November 12, 2011 admin

Cars and Marriages are Made in Heaven

Navdeep Asija
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There was a time when one out of a hundred marriages used to end in a divorce, in India. That was back then. Recent findings show that divorce rates in India have been rising alarmingly. In the capital city of India, Delhi, the divorce rates have literally doubled over the past five years. In one of the most hi-tech cities of India, like Chandigarh and Bangalore, the divorce rates have tripled in the last 3-4 years. These are pretty shocking statistics, given the fact that India used to be one of the most traditional countries with one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. This dangerous trend coincides with an increase of money in market and motorized vehicles on the roads.

According to Harman Sidhu, President of Arrive Safe, Chandigarh based NGO working in the area of safe mobility and access through better transportation policies and planning, “Indian urban lives are moving at a high RPM[1] rate because of the increase in personalized motor vehicle use for commuting”. Commuting distances have been increased three-fold by virtue of wrong transportation policies in the last few decades; the meager and inefficient public transport system has made walking and cycling in urban areas unsafe. This daily unsafe commute has generated high stress levels in the population.

Our visionless urban planners believe that the numbers of vehicles on the roads are an indicator of the degree of development with country. Flyovers and expressways are the buzz words within corridors of power today. More road crash fatalities, crime on roads and road rages in our daily lives are source of the symptoms of the high stress levels in our urban life.


Financial independence followed by temperamental and attitudinal problems are the key reasons for divorces[2]. The first investment after attaining financial independence in a family is the desire of ownership for a private motor vehicle. This is primarily because our urban planners and road engineers with their wrong planning and policies have added to the problem. This is a never ending loop; migrations of more and more people to the city followed by a never ending increase of personalized vehicles continue to this day. Even after constructing hi-tech expressways and flyovers, urban traffic is going to face complex problems because transport infrastructure has certain expansion limits and capacities. Transportation in urban cities in India are made more complex because we have heterogeneous traffic, mixed land use, unplanned traffic policies, and no holistic approach to public transport. Increased average trip length forces people to spend more time and money on roads and less with their families. This leads to high stress levels in urban life followed by temperamental issues which leads to disintegration of family life.

International Scenario[3]

Analyzing the international trends in personal relationships in highly motorized/high income developed counties it was found that 51% of women in America were living without their husbands. Four out of 10 marriages in UK end in divorce. Since a decade, divorce rates, while still fluctuating, have shown an upward trend in Australia. In China, the divorce rate is escalating at a rate of 21.2%. Although the overall divorce rate in china is still lower than in Europe or the US, but the long-term trend is tending upwards. 80% of marriages in Russia end up in divorce.

Our Indian Metro Scenario


New Delhi leads with the highest number of divorces in the country, with more than 8,000-9,000 cases every year. The number has almost doubled[5] of last four years, according to data compiled from various State courts and the Crime Records Bureau.

Registered private vehicles increased by almost 100% growth in comparison to base year vehicle population in 1999. The number of private registered vehicles increases from 197181 to 244040. The modal share of cars in this increase is in the order of 22 to 25%.


The registered vehicle population of Mumbai was 15.03 lakh as on March 2007; in 1999 it was 8 lakh this account an average increase of 82 thousand motorized vehicles per year.

Study conducted by Mr Ajay Kumar Singh & Dr. R K Sinha of International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai[6], revealed that there was 56% increase in the divorce rate till 2001 in Mumbai. Since 2002, the number of divorce petitions filed in the special family court in Mumbai was 20929. The situation in Thane is worse, where 23993 divorce petitions were filed during the same period. The figure is alarming as the total number of marriages that were registered in places taken together from 2002 to 2007 was 104287[7]. Jump of almost 50 per cent in the number of divorce cases filed over 2002.


According to Mr Vinay Borikar, principal judge at the family courts, Pune, “ During 2006, there were an average of 150 divorce cases a month but the number went up to approximately 240 cases a month during 2007 indicating an compounding increase of 160%.

In the old days Pune was a bicycle city. The registered motorized four wheelers for March 2006 were 179252; this year the registered motorized four wheeler vehicles increased to 211768 indicating an increase of 132%[9].


In 1997, 216 cases of divorce were filed by residents in the district courts in the 2005 the number touched 1000. This is almost a five fold increase. During the same period the motorized vehicle population increased from a total of 326,278 to 547,225 with an estimated growth of 100% per year.


The trends of the four Indian cities mentioned above, there is an unexpected degree of disintegration in the social structure of our cities. Personalized vehicle growth is proportionate to the divorce rate. International trends of highly motorized/high income developed nations show similar trends. All major transportation related infrastructure schemes are promoted in terms of travel time saving by the promoters, who increased the commuting distances in the first place by relocating while communities from the city to the suburbs.

We need to take stock of our urban structure holistically and plan not only for today but all our future generation’s tomorrow.


Divorce rate and Global Warming[11]

Already proven that divorce is bad for the environment and contributing a lot to global warming; as it leads to more households with fewer people and greater consumption of water and energy, says a study published in this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, United States.

In the U.S. in 2005, divorced households consumed an extra 73 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water. Thirty-eight million extra rooms required heating and lighting that same year, costing $6.9 billion in additional utility costs, plus a further $3.6 billion for water, and other costs such as land use.

The study concluded that a married household uses resources more efficiently than a divorced household because people watch the same television, share air conditioning and heat, and use the same refrigerator.

[1] Revolution Per Minutes

[2] Singh, Ajay Kumar Singh & Sinha (Dr) R K (2005) “Growing Incidence of Divorce in Indian Cities: A Study of Mumbai, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, India










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