Tuesday 26 July 2011

Then and now

An intercity road in the interiors of Punjab.
Back in Punjab for a few days, I found the highway running parallel to our family home being widened. The changing landscape reminded me once more of the days when the national highway from Delhi to here was not half as wide, and not half as congested.
The husband is a great one for vacations, even if in recent years we've been too preoccupied to take a break in the hills. For that is where we always headed, apart from two trips to the Deccan plateau. Green trees outlined on scenic hilltops, the winding roads as we zipped up and down the slopes, the sharp bends and unexpected plain stretches, the clouds above forming a backdrop so mesmerizing that we would miss the chequered foothills and valleys below, all too much to take in at one go ... we carried these memories back from every trip, always made in June.
We were fond of hunting out the remotest locations at which to spend our four days. We opted for government-run hotels that offered just enough comforts so that my father-in-law was not inconvenienced. At the same time, we wanted the children to get by with minimal luxury. To their credit, they did, happily. Busy holiday retreats were within motorable distance, yet we avoided the teeming and screaming crowds. We'd coast through the popular sites and stop at the occasional lookouts the road planners had so thoughtfully provided. Parking the car safely out of the way, we'd drink in the scenery which I've always held is unmatched anywhere outside India. On the fifth day, we would hit the road back home. The weather used to be scorching, but I don't recall any of us complaining. The children would nod off to sleep once we were in the plains, as if caressed by the hot breeze streaming in from the rolled-down windows of our Premier Padmini. A primitive stereo player would belt out old Hindi songs that the children still know by heart because of the hundreds of times they were replayed. FM radio came on the national scene many years later.
National Highway 1 in those days was a rather narrow strip, flanked by thick foliage that met high above us to form a lush green tunnel through which it was a pleasure to drive. No wonder we did not need an airconditioned car despite our frequent encounters with mirages on the melting road tar.
A stretch of National Highway 1.
Today the highway has been widened to a six-lane, even eight-lane carriageway, but the trees that lined them have been hacked down for the expansion. The ones planted in an attempt at reafforestation are yet to grow tall enough.
Travelling on the state highways brings back those old days, though. In most of Punjab and Haryana, these are still two-way roads to a large extent, and shaded by trees. Of course, in the not-too-distant future they too could need additional strength to shoulder the growing burden of traffic.
A lot of what I write is about 'then and now', but this one's about the transformation of our physical world, of the country we knew and one that is changing track ... trying to get into the fast lane!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

View from the rooftop

Looks like my tryst with those woolly shapes residing far above is going to be short-lived. It's finally raining, days after the clouds had stayed aloft as if Nature was holding up an umbrella to keep the sun out.
Being a wheezy sort of person, I avoid using the stairs. Recently, though, I have taken to climbing up and down four flights to give my knees a daily workout. All these days there was little sun, the cloud cover making my forays to the terrace rather pleasant. It was also an inducement to carry my phone along, just in case. And a good thing it was.
Though the clouds were not as dark and menacing as the ones I clicked in Punjab, the view from the rooftop gave me a new perspective. Skyward, I mean, not on what happens down below.
Just my second trip to the roof, and I witnessed a beautiful scene unfolding in the heavens (right). The morning sun was bent on breaking the nexus of light and dark grey, and had prised open the clouds a bit. Within seconds, the sunbeam grew stronger and my eyes could take no more of its sparkle.
A few days later, the sight of great fluffy clouds greeted me as I emerged from the stairs. I began clicking, finally moving my phone camera directly overhead (below, clockwise from left). The yawning grey and white of the vast skies and the fact that my head was almost at a right angle to my spine made me feel dizzy. Shakily, I wended my way down the nearest flight of stairs and decided to henceforth revel from afar in the wonders of the unknown yonder.
Part XII of my Nature in pictures series.

Thursday 7 July 2011

The two-minute turf war

The cacophony was too much to resist. There was no time to record it, but my phone camera was at work within seconds. The mynahs were oblivious to every other presence. One pair was intent on fending off another. The intruders had been presumptuous enough to wing towards a nest being built atop an airconditioning unit. Clearly the owners of the nest were furious.
All one could see was a vicious flurry of wings. The attack was so intense that the ones flat on their backs didn't seem to have a chance. Twigs were scattered around; loud screeches, angry beaks and arched claws combined to complete the battleground effect.
I was afraid my presence would cut the scene short, but so wholly focused were the birds on protecting what was theirs that the turf war would probably not have ended till they'd drawn blood. But right then a young man off to work decided to drive straight over ground zero, to the relief of the besieged. The fight broke up unceremoniously as the four flew out of the car's way. It was all over in less than two minutes.
Nature in pictures, Part XI.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Faster than snails

My Nature series, Part X. 
Our small lawn was my favourite haunt in my childhood.
I loved to spot mushrooms under the hedge, to pop the balsam pods and watch the seeds scatter all around. You needed years of study and experience to know which ones were ready to pop. I'd track the path of butterflies as they flitted around: the yellow and black ones hovered over flowers while the tinier grey ones looked for nectar among the occasional wild flowers in the grass. I would also spend hours watching the caterpillars as they blissfully nibbled bare our lemon plant ... and was forever looking out for snails. Not the slimy, ungainly types. These were wondrous little creatures barely a centimetre in length: blobs of translucent sponge carrying lightly the burden of tiny yellow shells on their backs, nosing around in the soil.
I loved the open air then; I am glad to reconnect with nature in pictures now, using my phone camera. We don't have balsam plants around, and anyway I can't bend any more like I could, to peer into flower beds and watch them at work; but I miss those snails.

After more than three decades I have, however, encountered some their larger cousins, and I'd never seen such big ones before during my morning walks: not a patch on my little friends of old, but snails nevertheless.
A few days back, this dark brown mollusc was labouring across the path I take every day. To put it out of harm's way, I tried to coax it onto a dried leaf. Conveniently for me, it receded into its shell pronto, and I deposited it near a flower pot. In the twinkling of an eye it had uncoiled and stuck like glue to the edge of the pot.
Yesterday, I found three of them taking a morning stroll. For the first time, without an examination in mind, I read up on snails.
Apparently they are nocturnal, but may venture out on a cloudy day. But the tiny snails that I remember were morning regulars, getting busy soon after we'd watered the plants and the soil was nicely moist.
Snails don't move in a straight line, and leave a trail of mucus behind but the one I clicked yesterday certainly wasn't walking on slime; more like it had been visiting a bunch of fallen leaves still very wet from the night's rain.
Snails are also, well, notoriously slow; hence the saying, moving at a snail's pace. Snail-world.com says "Garden snails are the fastest (of the) species and they can move about 55 yards per hour. While they don’t move fast, they do move at a very steady pace."
Despite my girth, I manage to outpace garden snails at least.

Thursday 23 June 2011

A generous bounty

Identified the tree I wrote about (From buds to blooms)?
There's this amazing feeling each time you see a flower has bloomed, when a tiny fruit appears on a branch, when it has ripened: nature's generous bounty.
These pictures of our lemon tree, all of course taken with my faithful phone camera, tell a tale of beauty: a rash of pristine white flowers, yellow at the core, changing shape and hue to metamorphose into green little globes that mellow into yellow.
And it's not a seasonal phenomenon. Lemons from this tree continue to grace our table through the year: in salads, as pickle, as nimboo paani...
Nature in pictures, Part IX.

Raring to go.
Prime time.

Laden with green.
Sweetly sour!

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Marble in the sky

As a young professional just starting out, I used to look up to many seniors with years of experience and maturity. One, a Bengali colleague in a sister publication, was the philosophical kind. He would sometimes walk me to the bus stop in the evening. On one such occasion I remarked to him how the star-spangled sky always sent a chill down my spine at its vastness and my smallness in contrast. He nodded, and added smilingly that this contrast applied to all mankind; it was just that not everyone acknowledged it.
Inky at night or bright and sparkling when the sun is out, the changing colours and moods of the sky are as unpredictable and awesome as they are beautiful.
Fist of fury
It's so true man can only imitate nature, never replicate it, as a walk across a marble floor or a visit to any shop selling marble and tiles will show. Always, unfailingly, each sheet or slab of the stone will have a unique pattern. Even when the sheets have been cut out of the same piece of rock, no two sheets will be absolutely the same.
And it's the same for the sky when it's at its most furious. As clouds scurry across the horizon or loom over your head threateningly, they form patterns we can never hope to copy.
Gnarled ferocity
Furrowed brow
Our family home in Punjab being located in an uncongested area, a recent visit gave me an uncomfortably close lens' view of the wrathful side of nature. It was as if huge slabs of marble had suddenly formed a dense magic carpet that had taken flight. The overcast skies stretched grey for as far as the eye could see. With my phone camera I began clicking the furrowed brow of nature, of course hurrying inside as the big raindrops came clattering down on us.
As the rain moved away, I heard my husband calling out urgently. I shuffled out, only to run back into the house on the double to grab my phonefor he was pointing to a rainbow.
Heavenly hues
Nature's palette
As he rushed upstairs to open the windows so I could have a better view, from the porch I quickly snapped the new colours of a sky that was so thundery and menacing just minutes back. By the time I gained the terrace, the rainbow was fading, but the clouds on the opposite side were now giving a serrated smile. The black and white marble in the sky had given way to a vivid palette. Almost scared by the angry clouds less than an hour back, here I was, clicking a more colourful and friendly horizon. Nature!
Part VIII of the series.

Thursday 2 June 2011

In memoriam

I do say on the top of my blog that the play between stone and water is fascinating, but it can be cruel too—and how. 
A young ex-colleague lost his footing while taking pictures and was swept away into the lap of nature forever.
A floral tribute to him, a life snuffed in its prime, like a bloom whom age will not be able to wither now.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

From buds to blooms

Here goes Part VII of my Nature series.
In middle school, everyone had to study science and history, mathematics and the languages. We had to write, draw, calculate... we had no say, no preference, no choice. It was especially difficult for those who couldn't handle art (I must say I wasn't too bad at drawing, but struggled with numbers). If we'd had cameras and been allowed to paste pictures we'd taken ourselves, how different life would have been for many, and such fun! Now that I can click pictures, though there is no drudgery of homework, I sort of freak out with my phone camera when the opportunity presents itself.
For our biology homework, I remember we had to draw pictures of, among others, an amoeba, stages in the growth of a cell, germination of seeds, types of leaves and parts of a flower.
These I recall because they were my favourites, for even then nature's marvellous ways could cast a spell on me. We had a small lawn, and I'd get late for school because I wanted to gaze more at two new yellow flowers on a ladyfinger (okra) plant that were mere buds till the other day. I could spend hours watching a bumbling black and yellow caterpillar munching leaves off a lemon plant that hardly ever bloomed.
Nature has been very kind to me, and I'm blessed now with a family home that has a midsize tree which never stops blooming the year round. Giving us teeny-weeny buds to beautiful flowers to fruit in a space of just weeks, this tree is the darling of the family, especially the husband's.
Can you tell which tree is it? I'm saving the photo of the fruit on the tree for another time.
How many of us have actually witnessed this bud-to-fruit cycle? Not many, I suspect, for our urban jungles leave little space for such beauty to unfold and prosper. Welcome to this celebration of buds and blooms.
Meanwhile, do make a guess: what tree is this?

Tuesday 17 May 2011

A dazzling white rose, every morning

Good morning, whiteness!
The white rose that greets me outside my flat almost daily flowers for a day or two, then begins to wither. I've been watching this trend keenly: another splash of brilliance on some other branch takes over almost immediately, but two roses don't bloom together on the bush.
I wrote earlier about the rose bush that my former neighbour had planted outside my flat. One rose only at a time, and truly it remains that way.
The young man to whom she has let out her flat loves to potter about morning and evening amid the limited greenery our apartments can afford. It's great to see his little daughter faithfully by his side, when she's not away to school. He's the one who makes sure the plants outside our flats are watered regularly, and has even managed an impossible feat. He's nudged the unyielding earth outside my flat into letting him grow a beautiful little hedge dotted with cute local jasmines (below, left) that make my day each time I go out walking. It worries me less now that the flower beds outside his flat bloom much more.
The pink heart tugs at yours.
At times I feel guilty about my non-participation in an exercise that brings such a feast for the eyes. But I'm sure my neighbour's so happy to tend to the green ones around us that maybe he's best left alone with them. I can just thank him heartily whenever I see him.
The toughest must give way to flowers.
In the pictures of the roses taken over a week, note that each flower looks like a marvellous clone of the other two. The white is almost blinding, and the touch of pink just does you in. Yes, the roses dazzle in the morning; by the evening, like all else they begin to droop in the searing May heat.
A vision in white.
That's the sixth in my Nature series.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

When I got a money order

“Money order.” I looked at the man from the post office. “Excuse me?” I exclaimed in disbelief. Who, in this day and age, sends money by post any more?  Cheques, demand drafts or electronic transfer being the norm of the day, it was sort of shocking that this mode was still in use. Clearly, my metropolitan lifestyle had removed me a step from the ground realities that non-urban India faced. It was a sobering thought.
I knew of none who would send me cash this way. The postman showed me a sheet of paper with the sender’s name. It was a small organization that had once asked me to write for its magazine. Back with a bang! This money order had been sent from Delhi itself, so all was well with my world again.
I signed at two places, and the postman gave me a currency note. (Things have changed, I noted, for this man was not dressed in the khaki uniform of yore.) The sum was very small, but it set off some memories.
From college onwards, I had been put in charge of attending to all post office-related transactions on behalf of our household. So hail or storm, rain or sunshine, I walked some 2 kilometres whenever we needed to deposit or withdraw cash; to get the passbook updated; send a money order; get postal orders (those days, all application money for entrance exams had to be sent through postal orders); buy stamps; or mail a rakhi by registered post and the like.
One incident invariably comes to mind each time I fill in a cheque or a deposit/withdrawal slip in a bank now. I had to put Rs 1,200 into an account. On the deposit slip I spelt out the amount: “Rupees twelve hundred only”. The elderly man behind the counter rebuked me gently: “Child, this time I will accept it, but next time write ‘one thousand and one hundred’ or you will have to fill up another form.”
He was an exception. Most of the staff at the post office was snappy, irritable.
Technology has drastically changed the face of communication and financial exchange. There was a time when, to avoid the expense of registered mail, you could mail letters ‘Under Postal Certificate’ (UPC) to ensure that your application was delivered at the right office and not left at the doorstep or dropped into a letter box fallen into disuse. Today, even that vital appointment letter comes right into your virtual mailbox on your laptop screen, and voila! You’ve got a new job.
Post offices now offer a host of tech-based services never possible just a decade back. Unfortunately, they are still not uniformly equipped across the country; some even in Delhi took a long, long time to update. A few years back, the local post office had been supplied with the hardware but the computers lay unused for nearly a year, tied by red tape. It took me many wasted trips before my account could be closed.
For the ‘government servants’ in post offices, service with a smile is still not the motto. I discovered that on a trip to the swanky post office on Parliament Street last year. Eventually, one hopes, that too will change.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

An ode to trees

My humble way of thanking nature for giving me what I'd missed out on for so long:

Leafy patterns in the sky
You can’t reach them, however you try.
Trace them, follow them, oh so high
To be there like a bird you must fly.

They are spidery, they are dense
Now like giants they are spread.
Some are happy, some are tense
They shed leaves to give you a bed.

Fighting the rain and sun for you
They chill you shrill when the wind escapes.
They bring you fruits and flowers too
Enchanting colours and a million shapes.
Love them, nourish them, nature’s gift
Trees, these green trees, low and high.
A look—and how your spirits lift!
Keep them growing, oh, ne'er let them die.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Roses are not just red (my love)

My Nature series Part IV is about roses.
Bobby Vinton's great song Roses are red (my love) and I are almost contemporaries. I can't say if that's why in my childhood I never saw a rose that was not 'red', if you know what I mean (pic, right). We always had roses in our lawn, red roses. At school, there were some pink ones, but not enough to matter. Roses were red, that's it. Even when we visited Rashtrapati Bhavan's Mughal Gardens, the flowers there came in a range of colours beyond the possible, but I still don't recall if the roses were anything but red. At school, on picnics, they were always red: just occasionally pink or, once in a blue moon, even white—and those didn't count for me.
I'd heard of rose gardens where the flower showed off many other colours, but the one we visited in Chandigarh right after our marriage was yet to bloom with those unseen splendours. I was so disappointed, I have never stepped into a 'rose garden' again.
When the husband decided that family vacations must be spent in the hills, I grew very fond of the rugged bushes on which small roses bobbed in marvellous bunches not seen on the plains—and the roses were not red, but baby pink.
An erstwhile neighbour (I know, my neighbours keep walking in and out of my blogs, too) and I shared not only the same month of birth but also a weakness for roses. She planted rose bushes outside her flat and mine. Hers prospered, mine would not. She fought and struggled till finally she trumped nature and one day called out to my father-in-law to flaunt the fruit of her labours...a lovely white rose. More have followed, and her successor in the house even today looks after them with as much care.

Now there's a whole assortment of roses right outside my house in Punjab. They help keep the husband in good health, for he must admire them morning and evening for at least half an hour daily. This lot's fresh from my latest sojourn there. My amateur self took quite a while to click these "things of beauty" (due apologies to John Keats) over a couple of days so that they become "a joy forever": white roses, pink ones, soft orange, peach-coloured, yellow-running-into-orange, yellow, pale pink, white with red edging, deep red, bright red. They come in solo formation, couples, triplets and even clusters. I could spend days feasting my eyes on them, so am putting a few of the beauties out here.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Newfound obsession: nature's guttural music

Breathe hu-hu-hu softly into a deep hollow through a very long bamboo stick, count three, hu-hu-hu, count three, hu-hu-hu... that's how the guttural call sounded. It transfixed me.
I was taking a walk outside my home in Punjab. The rumble-resonance combo was haunting. I tried to trace what could be emitting this addictive call, but could just make out the general direction it came from.
In the evening, though, I hit pot luck...plenty of it. Nature's guttural music was playing again. As the husband and I zeroed in on a huge tree, a streak of wide black wings carried away a bronze-coloured body right across our path. Our gaze followed the black silhouette as it alighted amid thick foliage, highlighted against a darkening horizon. How I missed my camera!
The next morning I spotted it again, but it was too far away for my camera phone to capture. A deep rust body with a large, flat, black tail, the bird was like a crow in shape--only more generously built. Had it been bigger, it could have possibly beaten a full-grown eagle. I believe the eagle is the most majestic among birds, but this bird too had a regal bearing all its own.
All day it was as if I had one ear cocked for just that sound. Why that soulful note? Was the bird a loner that kept others at bay with menacing defiance? It didn't seem to keep any company. Did it generally let 'whomsoever it may concern' know this way that it was around? The sound was neither inviting nor forbidding; it was not lonely either, just sort of...brooding. I searched for a similar bird sound on the Net. The closest resemblance were the sounds made by the brown fish owl and greater coucal: yet these don't look at all like Guttural Music.
My newfound obsession seems to prefer luscious leaves; each of the trees I saw it on were dense with thick green discs that shone as the light played on them.
I'm afraid I have switched loyalties. For years, from my flat in Delhi, I have tried to catch glimpses of a bird my late father-in-law said was a shikra. It is smaller than the kites that hover in the Delhi skies, but cleverer, sharper and a better hunter, he explained.
Dad never did approve of my strange attachment to the shikra, though now I seem to connect why. Recently I heard a snatch from a Punjabi song Nee main ik shikra yaar banaya...as if the singer was still yearning for a loved one despite being betrayed. Maybe Dad couldn't figure out how to warn his daughter-in-law against one known for its fickle nature!
The shikra had a scruff of white feathers around the neck that differentiates it from the rest of the kite family. It was a fledgling when I first saw it, letting out a loud but mournful screech at intervals, as if it had been separated from its family. Over the years, whenever I heard its distinctive call, I'd rush out and frantically scan the surrounding trees to see if I could spot it. Very reclusive, it has rewarded me with a few sightings over a decade or more: always alone. I firmly believe it is the only shikra that visits our apartments.
I've spotted it on the Net now, but haven't seen the real one for months now (its infrequent calls continue) though I walk much more than I did before. Yet I don't think I'm going to miss it any more, having found another elusive, feathered one to obsess about.
That was Part III of my Nature series.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Giving Delhi many more lungs

The park next door is a sight to watch. Anyone in the neighbourhood who can afford to rise early and leave home heads here—bent on fitness. Contributing to the morning hustle-bustle are a small band of middle-aged men and women taking yoga lessons; a laughter club letting out loud peals at regular intervals; siblings playing handball in what was conceived as a skating rink; some indulging in solo exercise shows, oblivious to others milling around; slow walkers dodging joggers; and grandparents standing guard over frisky kids.
At least this riot of colour does not fade any time during the year. It’s a day-long affair in winter; in summer, the shouts and squeals peak in the morning and evening, but fade after dusk.
It’s a rather large and well-maintained park, but not too conducive for the old and infirm. Its footpaths are uneven, with steps that break your stride every now and then. And yet, it’s a community space that a hundred-odd are very thankful for, every day.
The sad part is that not all other green areas are as well looked after. Indeed, there isn’t enough open space in every locality in the city. Many public parks have been encroached upon, some have gone to seed, while a good number have been converted into parking lots because the lanes around are so cramped. Worse, a sense of ownership is missing, as in most other aspects of civic life in the Capital.
A Taiwanese official who visited Delhi in 1993 and then in 2000 remarked on the progress the city had made in those seven years…better roads, signage, street lighting and connectivity, sure, but most of all he was impressed by its green cover. He said it was one the greenest capitals he had seen.But that, I mentally added, was because he was looking out of the Taj Mahal hotel, at Lutyens’ Delhi and not its dusty, unkempt counterparts.
Untrimmed bushes turn a footpath into a convenient urinal.
No doubt the city has gained much more in terms of looks, courtesy the chaotic beautification drive for the Commonwealth Games. But its citizens need much more: clean and safe public places (not more malls, thank you); accessible and affordable sports clubs; sidewalks free of squatters to allow pedestrians some manoeuvrability, overbridges, parking lots; a urinal at every kilometre for Delhi’s eternally piddly men—and efficient policing.
Short-changing honest taxpayers.
Newspapers the other day ran stories on 75 years of ‘the lung’ of Delhi—Lodhi Gardens. But Delhi needs many, many more lungs. Only then will people take to that healthy habit called walking. To reach a park today, you have to negotiate smelly roadsides, broken tiles, bushes where there ought to be none, vendors, parked bikes, even poop. I clicked a stained pavement (top) and a half-laid footpath nearby that had been ‘beautified’ for the Games. If we can just repair and maintain what we’ve built, even if we don’t add more, Delhiites will cheer.
For now, there are too many deterrents against venturing out on foot. I’m resigned to taking short walks within my housing society’s compound. And there will be thousands like me who would rather gain weight than risk injury (yes, treadmills too are not universally beneficial).

Sunday 10 April 2011

What politicians have in common with birds

I was ambling instead of walking briskly that morning, my mind on the headlines I’d just read about Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption fast in Delhi.
A single bird perched atop a bare tree caught my eye. It sat as if it was a disinterested purveyor of all that walked the earth. Its neck was cocked impertinently to one side, and the body language…yes, that was a Eureka moment for me: it struck me that this ‘splendid isolation’ was also the defining characteristic of the political class.
Disdainfully aloof, politicians too behave as if they are masters of the universe, untouched and unmoved by what we, the people of India, want—or don’t want.
Ensconced in their ‘safe’ perches, it seems politicians take only a bird’s eye view of all that happens in the country. And like birds, they swoop to the ground only to feed their hunger (read votes). At election rallies, ‘leaders’ address voters from diases built tens of feet high, from where members of the ‘janata’ are mere specks. The suffering of this sea of humanity, immediate or long-term, gets only lip sympathy; soon the entourage (security and all) moves on to the next set of suckers.
Their ivory-tower existence has actually struck deep roots. Our ‘leaders’ are today above reproach, beyond accountability, a now-active judiciary notwithstanding. Over the years, they have abrogated all articles of faith, even as they have arrogated to themselves all conceivable powers to silence dissent or criticism by means overt or covert. Which of us is willing to stake a rupee on a politician’s word today? Do we believe them any more when they point a finger at one of their own ilk? Four fingers are pointing back at them, and for good reason. Scam after scam has rocked the country for decades now, but ‘leaders’ continue to roam free. If a rare conviction does happen, the ‘leader’ can still happily file nominations, run extortion rackets from jail, or attend to his ‘legislative obligations’ when out on bail.
Though always at loggerheads, politicians vote as one to jack up their own salaries in their only show of solidarity. Critical pieces of legislation can be shelved indefinitely, not this.
Then there's this recent move that puts an additional Rs 2,370 crore MPLADS burden on the common man. It is wholly unwarranted. What prevents members of Parliament from ensuring in their individual constituencies that each government agency is performing its duty well? Holistic development would be guaranteed. But such vigil would be too tedious for them, besides loss of benefits that come at our cost. And why look a gift horse in the mouth, when there won’t be a squeak of protest from those being milked?
They tax us heavily, breed corruption, gift away money, set up schemes to siphon funds that we contribute for better education, healthcare, infrastructure, law and order; they squirrel away our hard-earned money in secret accounts abroad, and woe betide if we question what they do.Witness the fate of whistleblowers.
These are inconvenient issues, shrugged off by politicians insulated from inflation, poverty and misery, because the entire official machinery is geared to serve them and their cohorts.
To the bird in the picture, it doesn’t matter that the tree bearing its burden is bare. What’s important is ‘splendid isolation’—exactly what the politician revels in, too. Let’s hope the #annahazare campaigners succeed in bringing him down a branch or two.