A Most Enlightening Talk

It’s strange how  writing the UPSC ( Civil Service Exams in India)  makes one feel  suddenly interested in all the affairs and goings on in the country. Or at least I was  for that period of time.  I didn’t write the paper for myself, rather I was the scribe for an intelligent , visually challenged M Phil (VCP) student who shocked me out of hitherto complaint and lazy attitude and opinions about Mumbai and Politics.



Now, I would call myself a hard-core Mumbaite. Who wouldn’t be passionate about their city of birth really. And though at times I may complain about the heat and traffic , I am quite in love with the charm of it. So, when a Delhite dares threaten and mock Mumbai, sparks were sure to fly. I admit I have a deep prejudice and indifference to the capital city of Delhi. (Most Mumbaites do as well, surprisingly 😛) A trip to that city 5 years ago sealed the disdain I have for it. And so, I tried explaining why I didn’t like it. How I disliked the food I had eaten, the place I had stayed and quite well childish experienced  reasons. So, I was taken aback at how vehemently VCP answered back. (Well, I was dissing his city.)

He insisted Delhi was better. (Ha, really?) And then talked about the progress Delhi was making. How I would not recognise Delhi if I see it now. And if I go there 2 years hence, it would be even more different.

“Mumbai is good. But nothing can change here. The Maharashtrian leaders and politicians are far too apathetic. It’s indeed a sad case that a state as fine as Maharashtra and a city as great as Mumbai is just not bothered about things as states like Punjab and Haryana move forward. The FDI is making the company open up. And most companies are overlooking Maharashtra for the states of Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana. Did you know Haryana  is the leader producer of automobiles in India or that Gujarat contributes to 22% alone to the industry growth in the country. With places like Noida, Gurgaon , Panipat developing and the infrastructure booming there, who will look at Maharashtra”

(Excuse Me.. All I said , was that I don’t like Delhi and my personal experiences were bad, I don’t really care how nicely that place is developing..) .

“Well, you should. You can’t talk bad about a place just because of your limited experience.. And, when you are discussing, you have to look at all points. Mumbai is the Service Capital in India. And everyone wants their hand in the pie here, but there is no real manufacturing scope. There are a number of new Mumbais coming up. See Indore or Bhopal. Very soon, Mumbai will go in a rut and sort of get stuck.”

(Now, while Mumbai may not have the space as Delhi or “manufacturing ” scope as you call it, it will never be unimportant. There may be developments in new cities, and they may be as developed as Mumbai; but honestly, they won’t be Mumbai. The zeal of the Mumbaikar’; the presence on the sea coast. The fact that it is the SERVICE CAPITAL – all make it the very reasons why it will survive all. I mean, look at Sydney or Manchester or New York – they may not be capital cities – but the very fact that they are port cities or that they are places where services flourish, makes them so important.)

“Hmmm.. Moving on what about Corruption!”

(What about it? It happens everywhere doesn’t it? What does Maharashtra have to do with this now!”)

“Well, if you compare Corruption now to 20 years ago. The corruption then was from the common man to a bureaucrat to get his work done. Now, its collusive. Everyone is involved. So you don’t know who’s accountable at all. If a road has to be built, right from the contractor to the engineer , they will be corruption taking place. And when in 10 years time, due to substandard materials used, everyone will just pass the blame. It’s so important for people to be accountable . And there should be a penalty for every project which lasts for 10 years or so, so that no one can get away with anything. Secondly, e-governance is the key. When the Indian railways went completely computerised, bribes stopped at once. There was no longer scope to pay the ticket collector to get the train berths. In Karnataka, all the records of the land owned by people are on the computer. The growing regionalism in Maharashtra is a huge cause of concern. Nationalism is great. But when you throw chavunism and pig headedness in the mix (like the Shiv Sena) that’s when it goes all wrong. And honestly, the average Maharashtrian is apathetic. They just go with the flow. And that’s sad.”

With that, VCP smiles and we settle for an amicable silence.

You know, I can’t help but agree with his parting sentence. Corruption is rampant and the Lok Pal may help solving some problems. but what we need is a more long-time, practive effort. And as much as I love Mumbai, I agree that we are a lazy lot ; but things shall change. And they will for the better .

I don’t know why I had to write down my long rant here or rather VCP’s. But , it did strike a chord within me. A plea to not be so apathetic and careless about things around me. A plea to take my future seriously and figure out life. I can no longer just float on the waves anymore. I need to find my way back to shore. 


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