My roof has been leaking courtesy the unprecedented rains and I mean really leaking as we had to place buckets and pots in strategic places. This morning as the rains stopped I got the mason in hoping to get it all fixed. To my surprise he told me that he would get the work done with extra workers as after the 1st no construction would be allowed in our city till the end of the Games. And as there would be no work most workers were going back to their villages. Good grief! Here was a smart way of getting ride of the poor aka as eyesores, party poopers or those who spoil the image of the city. The rumour is that train rides to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are free!
A lot is being written about the corruption, the soiled toilets, the missing athletes and more. Every self respecting Indian is outraged at the humiliation that has befallen the country for no fault of ours. But what about the human factor. Did you know that people are being pushed out of the city to accommodate the few thousands that are going to grace it for two short weeks. And I am not even mentioning the hundreds of thousands who have lost their homes and livelihood.
Shankar comes from a village in Bihar. He had to leave because his home because his meagre possessions were washed away in the floods that ravaged his village. He came to the big city hoping to survive and maybe give a better morrow to his family. He became what I call a small entrepreneur and set up a small samosa stall. Every morning before dawn he would go to the wholesale market and purchase what he needed and then by come home and prepare the vegetable filling, roll the dough and make his samosas. He would then go to the street corner and set his stall. By 10 am hot samosas fried in front of you were ready to relish. The earnings of the day were used to feed his family and purchase the next day’s needs. Business was good and there were even some savings. His children were all in school and life was good.
Yesterday Shankar’s stall was destroyed and he was manhandled by the cops who informed him that he was not to set up shop till the end of the Games and it would be best for him to pack up and go to the village. And that is what he will do as with no work he would not be able to feed his family. This is the plight of many small entrepreneurs, daily wage workers who are all being forced to leave the city. Many of our parents who have vegetable carts are doing the same as the powers that be have decided to close the wholesale markets all together! Only multinational outlets will be selling vegetables during the games. Is this a taste of what is to come?
This is outrageous. In a country of over a billion people one has to allow tiny entreprises as that is the only way people will be able to survive. All this is frightening to say the least. These free and forced train rides spell doom.
The mood is upbeat. Even the television channels that were till yesterday decrying the Games are now urging us to support them. The late intervention of the Prime Minister (where was he all these days) and the cosmetic alterations to the Games administration seem to have turned things around. But not for me. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that everyone’s pocket’s are full and loot well stashed away in outside havens. Come to think of it the dirty toilets and walls were to say the least timely as they made us all forget the corruption and loot. National pride was hurt and something had to be done. Now it seems that the success of the games is what every self respecting Indian wants.
But why is no one thinking of the 40 labourers that got injured last week, of the ones who last their lives, of the people rendered homeless, of the loss of livelihood, of those who today sit on a train to nowhere: in a word of the human factor! What is paining me is that no one is really concerned or should I say conscious of this terrible human tragedy.