Saturday, September 25, 2010

A land of thieves ,beggars and snake charmers.

Cursing the Mumbai university I boarded the BEST bus from university campus and sat down on one of the seats. I did not notice an American girl sitting next to me. She politely asked me if i could speak english, to which i nodded. She had been having problems comprehending what a lady was asking her in hindi. I was very glad to help, more than the 'atithi devo bhava' thing, it was the cuteness factor of the girl which did me in. Not a man to miss chances I striked a conversation with her, asking her about her city and country and about her pupose of visit to India. She turned out to be an urban planner and surprisingly she had done extensive research on this country. Amused, I probed her further to check if she had the stereotypical image of India like every other westerner has. It turned out, she did have the 'slum image' of India, courtesy 'Shantaram' and "Slumdog Millionare". I started with the "Namastey London" dialouge. I proclaimed India has more people speaking english than the US and UK put together. I went on 30 mins and told her every postive thing about India which I could recollect. I told her to visit bangalore to see the real 'Intelligent' India. She seemed totally convinced with my arguments. She said this,as a departing note

"It seems I need to correct my friend who thinks of India as a land of thieves ,beggars and snake charmers".

 "You better do" I replied with a faint smile.

 I was patting my own back for a job well done. At least one American got her facts corrected due to my efforts.  But, was the correction correct? Aren't we actually a land of thieves and beggars? Some observations in past one year has put me in self-doubt. Whether what she thought of us was correct?

 Unlike New Delhi, road infrastructure is pathetic in Mumbai. To travel from Eastern suburbs to the Western suburbs is a big pain. When the actual distance on the map is just 4 kms, one has to take a detour of 10 kms to reach the same place. To solve this issue the state government in 2004 decided to make an elevated link road from one suburb to another. Such was the marvel of the plan, that it was featured in NatGeo's Megacity series. The deadline set for this was 2007.
 Current status-50% complete.
 Revised deadline-dec 2011
 Original cost of Project-Rs 100 cr
 Revised cost -Rs 300 cr

 The reason? The same old Indian problem, Slums. Relocation of slums for the project was stuck in the high court, until state govt. used one of the old laws to forcibily move them. Their demand? they wanted a 450 sq. feet home instead of the 300 sq feet home being provided to them. The ground reality is that these people are currently staying in less than 100 sq feet shanty. How ironic it is, when these people even dare to keep such demands.

  It is said , making a home in the city of Mumbai is a dream achieved by a lucky few, I say, it is achieved by those acting smartly.Modus operandi is very simple. To make a house in mumbai, all you need is an investment of Rs 10000 and lots of patience. Make a shanty on one of the govt land and wait till govt plans a project on that land. Now you are a citizen of the city and cannot be just thrown away for a 'petty' project. The govt promises to rehabilitate you to a "better place" to live in. If you are a bit ambitious and daring, you challange the govt and demand for a bigger place to live in. It won't make any difference to you because the govt will be using the tax payers money to move you to a "better place", so why not try your luck in bargain. Till the time you get a "better place" to live in , you easily use the open spaces for daily chores like washing and bathing among other things, the govt will take care of the cleaning from the tax payers money. You can also freely watch your favorite TV program , all you have to do is put a plug into the wire going to one of the "permanent home" nearby your acquired home and get the electicity for free of cost, so what if the poor tax payer is footing your bill without him knowing the good deed he is commiting.

One can be easily mistaken, if they think that people who are "poor" tarnish the image of this nation. When the CWG OC can purchase $89 toilet paper rolls and rent a treadmill at Rs 100000, all again from tax payers money, then it is grossly unfair to give all the credit of discrediting the tax payers to "poor" people alone. It is also heart warming to see that the CWG OC, politicians and the "poor" people have a lot of competition from the corporate world. When a certain famous contruction company supposedly quotes an escalated cost of Rs 1600 cr for a sea link made just at Rs 600 cr, it is unfair to leave them out.

 So this is the story of the great Indian stealing circus. I really hope, the girl whom I supposedly corrected, is not cursing me, seeing the state of the CWG and the IPL expose.

I think its time to coin a new statement for the social status of India

"The rich gets richer, the poor gets richer, and the middle class gets poorer"



Ayushi said...

very well written .....n specially the last line..!!

Arpz said...

gr8 job once again.and the will girl wont curse u but will try to meet you again as she has strong points to win over you in argument.

Rajiv said...

I was doing my MBA from pune when my laptop an IBM ThinkPad R-61 was stolen. I loved that laptop.
Till date it has not been recovered.
What is the use of Plice in the first place. and above all we have our laws which free a person after a few yrs so that he can continue his crimes and steal from us .
This can't happen in Saudi Arabia.
I was seated for a company presentation whose HQ was in Dubai and the presentr told that if a person commit theft his hands are chopped off.
I think this is the best solution. No hands no crime.
Atleast people like me who pay for their belonging by their hard earned money won't have to suffer.
no wonder millions have left this country and are leaving each year.
this country has no's going to dogs


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