The incompetence and venality of politicians is matched only by their shamelessness. Instead of getting their act together, they are determined to punish anybody criticizing them. The RJ Malishka case is a testimony to their meanness.
After a video posted by 93.5 Red FM’s Malishka lampooning the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) went viral, two Yuva Sena members asked the municipal commissioner to file a Rs 500-crore defamation suit against the private radio channel. The video slammed the corporation for its inability to take care of potholes and drainage. The two young leaders—Amey Ghole, a corporator, and Samadhan Sarvankar, Sena legislator Sada Sarvankar’s son—claim that Malishka and the radio channel were unfairly slamming the BMC.
In a typical case of pettiness, the BMC authorities sent Malishka a notice for mosquito-breeding in her house, even as the ally Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition criticized the Shiv Sena and the BMC for victimizing RJ. But it seems that the Sena and the BMC are beyond all reason; nothing can drill any sense, let alone decency, in their hearts and minds.
A woman biker lost her life in Mumbai on Monday because of a pothole. The country’s richest municipal corporation cannot provide good roads.
Last week, a former Doordarshan anchor, died of injuries caused by a roadside tree that fell on her, the third such casualty this year in the city. The Times Of India reported (July 23) that the “incidents of branches and trees falling have occurred throughout the month. The owner of the bungalow, in whose property the coconut tree stood, had approached BMC months ago and paid to have the 50-year-old tree cut. After an inspection, a civic team decided to trim it.”
On Tuesday, 12 people were killed, as a building collapsed at Ghatkopar in Mumbai. The building belonged to Shiv Sena leader Sunil Shitap who was carrying out illegal construction on it. He has been booked by police, but then it is usual to see politicians facing criminal charges but unusual to see them getting convicted.
Unfortunately, it is not just in Mumbai that the local authorities are guilty of criminal negligence; other cities and towns are no better. In Delhi, for instance, a 57-year-old businessman died on Monday, falling into a storm water drain at Mayur Vihar. The mishap occurred because a slab was missing at the pavement.
Against this backdrop, the fancy talk about smart cities appears surreal. It is like discussing for hours what kind of meal should be offered to a starving person—north Indian, Mughlai, continental, or Chinese. The discussion keeps going on endlessly but the food never arrives.
As I have pointed out earlier, the civic problems—indeed most national problems—do not call for massive funding or state-of-the-art solutions. After all, filling up potholes and making decent roads are not rocket science; ensuring that there are no missing slabs doesn’t necessitate the management skills that only IIM alumni can provide; taking care of roadside trees don’t require huge funds. The only thing needed is a little bit of—yes, a little bit of, not great—dedication to work. But this is not what our netas are willing to do.
Our political masters indulge in all manner of tokenism, symbolism, jamborees, stunts, and gimmicks; they make long, rambling speeches; they behave like juvenile delinquents in Parliament and other assemblies; they sanctimoniously assert their concern for their country, state, people, etc. In short, they do everything that has zero salutary effect on the nation and society. And when somebody reminds of their failings, as Malishka did, netas tend to victimize them.
Welcome to Modi’s New India.