Mera Bharat Mahaan!?

Last week, I was on a 2-day official tour to Delhi. On the day1, I participated in a conference and the day was largely uneventful. In the evening, I moved to a comfortable Hotel in Cannaught Place, had an early dinner and a good night’s sleep. On the following morning my day started with a good continental breakfast with a nice spread of Indian & International cuisine. I finished breakfast and got out of the Hotel looking for transport. Realizing that the place of my meeting was just 2kms away, I hopped into an auto-riksha. The driver was an old man from UP. Auto travel experience in Delhi is not bad at all for someone used to harassment by Chennai auto-drivers. Delhi auto guys are decent. Most of the time they switch on the meter and on the very few occasions that they don’t, they ask for a reasonable fare.

We left the Hotel and soon our vehicle stopped at a red signal. As we were waiting at the signal, the driver spat out on the clean road and the contents instantly painted the small area with ugly dark red spots.  As many would know, it is a common practice in India for drivers to chew Gutkha (which is Betelnut mixed with tobacco wrapped in betel leaves) and spit everywhere including at clean walls! Although I have seen this in all the Indian metros and become somewhat insensitive, this time I was determined to show a piece of my mind. I questioned him how he could spoil such a clean road, besides creating a hygiene risk to everyone. The auto driver seemed to be in a rebellious mood too. He replied: Saheb, aap ek din mere jaisa garmi me auto chalao, tab aap ko pata chalega. He maintained that chewing tobacco filled ‘paan’ would keep him active in spite of the heat and pollution in Delhi. The tobacco has the effect of a stimulant, he claimed, as if it is news to me. Not to be outdone, I mumbled something in my broken Hindi about the ill- effects of Paan. Predictably, I did not make much of an impression as I could not give a convincing response to his pointed remark partly due to the language barrier.

As we moved on to the next signal, we stopped again. Here, I was upset for another reason. A small boy of not more than 3 or4 years rushed to our vehicle carrying a bunch of stupid ball point pens and offering to sell for ten bucks. The boy looked puny & malnourished and I am sure he can’t see the value of his pens nor is he likely to understand why he is doing this in the first place. Obviously he was being used by his captors (in the form of parents) for running errands and bring in whatever little money he can. I exclaimed aloud to my driver how on earth such a small boy could be used like this. Unexpectedly, an unknown guy riding on a bike stopped by our vehicle and remarked:  ‘It is all due to his past karma that he is born to such parents’. That explanation seemed to satisfy and silence all three of us! We just prayed for the boy and moved on.

Finally I reached the Parliament Street where I had a meeting lined up in a Government office. I met a senior officer in charge of power (electricity) distribution in that area. After exchanging pleasantries, he said: Sir, the place where we are sitting is the most notorious place. This locality in Delhi has the highest number of ‘BADMASHIS’. As I smiled at his comment, he added for good measure: Within this 4 km radius, we have the highest corruption with the highest turnover of black money in India.’

Soon the Chief Vigilance Officer joined us and he was also equally vocal about corruption. He went on to give finer details of how a certain minister ( he, in fact, named him) would charge a crore of rupees per meeting. He, then, asked: Do you know what is the role of a vigilance officer and explained it himself:  ‘It is to make sure that the undeserving or inconvenient outsiders are kept out of the charmed circle of corruption’. The guy seemed to be in a frustrated mood as he gave nitty-gritty details of how contracts are given and how politicians & government servants share the spoils. I don’t like to go into all those sordid details but suffice it to say that corruption is deep-rooted and according to the Vigilance officer more than 99% of our ministers & bureaucrats are corrupt.

Although we all have heard several stories of corruption, the revelation by two senior Government officers, who are direct witnesses, is a shocker!

After the discourses on corruption, we managed to squeeze some time to complete the agenda  of our meeting.

On my return to Mumbai, I narrated my experiences to a friend of mine and asked him whether he still believed in the slogan: Mera bharat mahaan. My friend, who is a believer in astrology, said with a twinkle in his eye: This is not anybody’s fault. ‘Mera bharat’ has always been mahaan. The problem arose when we renamed bharat. The decline and rot started only after renaming bharat as India!

Published in: on April 13, 2013 at 10:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. yes, it is quite sad indeed that the fence (govt/politicians/pokuce) which is supposed to guard the fields (us people) is actually gouging us in these ways… I hardly see India improving until the end of time…

    As Loard Krishna said, “yada yada hi dharmasya….” hopefully he will come one day or give us the strength to somehow uproot this horror called politicians in India…

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