Tuesday, March 8, 2011

They beg to differ with Govt on ‘beautiful Delhi’


Before the Commonwealth Games, the beggars on streets had been forcibly removed, they are back, doing what they did – begging.

Amitabh Shukla / New Delhi

Before the 2010 Commonwealth Games in October, Delhi did it best to present an “international face”. The solution, it found was banishing the beggars from the streets and uprooting the slum dwellers, forcibly putting them in designated homes or putting them in trains headed to far flung areas of the country so that the foreigners do not see the underbelly of the city.

They are back now. And back with a vengeance. All streets are full of beggars so are the markets, traffic junctions and almost all religious places of the city. Not only the beggars, the people uprooted from slums too are trying to get back in their original place only to be shooed away. It is now clearly visible that instead of long term

measures and solutions, the authorities merely undertook the short term measures and the results are there for all to see all over the national Capital.

The act of democratic India in 2010 was similar to what communist China did before the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when it undertook several draconian measures to present an “international face”.

The Delhi government started a major cleanup operation before the Games and the plan was to rid the streets of the city of stray dogs, slum dwellers, beggars and any stray animals that are found wandering the streets. This was considered “un Commonwealth type”. Existence of more than one lakh beggars alone in the city was a problem for the government but it (un)successfully managed to “hide” them from the players, officials and a few tourists who came to the city during the October 2010 Games.

Now questions are being asked as to why these actions are taken when there is a huge event about to take place. Shouldn’t poverty reduction and cleaning up the streets be an ongoing process? The beggars too are citizens of their country and also ask for a place under the sun like their more fortunate citizens hailing from demarcations like the lower, middle or the upper class.

Why wasn’t a war on poverty launched instead of removing the beggars. Why didn’t the government launch policies to help the poor in the run-up to the Games instead of trying its best to get rid of them. The amount which was gobbled by the corrupt officials in the Games could have easily funded the rehabilitation package for 1 lakh beggars which the city has.

After the fiasco of the Games and the scams associated with it, people are genuinely questioning the relevance of holding such events now. The stadiums and venues, built with tax payer’

s money are lying unused. Soon, the new coat of paint and plasters will peel off and there would hardly be any long term legacy left for the citizens to cherish.

The Commonwealth Games was not a joy for the poor of the city. They now have a simple prayer. “For God’s sake, do not organize any such event in Delhi”.

(March 8, 2011)

No comments:

Post a Comment