Saturday, 1 May 2010

The gravediggers ... Mumbai ravaged

There was a slightly old Economic Times lying around in our bedroom. I glanced upon what was written on it as I was tidying up. The article was about Gollman Sach's take on the BRIC countries. 'I' standing for India. And how these would dominate the word even faster than earlier predicted.

Those of us who work in multinational companies would have possibly come across the spiel about how India is the future and how everyone's excited about the 'India story'. You would have heard the same people going gaga about the service in Jet Airways when they come here. And you are probably reading this post on a state of the art laptop or phone. The latest the world has to offer.

But a look out of the window of your home, office or car shows a very different world outside. And I am not even talking about the in your face poverty. Poverty we have learnt to blank ourselves to. Poverty which bothers us only when an Irishman refers to it while winning making an Oscar winning film.

I am talking of the traffic which gets worse by the day. The sheer lack of civic planning. Monstrous, ungainly flyovers coming up. Walkways which noone will use. Roads being dug for the Metro. And pilars being put up for the monorail. Yes, we are a city in a hurry. But does it all have to be at the same time?

The dust, destruction, construction and desolation gives you the feeling of a war ravaged city. Not that of a city which is the commercial capital of the 'future'. One look at any Asian city, I am not even talking of those of the developed West, and one realises the need for a reality check.

The simplest and most recent example of this insensitivity and lack of civic planning is the Bazar Road beside Balaji restaurant at Hill Road, Bandra. This is a narrow road which connects Bandra to the Sea Link. A road which many take to office in the morning.

Well if you go half way down the road these days you will find that it is closed. In which case you will have to turn back in this single laned road and the result is almost as chaotic as the Indian Parliament in session. Now I am sure that there is a good enough reason to shut the road. But why not put a sign warning people at the beginning of the lane? The simplest thing then would be to turn and take the Mehboob Studio exit.

But then, as T would say, 'where are the hardships'?

My teachers in school used to say that I was a day dreamer. That I would not pay attention to what was happening in class. That I would be lost in my own world. But I must admit that even I am not enough of a dreamer to see any hope amidst the rubble.

It's time to get real.

I know it's Maharashtra Day today. But before you say 'get back to where you belong' and all that stuff let me go on record saying that I am really fond of, and attached to the city. I would speak up for it any day. But I also know that most of us have been badly let down by those who matter. As Forrest Gump would say, that's all I have to say about that.


Scarlett said...

'A' & I were talking about the same thing this morning. We were wondering if we (India) will ever reach the stage of development that US/Europe have reached. And we realized we probably won't ever get where they are b/c of 3 reasons: 1) Our ever-growing population 2) We lack the civic sense & attitude that Americans/Europeans have & won't develop it as long as there are uneducated people in our country, and 3) The people who do the planning in this country are severly lacking in foresight & vision. So this "India is the future of the world" theory is complete hog wash.

Goli said...

I do agree with your observations, but the only thing that I would urge is that make an effort to change. Find out how you can put the board and ask people to take diversion.

I dont understand what we mean by development, US has been single handedly responsible for destroying lot of Earth environment, their population is small but they consume lot more resources of earth. Is this what you call development?
In most of India you can get Amul buttermilk for about 10 rupees, isnt this an amazing sign of efficiency. Wont you call this development.

The knife said...

@Scarlett: I haven't been to the US so can't comment. My understanding of the Far East is that they have made the cities quite different from the countryside. I share your sense of despondence. But at the same time I think of the swamps that Singapore and KL were and take some hope

@Goli, I was hoping that there would be someone who might read the blog and know about this. I can Tweet or update on FB.

As far as putting the board is concerned, surely that's not too much too expect the guys who are digging the road to do

Haddock said...

The sheer lack of civic planning is the reason I suppose.

Purba said...

India Shining is nothing but hogwash. True was have a Tata acquiring Crus, Mittal acquiring Arcelor or even an Mukesh Ambani featuring in the millionare's club but we also have farmer suicides, starvation deaths and appalling lack of foresight in most government policies.

Bentley, Harley Davidson are making a foray into the Indian market, yet we do not know whether we'll have drinkable water 20 years from now.

But it does feel good to read we might dominate the world economy someday.

Goli said...

I am really surprised when people say that there is lack of foresight in to the government policies.
I think NRHM, NREGA and RTI are some of the most very well thought of policies for development and people have started getting amazing results.
The situation in India is getting better and better. I just feel that being democratic in a land where language changes every 200 Km is an amazing achievement.

The knife said...

Hey guys great to see that I have sparked off a debate. That was always the idea.

Haddock, Purba... I agree that our delveopment has been uneven. Much faster in the areas of consumerism where corporate competition exists. Much slower on infrstructural growth

Goli, as you've pointed out, India is no Singapore and Dubai. There are huge dichotomies and barriers that exist within such a large country which are not easily overcome. A similar example is Turkey where Istanbul is quite different from the countryside

Nalini Hebbar said...

When I think of India's development I am reminded of the rugby game...they all fall on the player with the ball and the player is immobilized by this. Some times someone else runs away with the ball! I imagine India's every growing population sitting on a ball called 'Opportunity'.
We are in the process of tightening our economy and bureaucracy, to make it transparent...a painful process but in the right direction.
And I think as a country we are still in the acne sprouting age...ugly teenager, unruly and headstrong with lots of growing up pains and mistakes...give her time and in this modern world, she will surely blossom into a gorgeous lady!