The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

CWG: DELHI DECLARED WAR ON BEGGARS..AND..LOSES!!

Night unravels many things. Two nights. October 11/12, October 12/13. It was around 12:45 am.

While crossing a newly laid stretch of road just in the heart of Delhi, connecting the Connaught Place Rajiv Chowk Metro Station to the RK Ashram Metro Station, one encounters a scene, quite usual for a person living in Delhi, but quite unusual if CWG preparation claims are taken into account. Suddenly the car speeds down. What one sees on the road is a beggar lying in the middle and a policeman whisking him away on the road divider made wider by the Delhi Metro. The policeman leaves after whisking the beggar away. When eyes follow the beggar, one can find more like him on the pavement along with many homeless unskilled workers surviving yet another night. The sequence is repeated somewhat in similar manner the next day.

So what is unusual - the beggar on the road touching the CP or the almost similar sequence of event?

These guys cannot even do the patch-up properly. Patch-up, for different organizing agencies spent multiple of crores to hide their failure by hiring specialized agencies to put on hoardings and posters at places and on roadsides to mask the reality of the Delhi belly. And, beggars are nothing but one of the innumerable forced contributors to the failed Delhi beautification drive in the run-up of the Games. Yes, the beggars got company in unskilled migrant labourers, domestic workers and people living in shanty towns.

Circa April 2009! The Delhi government proposes to make Delhi free of beggars for the CWG. A decision bound to draw flak from human rights and volunteer groups. And it drew attention in a way that made the tone of the initiative so meek that the government had to succumb to the pressure. The case came to the court. The next hearing is in November!

Circa 2010! Delhi government thinks of innovations. First comes the great idea – bamboo them out. Under this mega plan, the Delhi government planned to plant aesthetically looking bamboo railings in areas with slum population and on roadsides with homeless that might anyhow caught eyes of tourists, in this case the foreigners. It created a debate. Democracy was put at stake. Good spiced media stuff. The plan ultimately tanked. 

But, beggars in the heart of CP! That shows what Delhi government is capable of. After failing to send them to their native places, it decided to ‘rehabilitate’ them till the games are over. It seems there is some scam that has conned the beggars too. What else can suggest a beggar at CP when Games are at its peak?

And the inherent limitation! Organizing agencies had to manage everything within the left amount out of the Rs 70,000 crore bounty. The result - this drive too failed like unaccountable accounts of project failure of CWG 2010.
  
So who’s the looser, who’s the winner? Both seem to be reluctant losers, for it doesn’t matter for them. Both will be back to their business once the Games are over; government playing with words in the CWG 2010 fiasco aftermath, beggars trying to make for the loss that they are claiming to incur due to the CWG.

Much has been written about the fiasco named CWG. But, like many Delhi attributes, just google ‘Commonwealth Games and beggars in Delhi’ and one will come across considerable media coverage including international publications. It throws some facts to be counted.

A Wall Street Journal blog says, “Many of Delhi’s beggars agree that the Commonwealth Games have been bad for business. Back when the city was hoping for 1,00,000 extra visitors during the Games, one group of beggars, expecting a big windfall, reportedly started classes to teach its members how to ask for money in different languages. The classes even taught them to recognize currencies from different countries.”

Incredible! Just like beggars on the business near the ‘Incredible! India Food Festival’, set up for Games near the CP.

For beggars and homeless, the Delhi government has provided shelters with tents and Games banners in park and open areas. Here they are provided with food and other necessities. Probably, the beggars still out on the street are ambitious type. The lucre to good business from the visiting foreigners led them to evade the Delhi’s government’s last-ditch effort. 

Straight out of the movies like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, begging as an organized profession. A media report quotes Paramjeet Kaur, director of ActionAid’s ‘Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan’, “Unskilled workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan who come here are considered beggars. The real beggars in the Capital operate as mafia organizations and are never caught.” And they have sizeable count. A 2006 Delhi University study puts their count at around 60,000. However NGOs say the count is somewhere near 1,00,000 mark. So the quantum of the business here is something to be taken care of by the stakeholders. Any indication why the ‘beggar cleansing’ drive failed?   

National Institute of Urban Affairs report on urban migration says nearly 1,00,000 below-the-poverty-line people migrate to Delhi annually. The Delhi being the main amphitheater, here the government cleansing drive has ended up targeting this group. It has ended up in erasing shanty localities, displacing slum dwellers, encroaching vendors, packing back the migrant labourers. Can Delhi survive without this group of backend labour and alternate economy? A United Nations report says the numbers of such victims of cleansing drive may be up to 4,00,000. This many of people have been forced to leave their homes in the last three years for the drives related to the Games. The NCR towns, Gurgaon and Noida acted in their own characteristic ways. Haryana followed Delhi in Gurgaon in evacuating unskilled migrant labourers given its fraternity on international professional. UP was as usual, doing nothing except filling papers with words and closing some roads.
  
Delhi CWG 2010 preparations, that have ample scope to continue even after the Games are over, had many human subjects at hand to be treated. And beggars were the most vulnerable one and now they have proven the most resolute one too. It is not about streamlined politics. Sometimes, Democracy, too, comes to the rescue.

And so there are accounts of beggars being witnessed by the local people as well as by the foreigners, not just in hinterland type places of Delhi but at main markets as well as near the hot-shot CWG venues!

But it has thrown an important learning that we all would love to unlearn in the days to come. Making Delhi free of cluttered residential areas, slum dwellings, encroachments and beggars is as difficult as trusting Mr Suresh Kalmadi to organize Olympics in India, if it, somehow, manages to get one.

After-all, holistic growth and development is about corruption free governance that seems unlikely in the India of the day!

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