I am talking to you Delhi, the glorious capital city of India. You are also a State and take no less pride in that. You are center of power and the seat of the whole apparatus of two governments. Your rightful arrogance comes from the richness of heritage and architecture that you are endowed with: numerous historic forts, the Parliament building, India Gate, Old Delhi, the posh Panchsheel, Diplomatic Enclave, Lodhi Garden, the Red Fort and the Connaught Place.
I can go on and on about your beauties but only too recently you showed me a different face of yours, one too unbecoming of a global city as you. I thought you will treat your inhabitants better.
Recently, I had to get my driving license. Despite the righteous advices and my own conscience, I hired an agent – a tout, a palm greaser, an agent of corruption. Why? Because, I am scared of being chased around by officials, I don’t fancy pushed and shoved in lines and don’t fancy the heroic angst of the movie heroes from the angry Eighties. And, mostly because I had failed to complete the process twice before on my own. I did not have the patience.
Anyway, it seems the rules are being implemented now. Somewhat better, that is. Now, you can’t just pay and get them sitting at home. So, I had to visit the RTO office. Twice. I will skip the details of the process and get to the point. The RTO sucks, big time.
You see, common folk like me don’t get to enter the parliament, don’t sit in ministries or make policies. We evidence the government on the roads through traffic cops, in hospitals, railway booking counters, offices of licensing authorities, passport offices, post offices and MTNL’s bill payment ques. This is where we see the government in action and it would seem logical this will be on top of every ministry’s mind.
But governments are different from people. They don’t dress up when they go out to meet people. They don’t serve a cool glass of water to visitors, they serve you this:
In my office, during one of the recruitment drives, we wanted to increase the joining rate. We made quite a few small changes. One of the most important ones was to place packaged glasses of water in the test room, chilled and restocked all through the day. If a small set up can think of that, don’t tell me it never stuck any of you to do better than this:
Delhi government, you charge me a fortune for parking, tax me when I watch a movie and double my water bills. But please have the courtesy to offer me a chair when I come to you. Don’t push me into dark corridors that resemble concentration camps and smell of urine. And, don’t deny it. I have got proof.
Please clean up your stairs, it is your home. We are your guests.
I don’t ask too much from you. Just treat me the way civil people are treated. I am not a criminal, I am not an illegal immigrant. I was born in this land, I pay my taxes and I praise you in front of outsiders. But please don’t take me for granted.
I have no more to say. I know you are not a poor cousin of mine. You have the money, but not the heart. May be, something is wrong with me. It’s not for nothing that they call me a third world citizen. It must be my fault… I elected you.