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My City, My Delhi
Delhi has reached the pinnacle of its glory where it is today due to its sheer pragmatism. A city that was just the capital of the country with a few institutions of pride couple of decades back has transformed into a metropolis with global imprints.
I CAME TO Delhi one hot April morning back in 2003, to pursue my post graduation with a dream of a high paying job, a smart and sure channel to high life. Delhi was the Eldorado, a city with an ever growing number of educational institutions, corporate & head offices of multinationals, a thriving local economy, all resulting in a huge job market. A market from where I contemplated my honest share. Life has not been a cakewalk, but Delhi has been a home ever since.
And suddenly few weeks back I read headlines quoting Mrs. Sheila Dixit, Delhi’s CM that immigrants from neighboring states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are creating infrastructural bottlenecks for the city. She started her political career as a member of Parliament from the Kannauj parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh in 1984. Wonder why she migrated back and forth to Delhi? In the following days, this brought about a huge public outcry from various sections of the society and political parties, eventually making Mrs. Dixit backtrack on her indiscretion.
But the debate does not end here. The issue is more serious than what it seems on the face of it. This is a xenophobic hangover that the average Indian, moreover an average Delhiite suffers from. Appalling though that the much-respected Chief Minister of Delhi jumped on to the bandwagon. “Pata nahin kahan-kahan se aa jate hain”. ‘God knows from where these people come from’. I have heard such comments after the slightest altercations with auto-wallahs, while bargaining on the fare (did you say meter?) or a request to take an extra mile that was not clarified beforehand.
But why this xenophobia? Have not we, the people of India, solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, democratic, republic, with justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as our guiding principles. People who were not privileged enough to attend a school can be condoned for the time being. What about all those who surely read the preamble to the Indian constitution, that is, if they have passed school!
An explanation to such mindset is a struggle to get hold of the few jobs and business prospects that a particular geographical area offers. Dereliction creates hatred in a contest to chase the constrained resources. But this is incorrect by a huge margin in the context of Delhi. It is one of the most prosperous and opulent cities in India. There is profuseness of almost everything except for road space, water and electricity. Problems that can be tackled with careful and dedicated planning.
These thoughts have brought out another compelling and bewildering question. Who is a Delhiite anyway? The Mughals settled in the walled city. New Delhi was built by the British. Both these empires attracted common people from various adjoining and far away areas who immersed themselves in trade and the plentitude of employment opportunities generated by the flourishing dominions. Who is a native then? Someone whose family has outstayed the newcomers? The Punjabi and Bengali migrants from West and East Pakistan who made Delhi their home in 1947? Or the huge Kashmiri Pandit migrant population who settled here after the onset of militancy in Kashmir? Or the gargantuan bureaucracy that lives in the city to carry on the colossal governance tasks, at both the central and state levels? A officialdom that found its way into the ranks of the civil service from diverse geographical regions in India. I am confused and believe that even the reader is.
But on second thoughts, why ponder about this issue at all? Delhi has reached the pinnacle of its glory where it is today due to its sheer pragmatism. A city that was just the capital of the country with a few institutions of pride couple of decades back has transformed into a metropolis with global imprints. The city is a major center for education, trade & commerce and industry. This has been achieved by not clinging to its past, but by embracing change as it came. Something that other metros like Kolkata have markedly failed to.
So, we are all citizens of this country and cosmopolitan Delhi. Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, etc., we live in this city, work here, spend here and dream here. Antecedents should not come in the way of cementing a social framework that is vying to be global. Let us unite in this endeavor to make it a reality, making Delhi a true cosmopolitan city. Pose a competition to New York, which has prospered by espousing emigrants from a multitude of European, African and Asian races.
I am all for this view and am not going anywhere. This is my city, my Delhi!
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