of cakes, ladoos, sewaiyan and Godji

India First is the campaign launched by a leading TV channel in the wake of the judgement being pronounced later today on what is known as the oldest property dispute in Independent India. Political parries are urging all to remain calm and young India is exhorting us to look forward and at the real problems that plague our land. I guess all this because the memories of December 1992 are still fresh in many minds. No one is willing to take any chances: schools have been shut incertain states, demonstrations banned, leave of police personnel cancelled and the country is on tenterhooks.

So what is all this about.

There are many ways of looking at the Ram Janam Bhoomi/Babri Masjid issue. I will take the most candid one and borrow the title of an earlier blog I wrote: it is all about ladoos, cake and sewaiyans! In December 2009, when a volunteer decided to celebrate Xmas in our newly opened women centre where the children were predominantly Muslims and Hindus, I had to explain what Xmas was, I did so by telling them that it was a festival where you ate cake and not ladoos or sewaiyans and somehow the children understood. I could have also sung them the Usha Uthup song where she talks of all festivals as being days when you wear new clothes, visit friends and relatives and eat nice food be it Xmas, Eid or Diwali. That is how simple it actually is. You can either see temple or mosques, or if you do with your heart see a house of God.

But sadly religion has been used by power hungry people to justify the worst aberrations possible like the one that happened in December 1992 when a house of one God was brought down in the name of another. On that December day I was ashamed of my religion as I am each time an aberration is committed in the name of religion. I wrote an earlier blog on this and am reproducing some of it below.

I am a Hindu by birth and by choice. I was born to profoundly Hindu parents but grew up in lands of diverse faiths. My parents never imposed their views or beliefs. At home Hindu festivals were celebrated with fervour and some ritualism and the many questions I asked at different moments of my life were answered candidly and without fuss. It is much later in life that I discovered that my mother was not really bent on ritualism but it was her way of introducing me to my faith. I grew up with my set of questions and doubts and each one got cleared with simple honesty.

When I asked one day whether I could go to church and partake of communion as all my school friends did ( I was in a convent school) my parents simply answered that I could if no one had any objection. I guess I had expected a vehement refusal and was a little perplexed by their reaction. I did go to church often and even found a humane priest who allowed me to taste the holy wafer. Some years later while in an Islamic country I wanted to fast in the holy month of Ramadan and once again I got the warm approval of my parents. I celebrated the Sabbath with my Jewish pals too and with every such occurrence my belief got strengthened as I was proud of belonging to a religion that did not close any door in my face but on the other hand allowed me to embrace all faiths. I was proud to be a Hindu. The tales my parents told me only went to reinforce my faith. I was delighted by the pranks of Lord Krishna and by the touching tales of Ram when he ate the fruits proffered by Sabri or rode in Kevat’s boat. I never felt the need to question the sagacity and humanness of the religion I was born in. Till the fateful day in 2002.

Today as India’s stands waiting for a court decision that will decide which faith a particular piece of land belongs to and hoping against hope that no violence will ensue, my thoughts go back to that fateful day when my headache vanished thanks to the prayer of a little boy to a faceless and nameless God who listens to those who pray with their heart. He is the one I now pray to and hope that once again he will hear.

some disturbing numbers

It was a relief to finally see an article on the human price of the CWG. The article entitled Labour bore the brunt appeared on the NDTV website. Do read it. It talks not only of the plight of the labour that toiledto make the games a reality but also off the callous attitude of the authorities towards the workers and how they have been exploited. The article also refers to a report entitled Games the State plays. This report makes disturbing reading. The exploiting of the voiceless poor seems to be a huge moral scam. Minimum wages were not paid and neither was overtime. Few women were employed and were not paid the same wages as the men. And children too were employed. There was no safety of the workers and the living conditions were abysmal. According to a member of a civil liberties organisation, “the depressing living conditions at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium labour colony represent hovels where human beings have to literally crawl like animals.” This was the plight of about 40 000 workers who toiled day and night to make the show a success. I urge you to read this report as if nothing else, the people who made the Games possible deserve at least that. That is one part of the human tragedy.

The other is being staged as I write these words. Today’s newspaper carries the following articles: poor banished from public spaces, cops asks hawkers and vendors to pack up and so on. The message to the downtrodden is clear: don’t step out, lest the Games visitors spot you. This is the order of the day.

Many of our parents have come to inform us that they will be leaving the city as with no work they will be unable to survive. We course are not closing pwhy during the Games. This is our own way of protest!

Off with more heads….

For the past months now I have been writing about the terrible human tragedy that has been the result of the Commonwealth Games: loss of lives, loss of homes, loss of livelihood and these continue by the minute. I have tried to keep a distance from all other issues such as corruption, national pride and more. Not that these did not affect me, far from that, but because many have taken up the cudgels on these issues. But a news item that appeared yesterday changed all that.

I refer to an interview given by the CEO of the CWG where the gentleman resorted to attack as the best form of defense. It may be said here that this gentleman has been in India for three years, supposedly supervising the preparations of the show. Among other things, the gentleman blamed India’s population for the traffic snarls! Needless to say he was promptly rebutted by a: can we just make half the population vanish or keep people indoors! Another case of off with their heads!

Somehow this comment stung me and touched many raw nerves. How dare anyone make such a remark! I always felt that the whole Commonwealth concept was passe and outdated, a vestige of colonialism that we could well do without and this more than validated my stand. How could I forget my own existence. Was I not the child born in free India that a woman way back in the 1930s decided to bring to life. My mother who reached a marriageable age in the mid thirties refused to be wedded as she did not want to bring a slave child into this world. She waited till India became independent to marry and thus I was born a free Indian. Yet for the past days all I have heard are outrageous remarks about my land and that for not fault of its proud people but because of a handful of incompetent, corrupt and unscrupulous people who were handed over the responsibility of staging an international event. What riles me is that today a whole nation is being abused and considered inept and incapable. Offensive expletives are being used to define us: dirty, filthy, unlivable, unhygienic and more. Unacceptable reasons are being given for not coming to our land: safety, health, security and more. Inadmissible demands are being thrust upon us and we as a nation feel let down, helpless and angry.

And to make matters worse, the incompetent, corrupt, unscrupulous people are trying to appeal to our patriotism and national pride in the hope that we may forget the rest and after the show is over some scapegoat will be branded and the rest will escape free and ready to exploit us again. I wonder what people like my mother would have made of all this. Perhaps simply whispered that we did not deserve and treasure the freedom they so valiantly fought for.

An opposition leader stated yesterday on national television that he felt like hanging is head in shame. So do I as we have a let down not only those who gave us the precious gift of freedom but the multitude of proud Indians who do not deserve what is being foiled upon them.

no work whilst some play

My roof has been leaking courtesy the unprecedented rains and I mean really leaking as we had to place buckets and pots in strategic places. This morning as the rains stopped I got the mason in hoping to get it all fixed. To my surprise he told me that he would get the work done with extra workers as after the 1st no construction would be allowed in our city till the end of the Games. And as there would be no work most workers were going back to their villages. Good grief! Here was a smart way of getting ride of the poor aka as eyesores, party poopers or those who spoil the image of the city. The rumour is that train rides to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are free!

A lot is being written about the corruption, the soiled toilets, the missing athletes and more. Every self respecting Indian is outraged at the humiliation that has befallen the country for no fault of ours. But what about the human factor. Did you know that people are being pushed out of the city to accommodate the few thousands that are going to grace it for two short weeks. And I am not even mentioning the hundreds of thousands who have lost their homes and livelihood.

Shankar comes from a village in Bihar. He had to leave because his home because his meagre possessions were washed away in the floods that ravaged his village. He came to the big city hoping to survive and maybe give a better morrow to his family. He became what I call a small entrepreneur and set up a small samosa stall. Every morning before dawn he would go to the wholesale market and purchase what he needed and then by come home and prepare the vegetable filling, roll the dough and make his samosas. He would then go to the street corner and set his stall. By 10 am hot samosas fried in front of you were ready to relish. The earnings of the day were used to feed his family and purchase the next day’s needs. Business was good and there were even some savings. His children were all in school and life was good.

Yesterday Shankar’s stall was destroyed and he was manhandled by the cops who informed him that he was not to set up shop till the end of the Games and it would be best for him to pack up and go to the village. And that is what he will do as with no work he would not be able to feed his family. This is the plight of many small entrepreneurs, daily wage workers who are all being forced to leave the city. Many of our parents who have vegetable carts are doing the same as the powers that be have decided to close the wholesale markets all together! Only multinational outlets will be selling vegetables during the games. Is this a taste of what is to come?

This is outrageous. In a country of over a billion people one has to allow tiny entreprises as that is the only way people will be able to survive. All this is frightening to say the least. These free and forced train rides spell doom.

The mood is upbeat. Even the television channels that were till yesterday decrying the Games are now urging us to support them. The late intervention of the Prime Minister (where was he all these days) and the cosmetic alterations to the Games administration seem to have turned things around. But not for me. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that everyone’s pocket’s are full and loot well stashed away in outside havens. Come to think of it the dirty toilets and walls were to say the least timely as they made us all forget the corruption and loot. National pride was hurt and something had to be done. Now it seems that the success of the games is what every self respecting Indian wants.

But why is no one thinking of the 40 labourers that got injured last week, of the ones who last their lives, of the people rendered homeless, of the loss of livelihood, of those who today sit on a train to nowhere: in a word of the human factor! What is paining me is that no one is really concerned or should I say conscious of this terrible human tragedy.

another day in paradise

Last week was PTM time and boy I needed it as this is the only time when I get off my spinning planet and catch my breath. The day dawned dark and cloudy. The rains were imminent but that did not lessen our enthusiasm though we were apprehensive of traffic snarls. We set off early. Agastya my grandchild was with us. That made the day even more special. We of course had not forgotten all the goodies that the children has demanded: cookies, biscuits, chocolates and of course the pizzas!

The roads were empty and we made good time. It began pelting though but we were almost there. The school ground was inundated and looked almost like a swimming pool. There went Agastya’s favourite playground! But we knew we would still have lot of fun. The first stop was the children’s classrooms to get the unit test results. I felt a little hand in mine and looked down: It was Utpal who had come from nowhere and joined us. I asked him how he had done and he looked a little forlorn as he told me that his maths and English results were not good. I was a little perplexed but then tried to rationalise my reaction: it was not right to always expect the impossible. I did not know that my little Popples had played a trick on me: it transpired later that he had A+ in both subjects. We did the rounds and collected the results; as always the children had done well: Aditya and Meher topped their class and the rest were second or third. Only Nikhil’s results were disappointing. It seemed the child wanted to convey something we were not able to comprehend. A challenging behaviour of sorts. Would have to delve further.

On the way Agastya made new friends, two being class XII students. Quite a charmer! It was then time to go to the hostel and meet Dolly Ma’am the housemother. We would also be able to unpack the goodies all the children were waiting for. I decided to rest my bones and sit with Dolly whilst the kids ate their pizza. The rest of the goodies was to be handed over for later.It was lovely to see them all looking so happy. Agastya had taken his cars out and soon everyone was on the floor playing with the cars. Dolly briefed me on the children and most got glowing reports: Babli was very well behaved, Meher was the little granny, Manisha was now well settled, Yash was still a holy terror, and the boys were just that boys! Dolly also shared how Manisha ate a lot, I guess she was making up for years of want now that she was in the land of the plenty. I did realise she had put on quite a lot of weight. I sat for along time taking all this in and savouring the moment. This was a dream come true. I wish I could have given this chance to many more. This was what each and every child born in the country deserved.

It was soon time to go. We had all had a terrific time as always and I had more than caught my breath. My batteries were fully recharged at least tell the next PTM!

.. and all the king’s men

This is in the continuation to my previous blog: all the king’s horses! After hitting the publish button I had gone to have my lunch. The morning paper lay on the dining table. Because of the rains it had been delivered late and I had not seen it yet. I gleaned over the front page and my eyes settles on a strange title: Disappearing Maids – Cops terrorise migrant poor, push them to leave Gurgaon. Now what on earth was this. I should have guessed: more of the image building saga. But as I read my blood ran cold again. This was preposterous. The article stated: and thousands of maids, drivers and industrial workers are being packed off to railway stations and forcibly made to board trains to their native states — all as part of security ‘clean-up’ for the Games. This in spite of the poor souls having ration cards and election cards, the much sought after civic identity proof. It seemed that these were being torn and migrants were told not to return before the games.

For an instant my mind went back to yellow stars and deportation trains. It just seemed so similar. What kind of world were we living in. Now let me get things straight first migrants are wooed and given election cards as they are a rich vote bank; then one day they become an eyesore or a security risk – wonder why – and you just throw them out like you would garbage. I am livid and sad and hurt and so terribly helpless. These people have homes, families, children going to school and survive on the money they make each day. They are also the ones who make your life easier, clean your homes, wash your car, drive you to office, mow your lawn etc. I never knew they were eye sores and party poopers too! How can anyone treat a fellow human being like this!

all the king’s horses

Just a few days back an official made this shocking statement: They cannot be allowed to remain on the main road since they will spoil the image of the city we are trying to portray. The they were poor slum dwellers displaced by the floods and camping on a road side. For the past months or more we have seen destruction of homes, displacement of people, elimination of sources of livelihood all in the name of the so called image of the city. It seemed that the presence of street vendors, visible slum dwellers, road side cobblers etc would damage the image of our city.

Today we are a nation that has been humiliated and shamed not because of the so called they but thanks to the official and his ilk. Every news channel worldwide is talking about the state of the Games village which is in their words filthy, unlivable, disgusting an more. And this expletives dear Sirs, are not for the they you so ruthlessly did away with, but for the Village that was, in the words of the leader of your pack, to be better than Beijing! So what happened? We need to know. You plundered our pockets unabashedly and we at least hoped that you would deliver. But we are not prepared to accept this international humiliation silently. We demand answers. Someone has to be made responsible. And the answers you give are unacceptable. How can you say : Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The Westerners have different standards while we have different standards. How can you talk of different perceptions of hygiene. Even the poorest of the poor does not accept a dog pooing on his bed! Please do not include us in your cover up game. And stop blaming the weather, the stray dogs or God knows who!

And if that was not enough as I write these words the clean up is going on with impunity. And I do not refer to the cleaning of the Games village but to the removal of people’s livelihood. Yes businesses that have been operating for years are being razed if they happen to be on the route of a games event. You see they spoil the image! I wonder how people having tea at a tea stall or sipping a glass of juice at a juice stall spoil the image of a city. But then I guess I do not have the same principles of aesthetic as those in the seat of power.

Everything seems to be falling apart and I really do not see how it can all be put together again. Even God would be unable to do so but then God does not seem to be on your side, if he were maybe he would have at least stopped the rain.

As I watch all this in total bewilderment I am reminded of a rhyme I sing to my grandchild:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Note: the commonwealth games are being inaugurated during the Pitr Paksha or Shraad – or days of the year dedicated to the dead – considered inauspicious. Wonder who decided on the dates.

a dream in the making….

I first dreamt of planet why more than a thousand nights ago! It was almost a magical moment where fact and fiction coalesced under the watchful eyes of a little prince. Like in all dreams everything was in the realm of the possible and I allowed the dream to seed first in my own mind and then in that of others. At that time planet why to me was: a happy place where those with no hope could seek not only refuge but find meaning, where no one’s children would study just like others, where skills would be taught, where days and would filled with laughter and happiness and childhoods would be reconquered with renewed assurance watched by my smiling little prince.

Please bear with me as I travel down memory lane and unravel this puzzle of dream and reality. The need for planet why stemmed from a complex web of emotions and feelings the biggest one being worry. As I watched project why grow and flourish I also started sensing its fragility as its existence was deeply entwined in mine. Many a times I imagined what would happen if I were to exit unexpectedly and what came to mind was indeed frightening. Would Manu have to roam the streets and rummage in dustbins for food? Would Utpal be compelled to leave school as no one would pay his fees? And where would would Champa, Anjali, Radha, Munna and their pals go? In those moments my blood would run cold and I would break in a cold sweat. I could not allow this to happen, pwhy had to live beyond me in some new avatar. The umbilical cord had to be severed. But how: that was the question. How would this dream become reality.

I did not know. I simply held on to my dream with both hands and all my heart. I could see the happy place and knew I had to make it happen. For a long time my dream lived in my mind. I use to conjure it at will and spend hours fine tuning it: I could see it live and thrive. And yet if dreams are to become reality you have to muster the courage to address the uncomfortable questions and the one that plagued me the most was how would my happy place sustain itself if I was not there to hold its hand. That is when my friend the God of lesser beings decided to enter my dream and lend a little help. It came in the form of a person telling me about how another dream had come true thousands of miles away. She told me about Cusco and the Ninos Hotel. Don’t ask me why but I knew that was the way to go. My happy place would not only be a home for my loved ones but also a guest house that would sustain it.

The dream became stronger. I would not only be able to help my lost souls but also ensure that pwhy lived on, albeit in a new manifestation. It was time to share the dream no matter how impossible it seemed. And I did and believe me it did not go down well initially. Many found it preposterous. But I persisted. Somehow I knew deep inside me that it was the right way to go. There were many false starts, times when we actually believed that dream would become reality but then it all came down like a house of cards leaving me hurting and bewildered but I held on to my dream even when it looked improbable to all and even if the hurt seemed too much to bear.

I guess the God of Lesser Beings must have taken pity on the old biddy as he sent one of his timely miracles and we were able to purchase a plot of land, making planet why shift from the realm of fantasy to that of reality. And the soon the rock pile ceased to be one as St Exupery’s words came back to me: A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral . The next step was to secure funding to build my cathedral. Naively as always I copied what was written on my heart to paper and credulously believed that others would embrace my way. It sounded so simple. But then the world shook as markets tumbled. There was nothing one could do but watch helplessly and tuck away the dream in the recesses of ones’ mind before someone broke it.

Time passed. The fears returned as the fragility of pwhy became even more apparent with each new grey hair or creaking knee. I could not keep watching, I had to act. I prayed for another miracle but none was forthcoming. I shared my angst with the few I trusted seeking help. Some one suggested a more business like approach; candid and passionate appeals had no place in today’s hard hitting world. The proposal needed to be vetted, but all that cost money and we had none. But when all doors seemed closed, God does open a window. An Angel appeared and agreed to do the much needed feasibility study of planet why. What followed were weeks of nail biting and furious pacing. But the God of Lesser Beings decided to be extra benevolent and the study was completed and ended with the words: In our opinion, the proposed development at Planet Why is a lucrative and financially feasible and one which would be able to generate much higher returns than are typically found in guest houses operating across Delhi. This was sheer music to my ageing years. But it also meant that the dream needed to be actualised and the search for funds begin all over again. This was nothing short of terrifying. Would I be able to achieve this? I knew I had no choice and I also knew that the God of Lesser Beings would be with me. And moreover planet why would take time as no cathedral is built in a day! That meant that funds would be needed to carry on our daily work.

As I write these words, many the world over have come forward to hold my hand and help me make my dream come true. What we need is a huge miracle, is the God of Lesser Beings listening?

Life in the times of the Games…

Brace your self.. it will be a rough ride. Life in Delhi till the ides of October will not quite be the same and we need to prepare for it. An article in today’s paper entitled Life will not be the same from Oct 3 spells out some of the trials and tribulations we the common citizens will face: if you plan to enter the city from one of the neighbouring states then be prepared to wait at the entry points and then if by any chance you need to travel on the hallowed routes where CWG guests will tread then be prepared for huge traffic snarls. You see you are only allowed to ply on half the road. In many cases there are only 2 lanes so you see what I mean. And should you dare venture on the reserved lane be prepared to pay a 2 K Rs fine! If you ride a bus then beware there will be 5000 less available to the likes of us. You can imagine what that means. The 3rd and 14th will be public holidays: they are the opening and closing day of the Games but don’t think you can spend them shopping: most shops will be closed. Schools and colleges will be closed so better think of ways to entertain your kids at home. Vegetable vendors, hawkers, tea stalls, cobblers, press wallahs et al will not be allowed to trade: do remember this!

This is what the article says but now let us elaborate a little. A friend dropped by this morning. She told me that a few of days back the couple who worked for her asked her for 400 rs. This was the money needed to get a Commonwealth permit, whatever that means, that would allow them to stay on during the Games. Two days later their basti – cluster of shanks- was raised to the ground and they were asked to return to their village. The 400 s bribe was of course lost. They had no option as they had nowhere to stay. My friend of course is busy washing clothes and dishes, and mopping her home notwithstanding her arthritic knees! Anyway I guess this plight will befall on many!

But that is not where it ends. I had decided long back that we would remain open during the Games! I did not see why our kids should be deprived of their time at the centre. Anyway with schools closed they would be running on the streets. Moreover we were not, or so I thought, on any of the hallowed roads. But to my horror I realised that one of the main roads we use to fetch the kids was a hallowed one. It was the road on which the Lohar camp was located and was the access to the shooting range. Anyway we were prepared for the worst and were working out alternatives. A few days back some parents from the women centre came to us and told us that they were moving back to the village for a month as with all the new stipulations they would not get any work and hence would not be able to earn and so would not be able to pay their rents. They did not even know if they would come back! I was speechless. That meant that some of our children would be denied education just because of the Games! This was worse than I had thought. But what could we do. Most of our parents are daily wage workers, or have tea stalls, vegetable carts etc. With no money how would they survive? The best option was to give up their rented homes and move back to the village. And if they did come back, there was no guarantee they would find a room to rent in the same location. That would mean that their kids would not come back to pwhy!

There was more. I just learnt that the vegetable wholesale market located close to us would be closed for the 15 days of the Games. This is where we buy our vegetables for home and for our foster care and different centres. Now that meant we would have to stock up and though it is tiresome, it is still possible. But this is only a tiny side of the problem. Read on. The wholesale market or subzi mandi as it is called, is where all the local vegetable vendors go every morning to buy what they then sell either on a cart or on the smaller markets.The closing of the mandi simply means that they will be unable to do so. This translates into the simple fact that there will be no vegetables available to those who cannot afford to hoard. This also means that the small vendors will be unable to earn anything. Moreover the mandi gives work to hordes of daily wagers who will go hungry or have to leave town. What a clever way to ensure that the poor leave the city, remember they are those who spoil the image!

Many of the poor, or those I call small entrepreneurs, be they the vegetable vendors, the tea stall owners, the corner samosa man etc will not be able to trade as either they would have been forcibly moved or they would not be able to access their raw material. I wonder what they will do. I guess go back to their villages or simply tighten their belt till it hurts and wait patiently and with the resilience only the poor have.

Many of the rich are also leaving the city for greener pastures. Others like us will simply try and survive till the ides of October. So help us God!

who is the they!

I thought that nothing could hurt, anger, sadden and enrage me more then the destruction of the homes of my Lohar friends courtesy the Commonwealth Games. But that was not to be. The next morning an article tucked away in the inside page of a leading newspaper bore this headline: Flood victims camping near Village to be moved soon. Needless to say I began to read and saw it referred to the destruction of a slum school on the river bed close to the d***** Games village, something that had been written about even in a leading British daily. To put things in context the flood plain of the Yamuna river, where the Games Village has been constructed in spite of much opposition, is home to many families from time immemorial. Normally when the monsoons come and the plain gets flooded, they move their meagre belongings and camp on the main road waiting for the waters to recede. This year however the rains have been abundant and the place waterlogged and not likely to dry up soon. Some days back the little school that had been set up for the children of these families was raised citing security as the reason for such an aberration. Wonder what threat a handful of slum kids studying in a school could pose? Now it has been decided by the powers that be that these families cannot move back into their homes, even if the water recede as the whole place has been sanitised for the Games. Infuriating enough, isn’t it?

Wait a little, this is still not what made me see red. The article also quotes an official of our city and I will reproduce the quote verbatim: The Yamuna is showing no signs of ebbing and water in the flooded areas will not go down till the river recedes. This timer however we cannot wait for the water to go down so that the residents are able to go back since that will pose a security threat, They also cannot be allowed to remain on the main road since they will spoil the image of the city we are trying to portray.

Enough is enough, at least for me. I wonder though how long will civil society take to finally react and express their outrage. That a school is destroyed presumably because it poses a security threat to a highly protected area is bad enough but that citizens of this city are branded as party poopers is shocking. The people the official mentions with such disdain and contempt probably helped build the games extravaganza or grow the vegetables you and I relish every day. Today they are branded as outcasts and have become non grata like the beggars, the roadside cobblers, the street vendors, the horse cart owners, in a word like all the little people who are the real heart and soul of our city. The official at least had the honesty to spout the truth: they spoil the image of the city that he and his ilk are trying to portray.

Off with their heads or let us brush them under the carpet have been the real motto of these Games. But how can one do away with reality. It is an accepted fact, even by the officials and their ilk, that over 40% of our country is poor. So I ask how much of them can you hide. And if you are so embarrassed by them, then why have you not done anything till now to better their lot starting with providing them let us say better housing, better schools, better health care. Need I remind you that they too are protected by the same Constitution as you, and enjoy the same rights. The school you destroyed had been set up by a farmer couple for the 200 odd kids of the area as the closest state run school was 3 kilometers away! The couple was simply restoring the usurped rights of these children.

They will spoil the image of the city we are trying to portray are words that I cannot swallow. Who is the they! The answer is simple it is over 40 % of our fellow country men. As an activist said in the mentioned article: The urban development model followed in Delhi is all about the entitlements of the rich and not the poor since it is heavily loaded in favour of the propertied and the salaried classes, before sarcastically adding: Those who do not own property have been completely excluded from Delhi’s Master Plan. Let me take the sarcasm further and ask whether we are reay and willing to iron our own clothes, wash our laundry, repair our fuse istead of rushing to call the local electrician and so on, because the they we are treating with such contempt are the very ones who make our lives easier! Where are we going, can anyone tell me?