‘A matter of survival’: India’s unstoppable need for air conditioners

(The Guardian, 5 Dec 2023) Access to sufficient cooling could further drive up the already rampant inequality in the country.

For Muskan, the arrival of summer in Delhi is the “beginning of hell”. As temperatures in her cramped, densely populated east Delhi neighbourhood often soar above 45C (113F), she dreams of only one thing: air conditioning.

During the day, in the tiny, windowless kitchen where she cooks for her family, she often feels like she will collapse from the heat and her health deteriorates. Nights are even more painful. Sleep becomes almost impossible in their single-room apartment.

Her three children, sticky and uncomfortable, cry out begging to be cooled down, and she wakes every five minutes to douse them and herself with cold water and wet scarves.

The single fan hanging from the flaking yellow ceiling does little to ease their woes and the putrid stench from the sewage and festering rubbish means opening a window is impossible. In any case, as she points out: “It’s usually even hotter outside.”

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The Guardian, 5 Dec 2023: ‘A matter of survival’: India’s unstoppable need for air conditioners