Hindustan Times, Lucknow, Friday, March 27, 2009 page 3
Prof Alka Nigam
Department of English, BHU
There was this slogan sometime ago IGNITE THE CHANGE given for the people of Mumbai and Delhi just after one of those bomb blasts in Delhi.
Mumbai, being a metro city, can afford to say things like “Mumbai is tired, impatient and very angry” because of the potholes on its roads. But what about other cities because they too are tired and impatient if not so angry. Because here suffering in silence has become the identity of the people who are in a way used to these things and take it as their fate.
In Varanasi, on the very day of the bomb blast, the night arti at the Sankat Mochan temple was performed with gusto, that’s the Banarasi character, where Death-in-Life is no different from Life-in-Death.
Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. The glory of Babylon, Arabia, Egypt can be imagined only through the books of history, but Varanasi is still vibrant and reverberates with the magical sounds of Ustad Bismillah Khan’s sehnai, Pandit Kishan Maharaj’s table and Girja Devi’s thumari.
It still captures the rainbow colours of Nature in the warps and woofs of its famous carpets and silks. But we are treated like second class citizens by no other than our own brethren elsewhere in India.
If we can make the dreams created by Bollywood a part of our lives, why can’t they weep for the sorry state of Ganges in Varanasi?
After all we both make India. Mumbai is the ‘dream destination’ of the world but so is Varanasi. If they visit the famous ghats with handkerchief on their noses, would the stench not reach Mumbai when the two antithetical aspects are coalesced into one entity as a filthy India?
What image of India are we going to project before the world- a glamorous pretty face with the rest of body infested with sores oozing pus? It is painful and absurd and lacking in political imagination of talk about the rights of the people of Mumbai and Delhi only.
Like the people of Mumbai, we too wish to lead a dignified life so that no Kareena Kapoor can disparagingly say that her films do not cater to the needs of UP. She must know that people here have much more refined and mature taste than she could ever imagine.
We are backward not culturally, but in civic infrastructure- because of bad roads, terrible traffic jams, dirt all around, hours and hours of power cuts, -something which is beyond the control of the common man
(As told to Anuraag Singh)