Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The other side of UP/India

Overall, the visit to Kumbh2013 was a very good one. The arrangements were quite good and the Kumbh itself seemed to have things in place quite well. But there is another side as well.

For one, the roads were really narrow - considering the kind of traffic they take, clearly the Lucknow-Allahabad route deserves a two laned road. Most of the roads were good overall, perhaps repaired to take the Kumbh traffic. Signage could be better as well in general, though the people were the most helpful.

Every bus has atleast 'Journalist' seat. The Volvos have a MP/MLA seat. And there are people who try to make money off you - like Pandey at the Allahabad bus station. As we waited at the hotel, comes a man, asking if the district magistrate had called and gets a room immediately with the note on the register saying ' paise nahi lena' written next to it. While, we, as weary travellers were made to wait for a good time before anything resembling a room came our way.

The Kumbh camps seem to have a hierarchy. There are camps by the Army, the Income Tax, the High court and various other government departments. And each of these, probably exist to service those who have the clout to get there - and I am sure a little fixing on the way as well.

And then there was some official escorted by 4 CRPF Jawans (hats off to you to enduring such a skunk) who sat around ordering them about, while they ordered food for him, cleared the tables, and boosted his ego while he maintained a sour face throughout. Sad that people have to undergo humiliation like this each day.

Why does obsequiousness have to be part of bureaucratic culture? The residues of the mai-baap culture can clearly be seen around. We may spout socialism, but all this only serves to remind us that much of socialism is like The Animal Farm by George Orwell.

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