Out of habit, I peered out of the window though I knew what to expect. The plane was making a landing approach at Santa Cruz Domestic Terminal at Mumbai. I turned away my head seeing the blisters of slums sprouted everywhere. The visual pollution to the aerial view of Mumbai is very offensive to the eye.
It’s easy to turn away my head than to turn off the thoughts that rankled my mind. It’s Independence Day eve; the irony’s political liberty did not translate into economic freedom for nearly half the population. Whether it’s half, more or less is a matter of numerical quibbling. That there is reeking poverty everywhere in India does not need proof.
Is it necessary to have this poverty showcased to the world, when visitors arrive at the gateway of the Indian financial capital? Mumbai takes the cake for hosting, some of the most oppressive sights of poverty than those in any urban landscape across the world.
I guess Buddha would have left the palace and attained his Nirvana long time before he actually did, if he were born in present day Mumbai.
This view of visual poverty kindles creative expression to directors of silver screen blockbusters. Visiting Princes, Dukes and foreigners go on sightseeing tour to Dharavi. The title of the second Oscar winning Movie on India theme moved away from Gandhi to Dogs living in slums. The problem was the celebrated director was not referring to canine creatures but humans loosely equated to the condition of street dogs. The title “slum dog” was more marketable than other labels that could suit victims of financial misery. What should we call those who live in high rises ( including me) – fat cats?
Discounting this feline and canine demarcation, is there a link between the obscene growth of high rises and the oppressive spread of slums in Mumbai? Can Amrtya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati resolve their disputes, without taking swipes at each other like Naidu and KCR? Why people who learn the same language read things differently? In both Politics and Economics, sound many times, overtakes substance.
The question is how Prosperity can grow without Poverty? Wealth and social justice – can they co-exist?
It needs no Noble Prize to realize that the “trickledown theory” of growth helping social justice, ignores the velocity of flow of benefits to the needy. It assumes that drops of deliverance to the poor are alright while fountains of undeserving fortunes to a few must continue to keep the Nation growing.
Arvind Kejriwal may have a point that’s it’s the leakages that caused the flow to reduce into a trickle but his broomstick magic did not work beyond a few days because he’s not from Hogwarts School.
He studied in Indian Institute of Technology, but he did not notice, technology and digital governance
could reduce corruption dramatically and improve probity in public office; good politics drive good economics to push prosperity down to the door step of all; If the politicians care, those who work in Mumbai need not live in slums, watched nonchalantly by its citizenry, while flying, driving, walking or just looking out of the window.