Citizens, rather Netizens, have declared February 14 as “No Petrol Day” in protest against the steep hike in the price of the commodity.
Or is it?
According to e-mail messages being circulated through the Internet and on Facebook, petrol in India costs much more as compared to Pakistan and Malaysia and aver that rising international crude price is not the cause for this.
While the cause may be genuine, this mail is definitely a spam which has taken a life of its own. It seems to have been circulated in various countries including the United States, Australia and South East Asia for years with suitable editing/alterations to give it a local flavour and bowing to sensitivities.
The badly drafted e-mail, was first circulated in 1999. However, similar “no petrol day” or “no gas day” did not get any real participation: neither did it have any effect on petrol prices.
This time however, it appears as if the e-mails are being taken seriously enough, after being inspired by mass protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan, where at least one dictator has been toppled and another one seems on the way out.
While this e-mail says February 14 has been formally declared “to stick it up their behind”, a similar e-mail circulated in the U.S., Australia and some south east Asian countries used the phrase “stick it up their ass”.
Also, the latest Indian version wrongly quotes R.K. Laxman’s Common Man to say: “We have to raise our voice, let’s raise thru e-mails”.
However, not many are buying the idea. A netizen, who refused to be identified, has this to say: “Not to disrespect anyone, but the “no fuel” for a day is bullshit. People are still going to use the same amount of fuel.
“They will either fill up the day before knowing that they shouldn’t fill up the next day or they will fill up the day after the proposed “no fuel” day.
“The only difference will be that the (oil companies) have two good days and one bad day as apposed to three steady days. If people don’t drive, thus not using fuel, then I could understand. Who here is willing to risk there job because they don’t drive to work? Not me. I don’t agree with what is happening with the prices of fuel but this “no fuel” thing is just crazy.”
Another netizen feels that the oil companies still stand to gain from this gimmick because people tend to buy more petrol on previous days than is really needed.
Replying to one such e-mail, netizen Gopal Nayak says, “Sorry… I will buy the petrol on that day… if I will not put the petrol in my car, I have to come office by walk… if we will not buy the petrol on that day whether petrol rate will come down?”
One thing, however, is sure: This protest is supposed to reduce petrol prices. The chain letter will achieve no such thing. For one, it has been circulating for years but petrol prices have more than doubled or even trebled during the period.
Experts say this idea is just as flawed because anyone who participates will fill up the day before or the day after. That’s not going to hurt anyone’s profit.
If you want to spend less on petrol, use less of it. Buy a smaller, lighter, more efficient car. Share rides. Use public transport, use a bicycle or walk where possible. Petrol prices follow the laws of supply and demand. If demand goes down relative to supply then so will prices, but filling up on a different day or at a different gas station will make no difference to market prices whatsoever, the experts say.