Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Great Indian (Realty) Bazaar

Illustration: Great stone sculptures at Easter Island

The Great Indian (Realty) Bazaar
By Remigius de Souza

ON THE EVE OF REPUBLIC DAY –2008, the Great Indian (Realty) Bazaar is a reality taking shape in various ways. Bravo! A few decades ago, India was eyed by the prosperous western countries as a ‘great untapped market’. The First world India has made it accessible. See the rising (dropping at a sneeze by the great economies in the West) Sensex in Mumbai, the financial capital of India!

KIDNEY TRANSPLANT RACKET by the doctors busted in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, was flashed by TV media; along with the President’s address (I was not interested to hear her). It is reported that about 500 kidneys of some poor labourers/unemployed were bought at Rs 50-80 thousand and were sold at Rs 10-15 lakhs to foreigners (and Indians). There are several different atrocities which also now come to light.

BHARAT RATNA AWARD, for which some political parties fielded their leaders for its claim. The highest award thus became a commodity for the high profile. Of course, the Time or the Future would be the better judge of their credibility.

The irony is, we address sadhus–fakirs –sanyasis–Sufis–Bavals–saints as ‘swami’ – Master; they are not only on our tongues but also in our hearts, while kings, emperors, sultans, warmongers, money mongers, plunderers/squanderers of the land’s resources, either coming from foreign countries or at home, may find place in the history (text) books.

We have heard a story of beloved saint-poet Tukaram. Poor though he was in material possessions, he promptly returns the gifts that king Shivaji sent to help him. Like many others such as, Lalla, Meera, Janabai, Kabir, Chaitanya, Raidas, Jnaneshwar…, he doesn’t need media promotion or the State pension.

INDIA PREMIER LEAGUE materialised after hectic multimillion dollar bids, fashioned after soccer – football – basketball leagues of foreign countries. The cricketers, like horses, will run, be replaced, be rested, be shunted, come and go. The great Indian Cricket Realty show must go on, even if our children may not have playgrounds or afford to play or have one-time meal. We are indeed great patriotic people.

SINGUR: NANO PRINT – FAT WAD. ‘Tatas to pay Rs 1k cr for Singur land’ in a phased manner for lease of 90 years, to West Bengal Industries Development Corporation (8cm x 4 cm size news, Times of India, Mumbai ed., 23 August 2007, p. 21). I am ignorant of how this money shall be disbursed. What fraction will the peasant receive, once the money is in the hands of the agency? How much money shall be sucked by the administration in its pipeline?

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) materialised in knee-jerk action to quick-fix economic development. No second thought was given to rehabilitation of the peasants, not even a thought to the fertile agricultural lands. No field work. No environmental (social-political-natural environment) assessment.

Industries shall come, go defunct in time as usual, or change hands / products. But the living soil and the wild life which are important parts of ecology will be killed perhaps forever when, sooner or later, the industries are abandoned. It may take decades/centuries to restore.

Remember the great prosperous metropolis, Angkor, that collapsed by its own strength and overtaken by the forest! Remember the Easter Island that turned into desert by a civilised society! India, too, turning land into desert, soil and waters toxic. For radiation, wait until the Nuke deal materialises. And finally the annihilation of her second class citizens. Thanks to the First World India for its craze of development by aping the West. Remove the departmental blinkers that would open up ‘holistic vision’.

LEAD INDIA, a realty show, initiated by Times of India, is coming to close. Leadership is a buzzword in circulation; a frantic effort by the industrial society to hold powers over the masses which is slipping from their grip as democracy is taking deeper roots. Lead India episodes reminded us of the story of “Elephant and seven blind men”. Here, six men and one woman relishing their ego flights, along with the sponsors and judges, in the contest to chose ‘Mahanayak’ – great leader, as one after another are eliminated. What is India? Is it a palm-size map? Perhaps you could read better your fate-lines. Only Akshay Kumar, a film hero commented, “we need only leaders, no followers”.

MISSION USTAD, another realty show, to promote “End Poverty by 2015”, a slogan by the UN. It reminds us another slogan: “Garibi Hatao” – Eliminate Poverty – by the late PM Indira Gandhi; people on the street aptly converted to “Garib Hatao” – Eliminate the Poor. People are not fools. Like Bollywood/ Indipop songs, those by the Ustad – maestro – also shall come and go. Could anyone take the place of Meera, Kabir, Tukaram…? Safdar Hashmi, who sang on the streets, was murdered in broad daylight, in our times. Who is ready to face that fate? No. Not me, never, being a first class hypocrite, even though I write poetry.
Remigius de Souza

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

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