India is the second largest country in the world in terms of population and years of pent-up demand have made it one of the world's fastest-growing car markets.
India's Tata motor company wants all Indians to own a car if they want to, so they have created a new landmark car, the Nano, which costs only $2,500 U.S. dollars.
But city planners worry that new cheap cars (the number is expected to double by 2016) will worsen traffic problems on roads that were created for carts and people, not vehicles.
And the increased number of cars will raise the India and China's oil consumption to 45 percent of the total world supply by 2025. Environmentalists warn of a global warming catastrophe if the country does not deal with the issue and focus on alternatives such as metro and bus systems.
"What does a car epitomize? Get in, switch on, and you're free to go wherever you want." -Prahalad Kakar, film director
"There's a global mindset which believes that cars are part of the manufacturing success story of any country. There's also a global mindset, which believes that cars are a sign of progress, and that's the message we derive from countries like the United States."- Sunita Narain, Environmental Activist
"America, Europe, Japan have had millions of cars for dozens of years. Now it's our turn, it would be a typical attitude."- Murad Ali Baig, journalist
1. Where is India? Can you name any reason why India is important to global trade?
2. What does a new car cost in the United States? Do most people you know own new cars?
3. What would happen if the billions of people in developing countries such as India suddenly had cars, air conditioning and other conveniences that are common in the United States?
1. Many poor people in India will now finally be able to afford a car, do you think this is a good thing? Why or why not?
2. Should people from other countries get to tell India or China that they cannot have as many cars? Should people in the United States have to give up their cars?
3. What can be done to limit the environmental impact of the increased availability of cars?
4. Do you have public transportation where you live? Who pays for that? Who rides it?
5. If you were a mayor or a governor would you invest in roads for cars or mass transit? Why? What are some political pressures that might push you to invest in roads instead of trains?