class, so there.”
Other stickers contain more concrete geographical examples. The bumper sticker on Ashok’s new Porsche Cayenne states: “0.00001 responsible for next flood in Bengal” in Bangla. “I had no idea to start with,” he explained, “I can’t read Bangla, so I thought it was just the cleaning instructions for the staff. No wonder Sushmit won’t sweep the drive anymore.”
The penalties for removing the mandatory stickers are severe. The Traffic Police have the power to issue on the spot stickers and can use their discretion in coming up with emergency slogans, as Harpreet found out. The 45 year old BMW owner removed the initial sticker, which read “I have the carbon footprint of 1/4 Patna”, only to be caught by the police the following week.
“They made a really big deal of it,” he told Faking News, “they wouldn’t let me get out of my car. They just stood around giggling for a while, then they said they’d issued a “replacement” and I should be on my way.” Harpreet was initially glad that he didn’t have to pay a bribe and didn’t waste too much time. “But when I got home I saw this,” he said, pointing to the replacement sticker, which reads “I have a small penis”. It is valid for five years.
Other replacement stickers issued by the Traffic Police include: “Just another asshole in a big car”, “my Dad bought me this car”, “I’m probably a criminal”, “Mid-life-crisis-mobile” and “Stop this guy. He’ll give you Rs.500”. Morale in the Traffic Police is said to be on a high.
“We think this is a great idea,” said Raman Kapadia of environmental NGO, Green Streak, “it will shame people out of SUVs and onto more sustainable forms of transport like bicycles, buses, the metro and donkeys. We don’t think the Traffic Police are going too far. These people need to be punished.”
Faking News asked if he could confirm the relationship between SUV ownership and penis size, but we were told that this was “not something Green Streak is working on, although you could have something there.”
Warnings appear on cigarette packets and now SUVs. However, this policy is not new. For years, Chinese Triads and the Japanese Yakuza have been tattooing warnings on those individuals they find disagreeable.
Pressure groups in the US have long been campaigning for a compulsory obese person to greet customers at McDonalds.
“Oh well,” says Harpreet, “I can’t live with this sticker and there’s only one way out of this. What’s the cheapest Ferrari running on diesel?”