Saturday, March 21, 2015

Anarchy, thy name is Indian towns and cities!

Most Indians never forgo an opportunity of proclaiming their rights but there are only a few who is wiling to concede citizens have also a duty to keep in mind their responsibility to the society and the nation at large. Our country is often branded as a "soft" state and harsh decisions are either postponed or never taken at all! One of the most visible symptoms of this syndrome is the ease with which all laws are broken with impunity because of the laxity of administration, be it the government agencies or the police personnel. Those who violate well laid down rules and regulations are sure in their mind that they get away with it either through some amnesty or by the limping judicial system which moves at an elephantine speed or by their influence on politicians and bureaucrats. Look at our own parliamentarians at Delhi and according to recent Lok Sabha secretariat report more than 300 MPs owe to the government millions of rupees for the power and water they had consumed without bothering to honor the repeated reminders from the authorities to pay up!. If the law makers can break the law they themselves make, how can one find fault with the ordinary citizen who also does the same with no respect for such laws? The provocation for such a drastic comment on our soft state syndrome is the strike by the business outlets in Kolkatta recently protesting against the rampant spread of street hawkers on the pavements of that city obstructing the pedestrians as well as blocking the road in many cases which is happening because of the political patronage received by them from the ruling party. Here is a take on this farce that is taking place in the name of "poor people" in almost all towns and cities in this country that will eventually convert them into a great open free for all bazaar places rather than helping to make them orderly and disciplined civic entities!    

"The legislation, now on the statue books, calls for states and urban local bodies to create town vending committees, with hawkers' representatives on them, which will register hawkers. Plus, and this is critical, there will be a street vending plan, to be revised every five years, which will demarcate public places into three categories: vending freely allowed, restricted and not allowed. Equally important, the law says vendors do not have permanent rights and can be relocated. At the heart of this urban chaos is the classical "soft state" which is the hallmark of underdeveloped societies ruled by either dictators or populist maverick politicians who neither know nor are willing to learn how to run a proper administration. Ms Banerjee left the imprint of her administrative abilities or the lack of them on the railways, which were set on the road to financial crisis every time she or her nominated partymen held the portfolio at the centre. For Kolkata's nearly 300,000 hawkers, their stalls are a way to keep destitution at bay for them and the 1.5 million people who are part of their families. But if there is no control on hawkers they will eventually clog not just pavements but roads too. Then nobody will be able to get to the hawkers by either public or private transport and the city will return to the pre-industrial age when people moved by only foot."

Same attitude also accounts for the mushrooming of hundreds of slums in big cities inhabited by migrants from rural areas and people who inhabit these slums no doubt lead a wretched life measured by any decent standards. The political class in this country is responsible for encouraging growth of big sized slums in cities like Mumbai and New Delhi because of the callousness and not foreseeing the problem faced by millions of honest citizens who pay all types of taxes levied by governments at the center, state and local levels aspiring for a decent quality life Can India take pride in the claim that world's biggest slum is in Mumbai going by the name "Dharavi" which is a cluttered township within the city with vast political and economic clout? Is this the democracy Indians have been aspiring for after independence? Vote bank politics, where politicians see each individual as a potential supporter to vote for him during election time, cannot be allowed to continue any more if we have to achieve economic power like China. If the ruling party in Kolkatta sees these street vendors as a sure vote bank and promise them protection, support and help, as being reported by the media, probably its calculation is that the 3 million families of these vendors would support them in the forthcoming elections with no qualms about the well being of and trauma caused to, honest citizens there by these law breaking group. One is tempted to pose a question whether this is what we have got after more than 7 decades of planning? Are we not staring at anarchy in the urban areas of the country with no law and order being maintained and ordinary citizens like children, women, senior people and other vulnerable groups forced to stay indoor for fear of violating their self respect and self esteem? Cries like these may be irrelevant in to day's India which is taken over by a section of the society with powerful connections, criminal tendencies, muscle power, scant regard for judiciary and no care for human values!  


No comments: