All of which sets off several thoughts in my mind. How is the CM making the city a better place to live? By destroying the homes of -- last I heard -- nearly half a million people. That is, by making it harder for half a million residents of this city to live their lives. For that half million, clearly, Deshmukh's efforts have not turned Bombay into a better place to live.
So are we to believe that even with this damage to so many lives, Bombay is somehow, taken in aggregate, a better place to live?
And related to that: a better place to live for whom? Over half of my city -- that's right -- lives in slums and on the streets. Why shouldn't Deshmukh be making this a better place to live for all its residents, including that 50-plus per cent? Or put it this way: suppose some cellphone toting slum resident starts up a SMS campaign suggesting that Deshmukh make this a better place to live by demolishing blocks of flats in the city. Would you support that? Would Tandon? Why or why not? Logically, how is it in any way different from Tandon's SMS campaign? Taking numbers alone, you might even find that it would get greater support than Tandon's. Then which campaign should prevail?
And that defecation. Seventy per cent of superpower-aspirant 21st Century India lacks access to sanitation. Meaning seven of every ten Indians must use the side of the road, railway tracks, rocks at low tide and so forth, to defecate. Half of those, meaning the women, wake before dawn every day just so they can hold on to some little bit of privacy. (I smacked up against this reality some years ago when I walked through a Madhya Pradesh village one dark pre-dawn. A series of embarrassed womanly giggles on either side of me -- too dark to see the women -- told me where I was and what I was doing).
What happens when you hold Tandon's distaste for defecation near her building up to the mirror formed by that seventy per cent?
Besides, consider this. Every morning, I walk my son to school through the leafy lanes of the suburb where we live. In the mornings, those lanes are veritable obstacle courses. Lumps of shit lie everywhere. But not human shit. They are courtesy the dogs who live in the buildings around us. Some of those buildings even house film stars, like Tandon herself.
We are OK with our own dogs going out to take a dump and leaving the results on our streets. But we are not OK with humans doing so; in fact, such humans must be driven out and their homes destroyed.
OK, got that.
I suggested this in a comment somewhere that I am too lazy to dig up. Here are two suggestions to tackle the proliferation of slums. I offer them as an alternative to such things as banning the entry of "outsiders" into Bombay, or to declaring all slum housing built after January 1 1995 illegal, or to demolishing homes by the thousand. Will anyone take them up?
- Declare all babies born after January 1 1995 illegal, and prohibit any further production of babies in Bombay. Given that natural growth -- babies -- now constitutes better than 75 per cent of the growth of the city, this is a far more effective way of curbing the growth of Bombay than preventing "outsiders" from coming in. Once this ban takes effect, growth will quickly slow down and stop altogether, and we will eventually have no slums.
- Declare all jobs created after January 1 1995 illegal, and ban any further creation of jobs in Bombay. Given that it is jobs and opportunity that attract people to this city, this will quickly put a halt to the "outsiders" coming here. Again, this will mean that we will eventually have no more slums.
Nobody to take these up? Well, is there someone who can explain to me why these steps are logically any different from demolishing slum houses?