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A poor strategy

india Updated: Sep 28, 2010 23:40 IST
Samrat
Samrat
Hindustan Times
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It’s a new twist to Garibi Hatao. The poor are being driven out of Delhi by a robust stick and stick policy. Poor people don’t look and smell nice and tend to clutter the sidewalks of the capital city of our country, which as we all know is an emerging economic power. It little becomes our status to have those folks ruin the view for our reluctant foreign guests. What I haven’t quite figured is what law is being cited to pressure these people to ship out for the duration of the Commonwealth Games. Is there a law against people who can’t afford deodorants being allowed to live in New Delhi?

The biggest stink surrounding these games, of course, has been about the runaway corruption. Then there was the stink about the filthy Games village. The stench of poverty should have been more tolerable, really. Most of it would be the smell of honest sweat.

About 90 per cent of this country’s labour force works in the unorganised sector. Those are the people who make chai at roadside stalls, the food at dhabas. They sell cigarettes and paan, they work as maids, cooks, cleaners and dhobis. In short, they work hard, for little money, to earn an honest living. In the process, they also make our spoilt lives a lot easier.

Those are things that can’t be said for any of the folks who’ve managed to push up the cost of these Games to R65,000 crore, give or take a few hundred crore. They have been responsible for the embarrassment the country has suffered so far, with the world laughing at us for our collapsing bridges and ceilings, to say nothing of our $90 rolls of toilet paper and our “low hygiene standards”.

As the people who’ve contributed most to the stink over the Games, it would, therefore, be more appropriate if those people were driven out of Delhi. Unfortunately, of course, no such thing will happen. The rich and powerful will remain here, and perhaps get to keep their ill-gotten millions as well. The poor will get chased out, possibly on charges of encroaching on public property or obstructing traffic. Those are the usual charges deployed against hawkers and vendors.

The biggest encroachment of public property in Delhi is the cars parked on the sides of roads. This is rampant, it is everywhere, and it takes up a whole sight more space than the paanwallahs and chaiwallahs. In many places, including posh neighborhoods like Greater Kailash II, it is barely possible to find a way through all the parked cars that choke up public roads. It would be wonderful if the government found the gumption to actually throw all the encroaching cars of the rich out of this fair city.

Unfortunately, of course, no such thing will happen.