Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Jal Seva - Kripya jyada paani na peeyen

Water - which was once considered free. Its literally a traded commodity in the vast majority of dry Gujarat lands. Plastic pouches of warm water are available for a rupee at most pan shops and general stores. I admit life is still easier for people like us who get limited quantity of water delivered to our homes. There are people who travel miles with drums in their tractors or jeeps to get a fill of water. There are tribal regions too in the dry lands. Not very different from the tribals who live on the banks of the Narmada.

I doubt the credentials of Narmada Bachao Andolan. The way they have protested and put forward their points reveals that they have other agendas on their mind. Their aim was/is to stop the dam project altogether. First they cited environmental reasons for opposing the dam, and the vegetation that would be destroyed. The Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd had carried out replantation activities but still NBA could not see reason. Then came the argument regarding siltation. And now its about the rehabilitation. The NBA seems to be looking for reasons to protest. Of course, the dam will have its advantages and disadvantages like most things in the world. You dont stop using cellphones because of its disadvantages.

As far as I know, the rehab process is going on. It has not stopped. Now the rehab cannot be done just overnight. It takes time, given the way governments work. There are going to be complications. Does that mean NBA should get the dam construction stopped. Why dont they genuinely concentrate on rehab rather than meddling with the dam project. The way NBA is projecting its lies, it would appear that no rehab has been done. As earlier, it tried to project that no replantations have been done.

Now, even the state Congress protested against NBA and Aamir Khan. Isnt congress supposed to be a liberal/secular/progressive/ party. Most pseudo-liberals and pseudo-seculars favour the congress, given that Sonia has carefully cultivated an image of a sacrificing leader. Why are even the congress against the NBA then. I think even the state congress sees it as an attempt to hijack progress.

Also, the protest against the dam has been linked to Narendra Modi subtly. Now now wait a min, how is Narendra Modi, whether you like him or not is a different matter, related to the dam project. Its not his brainchild. How is the fact that narendra modi hate is linked to the anti-dam protests. Of course, you defeated the very purpose. You wanted to corner modi by stopping the dam by using NBA as a front, but it backfired. Even the state congress is united behind modi now. So who stands to gain. Its like the jaya bacchan disqualification case backfired on the congress and the great gandhian leader sonia matajee. Whether narendra modi or chiman patel is the CM of gujarat, dam construction is another thing altogether. By painting the people of Gujarat as villains, the media is alienating Gujarat kee janata, and I dont think this is good in the long run.

Whether intentional or not, the analogy of the media and the liberal rabble rousers is this - Riots took place in Gujarat. Lot of Muslims were killed (doesnt matter that equal number of Hindus were also killed in reality). People of Gujarat are bigoted fundamentalists. Ignore them and paint them as villains. Always downplay or refute the good work done, highlight the bad ones. Like the Ishrat Jahan case, where a female terrorist was gunned down by Gujarat police, media was quick to attack Modi and play "all people of gujarat are fundamentalists". When it was proven true, no word from the media. Ok, nobody is perfect. Modi has his faults. I am not his supporter. But to brand every action of his as communal or wrong is fundamentalism is not correct. In fact, mata soniaji fired some economist who rated Gujarat as first in economy. The report of the sarkari committee he headed was withdrawn. Now that was not an insult to Modi as dimwitted sonia and congress thought it would be, it was an insult to the entrepreneurs of Gujarat, to the hard working people who made it happen. It seems that media takes it for granted as the universal truth - all people in gujarat are modi supporters. Well, I am not, in fact I dont support any of our dhoti walas.

Another fact which I was told by a mechanical engineer from the SSNL. The imported kaplan turbines (these are turbines that resemble aircraft propellors the other way round, instead of using motion to create air flow, they use water flow to generate motion) were kept for quite some number of years without putting them to use. These turbines are delicate. Even a dent of a millimeter on the blades or axle or the bearings can imbalance them and break the turbines at high speeds. It cost crores of rupees just to maintain them in the as-is condition. Who is responsible for such wanton misuse of taxpayers money.

Regarding my tirade against Aamir Khan (hasnt he spawned a lovechild with some british actress and another british poet and left his wife for a younger woman), he is using his popularity to lend support to a cause where the right and wrong are not clearly defined. Rehabilitation of displaced villagers is a must, just like the dam is. But by taking sides, he is lending weight to one side, while the other side is not totally wrong. He seems to be taking his social responsibility image too seriously. Like in Rang de basanti, its not really known whether the defense minister is actually responsible or not, or whether anupam kher was responsible or not, aamir khan kills both. Similarly, without knowing both sides of the story (or even one side of the story properly), he blindly rushes ahead to do *what he thinks* is right. It would have been proper for him to have lent support to Jessica Laal case, since here the position of the two sides is clear. One is right, and the other is wrong. In the narmada case, both sides have valid points, and by giving credence to one side, he is twisting the logic of the argument. A public outcry will occur, media will generate unnecessary hype, and the right voices of the other side will be suppressed.

We often see images of Kutch and Saurashtra on TV. Colourful sunburnt inhabitants playing garba, and wearing large turbans. Women walking across the dry lands with pots of water on their heads. Flat lands where you can see for miles. An occasional tree in the vast sparsely populated expanse. A place where the biggest worry of the people is - will it rain good this year? Will I get to drink water tomorrow? How much should I keep aside for buying water? Yes, its that bad, I have travelled these places quite a lot and seen it first hand. Come summer, and there are news about people dying of sunstroke. Of course, the media does not report it, it has to sell copies. And yes, Medha Patkar and Aamir khan are glamourous, people dying for water isnt. Will aamir khan visit the people of these places and speak for those million people, the way he did for 18000 displaced villagers.

Links if you are interested further to explore the other side -


Blogger Deepak Jeswal said...

I am not too well versed in this to really comment properly, but u hv devoted three posts on this, shud hv some weight. Two pts that crossed my mind:

a) Medha Patkar and NBA are synonyms now; if this issue is solved, what will be her future? Maybe that keeps her busy in thinking of fresh reasons to oppose!

b) Ur comments on Aamir Khan - relieved to see that someone else also realises he is a mediocre actor! I thought I was the only one.

April 19, 2006 7:20 AM  
Blogger In The Shadows said...

@Deepak -
I agree. See many of his movies like - Hum hai raahi pyar ke , Sarfarosh, etc. I dont watch much movies recently so cannot comment on the recent ones. His acting seems kiddish. He sometimes seems funny in serious scenes. If analyzed without the hype surrounding him, he is somewhat below average.

But he has good marketing and "script-smelling" skills. He made himself scarce in the market after a few hits, and chooses movie scripts carefully. He has carefully cultivated an image of a smart and sensible person, which he is not.

He seems to be a bigger womanizer than Salman khan which nobody noticed. two lovechilds from extra marital affairs , divorced his wife and got another younger woman with whom he had another EMA.

April 20, 2006 12:28 AM  

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