With the smog engulfing the city and people choking on unhealthy amounts of harmful gases, the national capital has been looking like a place straight out of a dystopian future. 

We haven't seen the sun in a while and even two minutes of exposure to the outside air leaves our throats dry and eyes, itchy. 

Girls walking in polluted Delhi
Source: Vox

So staying inside is the best we can do to save ourselves from cutting years from our lives. It is important, here, to realise that we have the privilege of staying inside.

From traffic policemen to delivery boys, there are thousands of people in the city who have to stay outdoors due to the nature of their jobs and we need to spare a moment to think about them.

Traffic policemen struggling with pollution
Source: Hindustan Times

While we rush to our houses in the metro and cars, making Instagram stories and posting statuses, these people have no option but to stand in the middle of the chaos.

I am not saying it is easy for us, I am just saying it is much more difficult for them.

Delivery boy in Delhi
Source: Livemint

Yes, most of them have masks, but there is no mask that can block the harmful gases from entering their system for 12 hours.

These people are paying too big a price to keep the city in order and that is just unfortunate.

Delhi Policemen most susceptible to pollution
Source: China Daily

Now here, we haven't even touched upon people who have absolutely no access to masks even. 

This includes construction workers and the people who live on the streets.

A construction worker in Delhi
Source: Guardian

The ones who survive on daily wages, the ones who beg on the traffic lights, the ones who sell flowers and balloons. 

They have literally no protection and God only knows what kind of diseases they catch because of the pollution.

Homeless person in polluted Delhi
Source: Hindustan Times

Currently, there is no definite way of knowing how exactly pollution affects these people and if it leads to any life-threatening diseases.

However, if you have inhaled outside air for even two minutes, you know things won't look very bright if a research is done on the topic. 

Homeless person in polluted Delhi
Source: Hindustan Times

The worst part is, they have played no part in all of this. Diwali was just another day for them and they were not the ones who burst crackers. It was people like us.

A few years ago when the smog situation became bad for the first time, my house help told me she was amazed winters had become so intense, so soon. She thought it was fog.

A woman walking in polluted Delhi
Source: Scroll

These people are paying the price of our recklessness. So are the animals, who can't even express themselves and if that doesn't break your hearts, I don't know what will!

A dog outside in polluted Delhi
Source: Indian Express

Recently, a news report said that 38 people were arrested for flouting the anti-construction rule.

This means that a lot of people are paying no heed to the Supreme Court judgments. They are not the ones at direct risk, though. It's the people who will take any opportunity to earn money and because they don't have enough to eat.

A screenshot on construction ban in Noida
Source: India Today

Another article said 200 teams of traffic policemen have been deployed to make sure the odd-even scheme is implemented well. 

While the scheme will hopefully help the city in the long run, these officers are putting themselves at risk to help us and the government. As reported by NDTV last year, they are the people most vulnerable to air pollution.

Traffic policemen in delhi
Source: India TV

All of this to say that we need to act fast, not just for ourselves, but also for people who can't just leave the city or change jobs or decide to stay at home. 

We have to do it for all of us because right now there are people whose future looks as bleak as the Delhi skies and that is just unacceptable.