Tag Archives: shera

Delhi 10

4 Oct
My memories of the city of Delhi were truly quite unpleasant until I visited the capital a couple of years back. The Delhi I want to cherish in my memories now is what I saw most recently. Broad roads, well marked lanes, traffic rules being followed most of the times by most of the people, public transport running on CNG and the amazing advent of the Metro rail. When my friend told me that the change that I was raving about was for the Commonwealth games that Delhi is going to host in 2010, how I wished that every other city in India should host the games every year, if that is the only incentive that can make all the difference.
We all want to have fond memories of the places that we visit and this is a fact that the government seems to realize pretty well. As I was skimming through the latest news, I got to read something about how the authorities in the capital have “removed” the “filth” in Delhi to deck the city up for the Commonwealth Games.  The “filth” being referred to here are the over 50,000 beggars and the “removal” mechanism is to shun them out of the city under the pretext of rehabilitation. I was greatly disillusioned of my previous assertion, or at least I questioned my self as to whether I really wanted such events to be hosted by every other Indian city.
So how does removing beggars from Delhi clean the city? The government believes that due to the magnum opus of the Commonwealth games, as foreigners would be arriving at Delhi, there is an inevitable need to ensure that they are not troubled by the beggars while they roam about in the city. The concern that is being displayed is typically for the Westerners. The argument sounds even more obnoxious when you hear someone saying that we Indians are used to seeing beggars around, but the Westerners are not. It is not only disheartening, but agitating to come across such insecurity that the government puts on public display. I fail to understand this fear of discovery of facts. The very fact that those who act all prim and proper underground while traveling in the Metro, spit out their paans when they are at the ground level supplements the irony of the situation.
In my opinion, whenever someone visits India for the first time, the immediate things that get noticed are the slums, the open drains, the crowd and the pollution. However fascinated a foreign vistor gets by the marvel of Taj Mahal or the spellbinding sculptures of Khajuraho or the expanse of the Himalayas or the devout milieu of Varanasi and Ajmer or the inescapable aroma of authentic Indian cuisines, the memories always remain etched in their minds are of the poverty and illiteracy that they witness first hand. And what holds true when an Indian visit’s a Western country for the first time is that he/she invariably notices the cleanliness around, the civic sense of responsibility and the law-abiding majority.
What reason do we have then to oppose Danny Boyle showing the life of a slum dweller in Mumbai through Slumdog Millionaire (which indeed has been misinterpreted as a rags-to-riches story. In my opinion, it is a fantastic love story!) in a very realistic way? Why should we be surprised when the only Indian films that have been recognized at the Oscars, Salaam Bombay and Pather Panchali, speak about the poverty in our country?
The bottom line is that we ought to accept these fallacies. We ought to agree to the fact that in sixty five years we have not been able to create an India of our dreams. So, do I mean to say that we should do nothing to eradicate poverty or illiteracy? Certainly not! We ought to make this country a better place to live in. But, the motivation should not be the arrival of foreigners. We should feel the need to make the change for ourselves, for every single citizen of India, for the reason that every Indian does have a right to live freely and happily in this country.
There is a need to make improvements at the grass root level to present India to the world in a pleasant way. As Shera sets in to welcome the firang athletes, the government proclaims to present Delhi as a truly international city. And that is by not eradicating poverty, but by hiding it. We need a catharsis of our hearts and minds to eradicate the filth of our thoughts and our skewed perceptions!
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