Monday, January 24, 2011

The real meaning of 'Adarsh'....

I spent three days in Delhi and am still reeling. It truly is another country with an entirely different culture. But what the hell - at least the food is good. Better than in any other Indian city - more varied and definitely more adventurous. I went back to Bengali Market to check on the chaats and am happy to report the papdi chaat was outstanding with generous slivers of adrak and the unique masala that has drawn crowds for over forty years. There was 'gajak' and there was 'petha' too.... and sarson da saag with makki di roti. But I was with my health freak daughter Anandita who refused to let me gorge. Both of us enjoyed lunch at the smart and casual Smokehouse Deli , where we were amused to see dozens of Ladies- who- lunch, wearing knee high boots, furs, hats... like they were braving an astonishingly chilly winter in Paris! The dinner menu at the Oberoi Maiden's in Old Delhi was charmingly purana era - perhaps the proximity to the Purana Qila rubbed off on the chefs. The sushi at 360 Degrees ( considered Delhi's premier venue for power lunches) was soggy and disappointing, but the very pricey black cod made up for it.

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Here's my take on the scum behind the scam....

What does ‘Adarsh’ really mean?

Around seven years ago, when my two older children were that much younger, they had to deal with a situation I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. It involved a small army of hired goons sent by an unscrupulous builder to oust them from their ancestral home. It was their aged grandmother who had to face this mob by herself as they made themselves comfortable in her living room and asked for the television set to be switched on. They also informed her casually that this was now their home and they were there to stay. She was a lady with remarkable reserves of fortitude and did not panic for a minute , even when these strangers spread out their beddings, opened tiffin boxes and settled in for the night. I was out of the country at the time. There is just so much one can achieve over frantic telephone calls to the local police station, the municipal guys of that ward, the MLA or the M.P. elected to represent the interests of his constituency. It was evident from the buck passing and evasive responses I encountered that almost everyone was deep in it – on the take - in one way or the other Those desperately traumatic 48 hours of the children being bull dozed and threatened by the builder and asked to vacate or else, shall never be forgotten . Does this story have a happy ending? Ummm. Not really. Left with few options, the family had to accept a lousy settlement and move out with dignity. Too much was at stake – especially an old lady’s precarious health. We were advised to fight the goons with goons, and get some influential ‘higher ups’ to intervene. None of that happened, mainly because the builder’s reach went all the way to the top! And a vastly admired heritage property was unceremoniously pulled down to be replaced by an entirely illegal shopping centre with escalators that open out to an overcrowded street in central Mumbai. So many years later, the builder is in trouble for cheating, forgery and deception. Will anything happen to the villain? No chance. Will the hideous shopping complex be demolished? Are you kidding? This is Mumbai. This is where an ‘Adarsh’ happens. With absolute impunity. What’s a crumbling heritage building worth multiple crores that can be arbitrarily vacated, torn down and rebuilt for several more?
Which brings me to ‘Adarsh’ and the current debate about demolishing the notorious structure. Pretty pointless, don’t you think? Demolish it just to show the world ‘action is being taken’? And then what? If ‘Adarsh’ does indeed come crashing down within seconds, using the ‘implosion technique’ ( wow! Aren’t we impressed?), what purpose will it serve other than to create headlines and get our spiffily dressed minister for Environment and Forests to preen some more on camera and pat himself on the back for showing everybody he means business. Frankly, I don’t see the demolition happening (CRZ issues be damned). Not in the near future, perhaps never. There are at least five buildings in the same area that are disputed structures. These have been around for decades – ghostly and abandoned, with no decision in sight. Like ‘Adarsh’ now, Mumbai had a ‘Pratibha’ , too. Another high profile residential tower that became the focus of a nasty battle. ‘Pratibha’ is still there – we have stopped bothering about its future. Just as we’ll forget ‘Adarsh’ after a couple of months. That’s how it goes. ‘Adarsh’ is considered ‘hot’ by the media. It may lose it’s ‘hotness’ quotient if a bigger scam comes up. And as has been pointed out by various legal luminaries, where does this ‘Adarsh’ imbroglio end and another begin? There are hundreds of similar scandals in the city of Mumbai alone. Each time one turns around to gasp at yet another spectacular construction ( Hello! Donald Trump. Welcome to Mumbai)) selling at an astronomical price, the unanswered questions remain the same – who cleared the project? For how much? If one were to probe a little, nearly every new high rise has irregularities galore. Serious lapses that can endanger the lives of occupants. But who bothers with paper work that has no meaning in the first place? Whose signatures are on those files?Surprise! Surprise! Signatures of the very same bureaucrats responsible for okaying ‘Adarsh’ . If today a Lt.Col R.K. Singh is asking why he, a legitimate owner of a flat in Adarsh is being penalized for the wrong doings of others, what response can he expect? This person is paying rent, plus repaying EMIs on the loan he’d taken to buy that precious flat. Can he demand compensation – if so, from whom? If Jairam Ramesh has his way, Singh’s dream home could soon be rubble. Singh had fought the Kargil war in the Drass sector and paid a substantial amount to acquire the flat. As had Commander Rajiv Pilo, who was part of the naval force at Kochi during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.His life savings are invested in an ‘Adarsh’ flat.Will he get his money back?
It would appear there are no honest builders left in Mumbai.The food chain in this highly lucrative business is very inclusive – and everybody ‘eats money’ from the lowly clerk to the mighty neta. Land is getting snapped up faster than lingerie at a Victoria’s Secret sale. The shadowy promoters are known to all, but everybody feigns instant amnesia. And God help us, but the CBI has been entrusted with cracking the ‘Adarsh’ case and we know its dismal success rate only too well. If the CBI sleuths are still searching for Aarushi’s killer, do we really expect them to nail those behind the ‘Adarsh’ scandal? Dream on!
‘Adarsh’ should stay. There is rich irony in both its name and continued existence. Let ‘Adarsh’ be converted into a Museum of Corrupt Practices. It could become a tourist attraction . … like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A towering monument that commemorates national shame. Who knows, it may even make its money back through ticket sales for the venal Babus who built it.
Badhiya hai!!

11 comments:

Neha said...

"....and everybody ‘eats money’ from the lowly clerk to the mighty neta."

How true! Saturday night, I witnessed a drunken brawl between some young men who were busy bashing each other. The police was nowhere in sight. Somehow we got out car through the mess and saw some policemen standing calmly just around the turn! All the 'adarsh' talk that goes around!

SEPO said...

Delhi food rocks! Nothing can ever beat the street food!

as for the article, i read it in TOI, AND LOVED IT!

N said...

Shobhaji:

Oberoi Maidens is close the Red Fort..

Not Purana Qila - as mentioned..

Somehow you goof up with names when you write about Delhi...

:)

anamika said...

Delhi girls are strainge.. some of them will stocked up with stylush courts and furrs and other will rome aorund in sleevless tops ...they are after all Delhi girls;)

and i read this article of yurs and i agree to you :)

Satish Ashtaputre said...

Madam, I have gone thru' d similar trauma as mentioned by u ; 4-6 years ago. In such situations; one has a to fight a lonely battle. In our case; the villain was society secretary & committee members. They took help of local corporator to terrorise us by closing water supply in the complex , by indulging in illegal strike. Of course; the local police was mute spectator to all this & on top of it; we were advised by our advocate to give a supari & teach a lesson to those rascals involved in the tamasha.. Tell me Madam, for a educated person who goes according to laws & legislations; is it not shocking & unacceptable? How do we fight this menace? Eunuchs r sitting in parliament.As I mentioned in last weeks Loksatta ; there are hundreds if not thousands of ADARSHs in Mumbai city. What about them?

cmpershad said...

` I went back to Bengali Market ...'

What about Bengali phish.... the fish that talks bengali :)

Madhu said...

If someone as influential as you can find hardly any way out, imagine what is happening with us :(

Archana Kapoor Nagpal said...

Delhi is strange but thats where the beauty of the city lies. So many problems/issues but yes still so much determined to face more:)

Yogesh Balaine said...

AAll is Well. AAll is Well. AAll is Well. That was then. India was not a superpower 7 years ago. But times have changed for the good it seems. Now we have the greatest cricketers and movie stars in the world making India truly the most powerful nation in the world. All these sick things are too small compared to the glory we are basking in today. Maybe if your familiy had watched enough cricket or movies then, good amount of pain and trauma could have been avoided. But we all learn through miskakes. Never mind. We need to take it in our stride and should not rest till we have about a lakh IPL teams playing 24*7*365. And the movies too. Need to ensure at least a lakh movies get released every week. You know Shobhaa, what I mean. Yes, you guessed it right. Take a Chill Pill.

maglomaniac said...

Today's post had been a bull's eye.And your steps for improvement carry the same satirical no bullshit that Jug had wrote today on rising onion prices.
Very much resonate with your opinion Shobha.
Being republic day I too penned down something.Here it goes:

http://maglomaniacs-chaos.blogspot.com/2011/01/tiranga.html

~Harsha

obssesor said...

Delhi is heady.