People commute through smog in New Delhi. Photo: Ramesh Sharma/India Today Group via Getty Images

According to a recent WHO analysis, Indian cities are now the most polluted in the world, accounting for 14 of the 20 cities with the worst air pollution. This is not shocking news: Indian cities, including the capital, New Delhi, make international news for their choking smog every winter.

Why it matters: Air pollution is one of the world's leading causes of death. Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) is linked with a wide range of health issues, especially heart and lung disease but also diabetes, hyperactivity and autism. Per Lancet, these health issues are on the rise in rapidly developing middle- and low-income countries, with the largest increases occurring in India and Bangladesh.

The Delhi government has put in place a number of short-term policy measures — including restricting driving to alternate days based on license plate numbers — to reduce traffic emissions when other factors such as low winds, garbage burning for heat and stubble burning on farms north of the city become a problem. Even though these measures reduce daily concentration, they have not had a lasting impact. And Delhi is just the tip of the iceberg: Smaller towns and cities such as Kanpur are even worse off.

What's next: Based on the available data, Indian scientists and policy advisors have made a number of recommendations, many of which have gone unheeded since the 1990s. If rich cities like Delhi can’t manage pollution, the prospect for poorer ones is dim. Perhaps Indian politicians need to take a page out of the Beijing playbook and learn how China's government has managed to dramatically improve air quality through a combination of tough industrial and traffic control measures.

Tanvi Nagpal is acting director of the International Development Program and practitioner in residence at Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Go deeper

Filing suggests Manhattan DA is investigating Trump for possible fraud

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP

The Manhattan District Attorney's office suggested for the first time Monday that it's investigating President Trump and his company for "alleged bank and insurance fraud," the New York Times first reported.

The state of play: The disclosure was made in a filing in federal court that seeks to force accounting firm Mazars USA to comply with a subpoena for eight years of Trump's personal and corporate tax returns.

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 18,139,438 — Total deaths: 690,452 — Total recoveries — 10,751,618Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 4,682,461 — Total deaths: 154,965 — Total recoveries: 1,468,689 — Total tests: 56,812,162Map.
  3. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  4. Business: Virtual school is another setback for retail — The pandemic hasn't hampered health care.
  5. Public health: Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.

House Democrats subpoena top Pompeo aides in probe of IG firing

Mike Pompeo. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

The Democratic chairs of the House Oversight and House Foreign Affairs committees announced subpoenas Monday for four State Department officials as part of their investigation into the firing of former Inspector General Steve Linick.

Why it matters: The two committees, in addition to Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are investigating whether Linick was fired because he was probing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the State Department's attempts to bypass Congress to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.