Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Some impressions from my recent visit to Uttar Pradesh...

Last week I visited my ancestral place Bhadohi and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (UP) last week. I try to visit my ancestral place regularly as there are still many people who I know personally and it is always a pleasure to interact with them personally. There are many sweet childhood memories associated with this place and this place brings back those sweet memories. Last time I visited this place in 2010, so it was four long years after which I visited it again. This time I was also curious to know about what people think about current government of India as this is the first government after 1984 which has won absolute majority in parliament and UP is one of the major reasons why this things happened (BJP+ won 73 seats out of 80 in this state).  I did not expect to see any drastic changes as it is just five months since this new government came into power but was mainly interested in mood and expectations of people.

City of Varanasi was as clean (or dirty) as it was during my previous visits. Airport of Varanasi is very good shape but the roads of the city are in horrible conditions. There is garbage lying around at many places and cattle (especially cows and buffalos) roam on road freely creating nuisance to traffic. When I asked people around me why they are not participating in ‘Swachha Bharat Abhiyan’ (clean India movement’ started by our PM Mr. Modi who also happens to be MP of their city they just laughed at me and called me too naive to expect such movements will work. I literally tried to remind people about this movement whenever I saw anyone throwing litter on street but every single time I was welcomed with cynical smile or just why don’t you mind your own business look.  My son was literally petrified when he saw his cousin tossing chips wrapper on street while travelling on cycle rickshaw, when he asked her why she did that she innocently replied, “Everyone does that, it’s not a big deal”. But after couple of days when I say him spitting right in the middle of street and asked why he did that he gave me same answer, this is what majoritariainism does to you, knowingly or unknowingly many people surrender to beliefs and ways of majority without even realizing it. I have to remind my son that it doesn't make wrong things right just because majority of people do it, wrong is still wrong and don’t’ try to mend your ways just because you are a minority. It was really sad to see lack of interest of people in clean India drive; they were not at all passionate about such a amazing initiative that too in a constituency of a man who started this movement just few weeks back. Some roads of this city were wide enough for two way traffic and in reasonably good condition compared to many others, when I asked people about who did this work? They all replied that it was because of district magistrate Mr. Pranjal Yadav. There were also few roads which were newly paved and smooth, when I asked about them people told me that they were repaired recently as our new PM Mr. Modi was supposed to travel on them. I really wish that Mr. Modi choose different road every time to travel in Varanasi so that every road gets a nice makeover because of his travel.  

In my village things were even worse, there was no electricity, and out of two days I stayed there we received power only for 8 hours that too in-between 10 PM to 6 AM. I wonder how young kids will study in such poor infrastructure, people have cars, good houses, etc. but no electricity. One good this which I saw was that every home in my village have a toilet now, I was very happy to see it. At least some good work has been done my current government. Situation of roads and electricity was really pathetic but people seem to have learned to live with these conditions. Another incident which shocked me was when I saw a huge traffic jam during one of my road travel in Bhadohi (my village is a part of this town). Entire one side of a major high way (Grand Trunk road or GT road) was blocked by police and people were forced to use only one side of the road creating huge chaos and very long line of trucks as this road is main transport road for this part of state. I have seen many traffic jams in my life but this was utter chaos. I was thought what if someone falls seriously ill and needs to go to hospital urgently how they can navigate in such a mess as there is no one to help them. But I guess I was the only one who was having this stupid question in my mind, everyone else around me was fine with this mess. When I asked people what happened? Why police blocked entire one side of the road? I was told that there is 'Bharat Milaap ceremony' (a function celebrating meeting of Ram and Bharat) which is going to take place on road and that’s why it is closed. I really couldn’t believe my ears that they can block a major highway in the middle of a day for such a stupid reason but it was true. I wondered why they are doing this thing on a main highway. Why can’t they do it in some school ground or open field where everyone can watch it comfortably and which won't result in such huge traffic jam and inconvenience to so many people? Why all these people stuck and suffering for no fault of theirs  are silently watching this stupidity? When I rose some of these questions to people around me they all agreed with me but they said "kya kare, ye aisa hi chalega, abhi kuchh bologe to Pakistani kehake marne lagenge" (what to do, this will go on like this only, if you object to these things they will attack you and call you a Pakistani). It took more than 12 hrs to clear that jam and then someone told me that there will be 'bharat milaap' functions by different villages on different days and that's the moment I remembered the slogan "mera bharat mahan', really these people deserve round of applause for tolerating such plain stupidity with so much grace and patience. I salute their patience but also feel sad about their compulsion to tolerate such nonsense on regular basis.

I hope things change for good in this amazing place. I love people of this state they are really good, kindhearted and very welcoming. They definitely deserve better infrastructure and opportunities than what they are getting now. They need more job opportunities as youth of this state is forced to move out of village and even out of state in search of better job opportunities. There is lot of work which needs to be done and it can be only done with honest intentions and strong political will which seems to be lacking in all parties which ruled this state so far. People here have very huge expectations from this new government and its head (Mr. Narendra Modi). Many people from this state seem to be in love with Mr. Modi as they don’t want to hear any word against him, I hope he fulfills their huge expectations and brings that change in these people’s lives. Mr. Modi has a power and all resources which are required to bring that change. He cannot offer any excuse for failure to do this, it will be a huge betrayal if he doesn't do that. These people are used to these types of betrayals but I hope M.r Modi changes that trend and fulfills his promises. Next time when I visit this place again I really hope to see some dramatic changes.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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