Thursday, 8 November 2007

Delhi Traffic and Other Matters

What yesterday’s traffic jams in the capital proved was that Delhi urgently needs a public transport system that can support massive numbers. Diwali is, in any case, a time when everyone goes out to shop. Yesterday being Dhanteras, people were out shopping for something valuable as a symbol of Lakshmi. Since we don’t have a public transport system worth the name--the Metro is operational only on two lines, Blueline buses are better known for knocking down pedestrians on the pavement and the DTC is yet to get enough new buses--the streets were full of cars, scooters, and three-wheelers. Many people slept through the jam, while others cursed. If we don’t do something to regulate Delhi traffic, the atmosphere in and around Delhi will soon be as bad as it was in the pre-CNG days. Respiratory ailments will increase. So the state government needs to wake up FAST to this problem.

Talking of Lakshmi, the two-year-old who underwent a 27-hour operation yesterday is doing well, according to her doctors. However, what was sickening to hear on yesterday’s television news was that the doctors had filmed the entire operation, without concealing the identity of the child. How can they disregard the child’s right to privacy? They can film the operation for educational purposes, but certainly not to advertise their skills.

The ministry of overseas Indian affairs has finally decided to proclaim India "a free market democracy". Thank heavens for that bit of honesty--we might as well follow free market principles, since we were proclaimed a "socialist" society during the Emergency. "Socialism" has, in any case, meant that the political and bureaucratic classes have profited at the expense of the people of India. Think about the license-permit raj or nationalisation of sick industries, neither of which really helped workers or industrialists. Or what about the nationalisation of banks, which hasn’t really helped the farmer escape the clutches of the local moneylender, who also doubles as the local political bigwig. Socialism, in the Indian context, is the biggest piece of political humbug, followed by communism. How many members of the CPI(M) have actually worked in factories or farms? Most of them are armchair revolutionaries, members of the middle class (Bhadralok in Bengali) who hang on with ferocity to the tenets of Marxism-Leninism, just as their forefathers hung on to the Manusmriti in the past.

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