Monday, 1 December 2008

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s a French saying and I am forced to apply it to India post the Mumbai terrorist attack of last week.

Sure, some people have lost their jobs, noticeably the Home Minister. Of course, the fact that the portfolio goes to P Chidambaram (the current finance minister) speaks volumes of the paucity of efficient and competent ministerial candidates in the country. The finance ministry comes under the PM as “additional charge”. Wow!

But the fundamental problem remains the same. The great Indian divide. Between the cities and the rural masses.

Every news channel is highlighting the anger on the streets of Mumbai. But Mumbai is 18 million people. (Or 1.4% of India’s population).

Can these angry people change anything?

Well, let’s add to this another 100 million people living in India’s top 30 cities.

Does this change anything? A bit more, but not much more.

The real India is still in the villages and small towns. What is the sentiment of the “common man” living 100 kilometres from Mumbai? Has the tragedy been communicated to that common man? He may have seen the live coverage, but does he really understand his country was under siege? In his green farms, does he see the threat of terror? Or only the threat of being marginalised by another caste?

What is the sentiment of the man living 500 km and 1500 km from Mumbai? I don’t know that. The media hasn’t focused on it. And we seem to think that a few million angry Mumbai residents will change the course of politics in the country. Impossible.

The anger on the situation must spread. Unless the common man, far removed from day to day Mumbai life, is affected, nothing will change.
Because India’s common man, surely is voting for his own interests. Based on language/ caste/ sub caste… he wants his representative to find him his daily bread. A terrorist who is not striking in the villages of Uttar Pradesh is not enemy number one.

Unless media uses radio and road shows to take the problem to the common man across the length and breadth of the country, majority public opinion will still be far removed from Mumbai.

Is the media trying to do that? No way.

The heart of India is in the rural areas. Where the urban do not venture anymore.
This is a tale of two Indias. And I am willing to bet that 5 months from now when we head to the polls, the tragedy in Mumbai will be a very distant memory for 90% of the population.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If due attention is given to develop one room apartment colonies with basic toilet, kitchen and open veranda facilities in our villages, this will go a long way not only in stimulating demand for construction industry/ material but also in providing some minimum basic comforts to the people living in villages.They will help the villagers in not finding themselves homeless because of adverse whether conditions like excess rains when their kacha mut house get destroyed. These newly developed colony houses should have maximum of local material available which will keep the cost low and provide jobs to local people. There will be no dearth of demand and bank financing with easy installments should be able to attract local customer. One of the ways to narrow the divide between rural and urban India. Somi Tandon