Friday, January 23, 2009

Slumdog and Slumbai

It had to happen again.

Some white guys threw a bone in the direction of something indian (i am referring to slumdog millionaire, the movie), and people went into raptures about how the west is 'waking up to india'.

Most people i spoke to called slumdog millionaire a "triumph of the spirit over hardship" or "the never say die mumbai spirit" or something similar and seemingly inspirational.

Friends and colleagues gushed about how the fellow in the movie rose despite the deprivations of the slums and having to dive into human faeces to win some international dole-fest.

Cliches and prejudices aside (brilliantly articulated here), they are to be expected, it is the misplaced joy of the average mumbaikar that is disturbing: not one person found the presence and the continued growth of slums troubling anymore.

Not one person.

The slum -- and the urban planning failure it represents -- is the pink elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about. Just like the pink elephant of islamic terrorism.

It is now part of us, never to be sought to be removed, merely to be accepted and taken in our stride.

However, this pattern of ignore and move on has been going on. For 60 years, year after year (or election after election) we the people of mumbai have consistently voted NOT to fix things, preferring the soporific of rice at 2 kgs (for the masses) or the "wonderful mumbai spirit" (for the chattering classes) to real, painstaking change.

Mumbai is now a city without a collective objective and a collective aspiration.
A city without a future.

Over at Shadow Warrior, Rajeev points out how this is also visible among hindus at the national level. Everyone has a plan for our decimation. We don't even know that we're being hunted.