Friday, July 14, 2006

Resilience in the time of Rudeness

Words have specific meanings. Words like Spirit. Resilience. Coming from the mouths of those whose entire career is based on buying and selling of human votes and emotions, they almost sound like abuse.

For years together, its been a pattern. Grandiose plans are made to safeguard people. Committees with names and unpronouncable acronyms are established. The head of the committee, his prestige doesnt depend on what good work he does, but whether he has a car with a flashing light and a siren, and a police constable hanging on for dear life to the car. Meetings are held. No one talks of any expenditures less than several hundred crores. Lips are licked in anticipation of being designated a supplier of stuff to the office. Networks buzz overtime . Maharashtra asks. The centre reduces, or sometimes, even refuses.

We have heard for years that the police force needs to be augmented . They dont have money for it. Statues in the sea are more important. Statues in parks are even more important. They feel no shame withdrawing police from after-hours duty in the ladies compartment of trains, and putting them on security detail at railway stations, post the blast. Why the security detail could not be drawn from all those politicians who are granted X,Y and Z+ security (for their families as well), is not clear. What is clear is that families of these folks need complicated security, so they can drive and spend relaxing time at the various posh coffeeshops and restaurants and malls around town.

Why should a train carrying working women, returning home after a crushing day at the office, not looking forward to a two hour crowded commute, cutting vegetables in the train to save time, be given protection from predating males , who have traumatised and maimed so many women in an about to be empty comaprtment, in the recent past? These guardians of our law and order , prefer to morally police us. Energy is expended in banning bar dancers, slapping court cases on your political rivals, and basically forgetting the people who put you there in the first place.

The recent blasts in mumbai, proved all over again, that we dont really need a government in Maharashtra. When the crunch comes, the people of mumbai are absolutely capable of taking care of themselves, and whats more , others. Within an hour of the blast, the various injured were well on their way to hospitals , if not actually already admitted. The "aam janata" came out on to the highways and arterial roads to stop vehicles, and request them to take passengers in their cars, those folks that were stuck miles away from their houses due to the blasts. Entire building societies chipped in with blankets , food stuff and transport; the slumdwellers who may not know if they will have a house next week, ran out with bedsheets for transporting patients, and climbed into the train to extricate the casualties, using whatever little they had at hand. College students returning home, found out that they could help the police control the traffic and keep things a bit more organised.

And people who I cant classify (and wont classify) under any category but saviours, even stood out in the rain handing water bottles, tea, hot snacks , food packets and even simple accomodation , to those people returning home from work, standing for miles together , crushed in a bus, because their train was blown up, and others were stopped; and those unknown folks who stayed on at hospitals , contacting relatives, comforting the hurt till some family member turned up.

They did this in the recent floods, and now the blasts. And they will do it again, beacuse its ingrained. (Readers Digest , please note: one cannot learn this, like eg, saying thank you, wishing others, holding open doors . Some of the folks we are talking about , dont even have a door, forget holding it open. Some get all embarrased if you say thank you to them, and almost feel insulted. And i cant think of a more useless thing to do than say "Nice day, isnt it?", while hanging on to 5 square inches of an open door in a moving train, trying to avoid torrential rain, or a burning summer day. )

That is what one calls the spirit. Resilience is the ability to keep on showing this spirit, blast after blast, flood after flood, carnage after carnage, one inefficient shameless government after another.

Our so called elected representatives dont need to waste their time passing resolutions in the legislature, when they should actually be amidst the people who elected them , trying to make their lives a bit more tolerable. Announcing Rs 50,000 dole to those injured, and Rs 1 Lakh to those dead , is not the end of the responsibility. The government should ensure that money needed for special medicines for the blast patients is directly paid to the municipal and state hospitals. Relatives of patients shouldnt have to trudge in and out of hospital buying medicines written up by doctors. The Railways, also announce a monetary compensation. I can just see a bunch of unscrupulous ears perking up and hands being rubbed in glee by people who see a great source of income , on the side in all this, ensuring that papers move.

And there needs to be a rule that only the Prime Minsiter and /or Home minister can come and visit the scene of the catastrophe. Seeing a politician holding your hand, and mouthing inane nothings, has nothing to do in improving your vital signs like heart beat, blood pressure, etc. For them its a photo opportunity. A Khota opportunity , if you really want to know. And all those cars that swish into the hospital porch , supposedly as security detail for the politicians, simply end up splashing monsoon dirt on those waiting outside, not knowing if someone is dead or alive, and what direction their life will take from now on.

So those in power need to stop commenting on Mumbais spirit and resilience. It sounds like a convenient thing in the mouths of the parasitic, moneyvorous people in power. It almost sounds like abuse , from the mouths of those that know not what it really means.

Learn something from the one man, who despite being elected , has never been a politician , and despite being elected by a party, has never really belonged to it.

Dr Manmohan Singh, the PM. Three days after the blast, he and his wife paid a visit to the hospitals . One patient, with one leg and one arm fractured , sat up to salute him. Those with visceral burn injuries tried to give a hint of a smile , so pleased they were to see him. Patients couldnt stop talking about the empathy that radiated from the man and his good wife as they made their rounds, quietly reassuring people, strong and firm. Then he got on television and sent a no nonsense message acrross the border, with no sparing of words.

Governing in Maharashtra is all about squabbling and power, and talking rot. And , of course , making money . These guys dont deserve an electorate like the people of Mumbai.

Mumbai has the SPIRIT and RESILIENCE despite them.

It will continue to have it, irrespective of blasts, floods, carnages, and moneyvorous politicians.

And never mind those guys who declared us the rudest people on earth.

(Maybe they simply looked at our politicians. Eat you words, Readers digest. ).


  1. I came across this article from a friend's referral. Very well-written post indeed. In my view, Mumbai's famed resilience has become the cover for politicians of all hue to hide their own glaring shortcomings. Mumbai surely will recover from this crisis soon enough, but just as surely a new crisis is waiting around the corner.

  2. Its amazing (maybe, on second thoughts, not so amazing), that on the day I blogged this, there were at least two columnists in leading papers who wrote about this 'resilience and spirit' thing being misused by politicians....thank you for your comments.

  3. Reading your post, i cannot but admire the resilience of a mumbaiker...they have survived many such colossal disasters. But, i cannot also help and wonder that why doesnt the resilient mumbaiker, instead of once again getting ready for the next tragedy to strike, exercise the same resilience in voicing protests and taking affirmative actions against the ruling power which just chose to utter sweet nothings?

  4. Well written & should be eye opener only if politians read !