The president of a grama panchayat in Thrissur sets an example on World Car-Free Day. In fact, he champions the cause every day.

On Saturday, World Car-Free Day, K.V. Jose, president of the Pananchery grama panchayat, cycled to work. Not unusual for him. The 50-year-old man does it every day. For more than two decades, people of Pananchery have seen him as a political activist who leads a simple life. As a committed worker of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M], Karshaka Thozhilali Union, and the Construction Workers’ Union, he cycles to every nook and cranny of 23 wards for his work. World Car-Free Day encourages motorists to give up their car for a day – for environment, economic, and health reasons. It asks people to look for alternatives to car dependency. Every day is a car-free day for Mr. Jose. It is a conscious decision he took years ago. For most people, a car is a luxury choice, a style statement, and an assertion of power.

“When I do not use the bicycle, I use public transport. I cycle to office and use a panchayat-owned van if I need to go around for official work. It is an open secret that many politicians and functionaries use official vehicles for personal needs. I do not,” he says.

When he is not engaged in activities of the panchayat, he is a newspaper agent. He gets up every day at 4 a.m. and cycles to the Kannara junction to pick up newspaper bundles.

He cycles around 20 km and delivers the copies. Work as president begins at 8.30 a.m. Villagers say that Mr. Jose has never hankered for wealth. He has given up a lot for his commitment to activism. Wedded to politics, he did not bother to tie the knot, villagers say.

Many of those who occupy positions of authority and influence may strain to cope with the changes in life when their term ends. It will not be so for Mr. Jose. He is a humble cyclist. And avers he will ever be.

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