It was quite shocking when I opened the news paper yesterday. A teenager was killed by the Delhi Police (DP) because he was riding pillion with a stunt biker. What was shocking was that DP appointed 300 policemen to check the stunt biker, in a scenario where DP blames the lack of officials for the increasing crime rates in the city.
These bikers are a nuisance just because they don’t belong to any institution and it is shocking to see that in 2011 on the very spot of India gate, govt. approved the F1 show, where they PAID stunt bikers to perform???? So it is ok to do all the stunts if you are paid but it is a heinous crime if you do it individually, to an extent that it is punishable by death without a trial. I am in no way defending the act of doing stunts on bikes, but pointing out at the state of public-ness of our so called public spaces.
This rises a fundamental question what is the public space for, who is it for? India gate situated in New Delhi is the central core of the city where only 1% of its residents live. A zone with walled bungalows for which system provides heritage protection. To keep the area intact, it is on face stated as public, but there is nothing public about it. By December the defence ministry starts putting up barricades for the Republic Day parade…. So basically wall people off for the armaments to celebrate democracy….!!!
Recently Ryan and Thomas went to Turkey, at a time when protests were on to preserve their public spaces. It is quite depressing to compare the situation, Indians still are blinded by the institutional hegemony where in there is no public space in its true sense. At least New Delhi is still colonial, where you can be stopped anywhere, where you can’t even have peace protest, where you can be killed and no one will be held responsible…
I don’t know what has changed when British were ruling us and we were slaves, at least we would feel honoured to resist…. This reminds me of a passage from Hind Swaraj by Mahatma Gandhi –
“Editor: …… Why do you want to drive away the English?
Reader: Because India has become impoverished by their Government. They take away our money from year to year. The most important posts are reserved for themselves. We are kept in a state of slavery. They behave insolently towards us and disregard our feelings.
Editor: If they do not take our money away, become gentle, and give us responsible posts, would you still consider their presence to be harmful?
Reader: That question is useless. It is similar to the question whether there is any harm in associating with a tiger if he changes his nature. Such a question is sheer waste of time. When a tiger changes his nature, Englishmen will change theirs. This is not possible, and to believe it to be possible is contrary to human experience.
Editor: Supposing we get Self-Government similar to what the Canadians and the South Africans have, will it be good enough?
Reader: That question also is useless. We may get it when we have the same powers; we shall then hoist our own flag. As is Japan, so must India be. We must own our navy, our army, and we must have our own splendour, and then will India’s voice ring through the world.
Editor: You have drawn the picture well. In effect it means this; that we want English rule without the Englishman. You want the tiger’s nature, but not the tiger; that is to say, you would make India English. And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englistan. This is not the Swaraj that I want.”