We should shut down the city more often to acknowledge the presence of visiting dignitaries from Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi blessed up with his presence and deserves our gratitude. File pic/Atul Kamble
Why do people get upset when a politician visits their city and causes them to be late for a few appointments? That thought kept nagging at me a few weeks ago, when the honourable Prime Minister took time off from his extremely busy schedule of inaugurating projects around the country to inaugurate a few projects in Bombay. A lot of people were stuck in traffic for a while, apparently, and public transport was affected for a few hours, which prompted them to start complaining about how this has never happened before. I must admit their attitude disappointed me.
Yes, we have never shut down services for a visiting Prime Minister in our history, until now, but does that mean we never should? If we stick to tradition and never change, how will all our cities turn into Smart Cities within the next 400 years? It is our mindset, stuck in the past, that prevents us from ushering in the future and I, for one, am strongly opposed to this. Those complaints also upset me because they reminded me of just how selfish so many of our countrymen can be. A few hundred of them must have reached home late from work, perhaps. Some of them may have missed a couple of meetings, or been late for visits to the hospital, but aren’t these minor inconveniences when one takes the larger picture into account? We have a politician from Delhi visiting us, and that should be an occasion for joy, not rancour.
I pity our politicians because they aren’t respected as much as they ought to be. Yes, their supporters plaster our streets with photographs wishing them a happy birthday every other fortnight, but that is a rather trivial sign of respect. I believe it is only by shutting the city down whenever someone from Delhi visits us that we can truly appreciate their presence and acknowledge the sacrifices they make by representing us in Parliament.
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It isn’t easy to spend a few hours of one’s day listening to other politicians, thumping one’s palms on desks, and issuing statements to the press. It may not sound like a full-time job to most of us, but we fail to remember that a majority of politicians are barely literate and can’t do much more. It is discriminatory for us literate folk to expect someone with a dubious degree in, say, Entire Political Science, to do anything constructive. It isn’t easy to forego homecooked meals for canteen fare every week either, even though these meals are heavily subsidised. It isn’t easy to spend one’s days doing nothing, while making it look as if one is doing something genuinely important. It can take a significant toll on a person, which is why I am always angry when someone disparages our politicians. It is no coincidence that almost no one in Parliament looks healthy or presentable before a camera. If you were to do what they did all the time, you would look drawn and haggard too.
We need to remind ourselves that the Prime Minister could have been anywhere that day, holding an election rally in a smaller city perhaps, but chose to be in Bombay instead. He blessed us with his presence and deserves our gratitude. Naysayers were also upset about the large cut-outs and banners featuring his visage at every nook and corner, but I was happy because we simply don’t see his face enough. I couldn’t recall what he looked like until I saw those banners waving on the Western Express Highway. There was even a large cut-out outside a place of worship, signifying how politicians are often more deserving of respect than our gods and goddesses.
I propose a state holiday the next time someone from Delhi stops by to inaugurate a new bridge or something. Offices and schools should be closed, and we should all be encouraged to bring our children out onto the streets and wave as our politicians drive past. Hospitals should postpone surgeries so doctors and nurses can show their appreciation. After all, they are almost never allowed to participate in public life given the distraction of patients on life support.
We should count our blessings instead of focusing on problems. After all, if we didn’t have our politicians, would we be the world’s most amazing country today? I think not. It’s why I hope the government of Maharashtra does more to honour politicians from Delhi in the future. Maybe even rename our city after one of them?
When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira
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The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.