Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Look who's talking...

There is an ongoing discussion on the Indian Railways Mailing List in which members are presenting views on load on cities' infrastructure by the growing number of immigrants from the country side - or to be more specific growing number of immigrants from UP/Bihar. Members are opposing introduction of new trains from these parts to Mumbai as it might encourage further influx.

I'm just wondering why poor UP / Bihar guys are singled out? Why is it that in most cities they are the ones blamed for most of the problems. I am not from Mumbai, but even in my hometown Delhi, the story is still the same.

Is it because most of these people are poor, live in slums, chawls or pavements (therefore mostly illegal tenements) that we consider them to be a strain on resources? Why aren't Punjabis in Delhi or Gujaratis in Mumbai considered to be a strain? Just because they live in affluent localities, drive around in flashy cars?

The garbage from the slums is easily seen, hence the people living there are considered unclean, filthy and therefore harmful to the city's general health. What about the unseen filth that flows from our drains into the sewers? These people manage by 'stealing' electricity from regular lines and hence blamed for the electricity shortage, but what about the tonnes of ACs, thousands of tube lights and other appliances that we run? Take a simple dipstick survey and it'll be clear as to who uses more electricity and water - them or us? And then we have the gall to blame them?
These people take public transport, we burn oil in our swanky cars & bikes. Who's more wasteful and a bigger strain on the city's resources?

People want to stop their influx, but pray tell me, who'll run your autos and taxis? Who will build the apartments you live in? Who will run your neighbourhood paan shop? Try asking a Punjabi or a Gujarati to do that ... and you'll get your answer.

I once asked a peon in my office as to why would he leave the village and come to the city where we lives in a single room with his wife and two kids who share the bathroom with thirty more. His answer was simple - he wanted his kids to go to a proper school, one that is not 35km away, one that has teachers and a blackboard. He wanted his kids to know what TV is, what a cinema theater is.... something he never saw as a kid.

So tell me, where does the answer lie - In preventing these people from coming to the city by force, or by creating opportunities for them nearer to home? Let's not forget our forefathers came to the city at some point just like they do now, so how is that you are right and they are wrong?

9 comments:

Sidhusaaheb said...

Along with trying to create more opportunities for them, closer to their villages, laying greater stress on family-planning programmes in their areas should also be of help.

Sidhusaaheb said...

Er...I meant employment opportunities, of course.

;)

Anonymous said...

I am fine with your overall argument. But I have a problem with a couple of statements. "who uses more electricity and water - them or us?", "draining city resources". First of all, we (vast majority) pay for what we use and are not stealing/draining anything. Are you suggesting we reduce using electricity thereby turning the wheels of economy backwards??

nomad said...

@ sidhusaaheb - yes, i would vouch for the same too. create opportunities near their homes.

@ anon - agree with you to a certain extent, but then why would they steal in the first place - simply because there is no legitimate means to get electricity & water in their colonies. elec. board stats also prove that pilferage of electricity is equally rampant in regularised colonies and industrial areas.

suar said...

something to really think about..

well written..

Falcon said...

actually the question lies with the ubiquitous looking biharis. One is sure to find them not only in metros, you will find them in the inhospitable terrains of J&K, unexplored jumgles of North east. SO they are being despised of.

Everywhere they are being taken as intrusion - in metros with jobs, slums; in North east as changing the demeography.

Ranganath Eunny said...

We all live in the comfort of our social support systems and feel insecure about losing it. It is with this inscurity that we blame them for everything. Those poor Biharis and UP people have no such support systems. We must learn the Art of Positive Living from them. On the street I live in Chennai, a young Bihari lad stands in a corner and sells pani puri off a collapsible stand. The poor guy must have been driven out of more commerical spots by the locals for he has chosen this unlikely place to sell. I wonder how much does he sell each day. Imagine a Bihari in the suthern heartland selling panni puri. Nevertheless he comes every day and stands there looking for customers. Must give it to him for his patience, determination and positive attitude.

ANIEE ((@nit@ Verm@)) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ANIEE ((@nit@ Verm@)) said...

Hmmm...???????????