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27 January 2008

Just another -Republic- day

I was asked why I did not do a republic day post. The reason was quite simple- because I was weeping.

Now see, I am just an average female living in this city. Harried by the traffic, water and maid servant and pre-occupied with mundane issues of loans, credit cards and bill payments and safety on roads. With a bad hair day and some shopping joys thrown in. Grateful that I do not have any significant concerns on other fronts.

So I did not cry because there are still so many people below poverty line, or because so many people in the country do not have access to drinking water and primary health care. Or because the money meant for development goes to fund ministers land purchases, foreign junkets and their children’s ostentious weddings.

I also did not cry because the film stars who spout so much Swades and Mera Bharat Mahaan stuff in their films do not find even a single Indian car worth driving. Though all of them quote typically a Maruti 800 as their first car, the hummers, and BMWs are certainly not their last.

And far from crying, I should have been exultant. After all it was the first time since independence that a Woman President took the parade salute. Wonder why then I felt so hollow.

Then what. Well, I could not help it. I wept for this woman who lay on the suburban train tracks for hours, her body cut in three pieces and finally had to be carted off in a hand cart, because the railway authorities did not call an ambulance. Neither they have one nor do they allow good work to be done. Harvard School case study notwithstanding.

I cried when I read that T. Chandrasekhar, an IAS officer finally decided it was time to move on to private sector. Just imagine, he did not even ask for the job. We brought him to Mumbai, and then refused to let a good man do his work. The person who turned around Surat (not Surat- that was S R Rao) , but Nagpur and Thane, could not turn a page of file here in Mumbai without ‘permission’ or, as Abhishek Bachhan in the movie ‘Guru’ asks of the enquiry tribunal members, 'May I stand up? Or do I need a license for this too? '

I cried because the old and senior citizens on S V Road, take an auto-rickshaw and pay the minimum fare just to get to the other side because crossing the road is impossible.

I cried because it really hurt that my hard earned salary from which 33% (and more) is deducted as tax, pays for the Governors personal trips and for the Municipal Commissioner of the city to be in Davos. The place also known as the ski resort.

So I get neither the road, the pavement nor the drain that the tax should have paid for. I neither get the diamond ring or holiday that avoiding the tax would have paid for, but the elected representatives get their designer clothes and free holidays.

I wish my parents had not insisted we get good grades and an education. After all, how important is education to be a minister or a religious/spiritual leader - both such lucrative career options in this country.

Hence you see I cried only at a few headlines as reported in the paper-not because any trees in my complex were cut . Or on account of any glorified idealist stuff, like why the license and quota raj for almost 50 years killed entrepreneurship in this country and crony capitalism damaged the rest. Or that expensive funded advanced education led to only brain drain with the best of scientists and engineers and doctors leaving the country. And for a development story that has been so flawed.

By the time I finished weeping, I had a headache with the crying. splashed some cold water on my eyes and face and had a cuppa tea, the dial up wasn't working. So I could not blog my 'Vande Mataram' post. (maybe I will save it for Aug 15th). How much worse can a day get. My eyes and nose were red and puffy.

As I think back now, I wonder why I cried so much. After all it was just another day. Like any other. And all I got was, " Buying the paper is useless- why read the nonsense they print.' Ah yes indeed.

Hope you all had a Happy Republic Day. With white and saffron and green outfits and matching bangles and fab-in kurtas (no one buys kvic anymore, didn't you know?) ; the swaying singing on television to 'cottage emporium' patriotism. And the lunch-dinner get-togethers and housie games in your buildings.

I had planned my outfit and accessories too, but that was before I read the morning newspaper. Then I cried. I guess this is where I came in.

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