Asche Bochor Uber Hobe – The Malaise of a ‘Chalta Hai’ Country

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The ban on uber was a tad surprising but a not altogether unexpected move. We are infamous for knee jerk reactions. All the metal detectors that are installed after every bomb blast. All the dustbins that are emptied sometime on crowded roads raising a stink if not help nab the culprit. All the sand bags that are positioned in front of hotels after gun men storm them. All buses are installed with CCTVs after a woman is brutalized in one of them and left to die. Of course things soon return to normal and are attributed to our enormous resilience. The metal detectors stop working, the dustbins overflow with filth and a bomb may get thrown in with nobody noticing, the police posted on the sandbags look inadequately armed because obviously the funding can be better used elsewhere. And the CCTVs are vandalized leaving women at the mercy of lecherous men. With the collective rise of hashtag activism and the crowd conscience, the kneejerk reactions have become stronger. Add to it the myth of a strong government that desperately needs substantiation. So while Uber may have escaped with a rap on the knuckles earlier, it is now banned. Questions of course remain. Will the government also ban several other less famous taxi operators who flout as many if not more rules as Uber? Will it crack down on the unholy nexus of touts , police and travel officials which routinely dole out fake licenses, character certificates etc? Will the government also show a strong backbone in dealing with global giants who carelessly flout all norms in our third world country – a KFC for eg selling rice with artificial colours not suitable for consumption? Will the government ensure that serial offenders such as Shiv Kumar Yadav are properly tagged and not just let to wander at abandon? We know the answers. As soon as the media attention on this one wanes, and that also we are told this day is controlled depending who is benefiting and who is paying the price for the attention, things will return to normal. And we will have sickening tributes to our strength, our courage, our resilience. Spare us those tributes. Because what you call strength is the weakness of a country which has long ago stopped believing in fairness and justice, what you call resilience is our collective helplessness, what manifests as courage is a false bravado hiding each of our fears of being killed, maimed, raped by a callous system. The country of course goes on propped by a false sense of pride in our ‘jugaad’, in our ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude. For such a country symptomatic reactions such as banning Uber is enough. Beyond that it depends on your skills or rather your luck on how suited you are to survive the jungle. This makes me think of an example in a slightly different context. If you have been in Bengal during a Durga Puja, you would have invariably joined in the optimistic ‘Asche bochor abar hobe’ renditions on Dasami or the immersion day. In a chalta hai country that same refrain plays in my mind with a drastically opposite effect, a kind of numb, cold fear. For I know for sure the rape in a taxi or a bus or a building will happen again, that freak poisoning of a dozen women in a hospital will happen again, the children will die again, the terrorists will come again. The only difference is tomorrow it may be me. Die another day.

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One response »

  1. Very very pointed, pertinent. Well written Rimjhim.

    ….. Roy

    (Sent from my Sony Xperia Z3™ smartphone, please excuse my brevity)

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