Tuesday, January 11, 2011

P.M.ji, Zara Lift Kara de...!

Why are we frothing at the mouth over Ganguly's exclusion from an entertainment event ( can't really call the IPL a sporting event!). If it's only about the money.... honey, he's got tons of it. If it's about performance, well.... his track record speaks for itself. Even so, Ganguly's 'Dadagiri' days aren't over.... so his fans can dry their tears and let the IPL tamasha begin.
This appeared on sunday. Ironically, the very next day there was a horrific elevator crash at a building site in Mumbai - an avoidable accident in which six people were killed when the makeshift lift plunged 21 floors. Ketan Shah, a director of 'Success Builders' ( irony!) was arrested. There are thousands of lifts that are not safe in this city. And only 16 government appointed lift supervisors to inspect them. What do you expect??

Manmohanji…. Zara Lift Kara De…?

I was stuck in an elevator last week. Believe me, it wasn’t the best way to bring in the new year or start a brand new decade. While I was fuming away in the gleaming aluminium box, an untrained, uneducated elevator attendant struggled with the emergency panel and shouted into a phone. Clearly, nobody had a clue as to what to do next. I was beginning to panic as the attendant started punching buttons and switches at random in a crazy hit-and-miss game. He even tried to pry open the heavy doors manually , ignoring my protests. There was one other person in the elevator who seemed calm and collected as he offered his own suggestions. I demanded a bit too aggressively, “ Are you an engineer?” The guy had a musical instrument with him, so it was a loaded question. Nope, he admitted, as he shook his head and smiled reassuringly. That smile was a good move - I found myself smiling , too. By now the elevator man had finished punching all the buttons and turning various switches on and off. He’d also attempted a few kicks and shoves to browbeat the obstinate door into opening. Nada! We were still stuck! Then, as if by magic the elevator started to move… but the panel didn’t indicate a thing. Were we headed up or down? Top most floor or the basement? Zilch. My co-trapee ( Ha! I like that word), remained impassive even as I started to hyper ventilate. Perhaps music would help? I half- expected him to remove the guitar from its case and start strumming. Abruptly,the elevator stopped by itself. We could have reached heaven, for all I knew. The doors were still shut. And the attendant was muttering it wasn’t his fault – the elevator was old and badly maintained. It had been acting up…. but did anybody listen to him? A few minutes later the doors were forced open by an irate supervisor. We were indeed on the top floor and the supervisor was very cross. Why? Just! He yelled at the cowering attendant, while the musician continued to watch the hysterical proceedings stoically. By this point I was agitatedly asking stupid questions like, “ What if the elevator had crashed all the way to the pit from the 25th floor?” The musician patiently explained that was an unlikely scenario since modern elevators came equipped with breaks on every floor, plus several checks and balances in order to prevent such mishaps. In my head I was saying nastily, “ Yeah. Right. You aren’t even an engineer … you should know!” Wicked of me. Very wicked.
Later, once I had recovered sufficiently, ‘The Stalled Elevator’ somehow made me think of India.It became an appropriate symbol, an apt metaphor.India is a stalled elevator at the moment – stuck in a tight spot. Stuck between floors. No immediate solutions in sight. No emergency services to pull it out of the mess and get it going efficiently. Too many ‘experts’ offering uninformed advice. Too many hitches and glitches preventing the country from making it to the top floor smoothly. Too many inefficient ‘supervisors’ goofing up and blaming poor attendants. Nobody willing to take the rap, own up, assume responsibility. The India Elevator can come crashing down if we don’t wake up and take charge. Too many of us are like the mild mannered, well meaning musician who patiently waited for a ‘solution’. The rest of us remain fatalistic, hoping for a miracle that is not happening. If the building society in which the elevator malfunctioned, had had a better leader, perhaps this unfortunate incident would not have taken place. The lifts would have operated safely and been regularly serviced. There would have been a tabled report to that effect shared transparently with society members ( who, after all, are the real stake holders). Residents would have shown more confidence during emergencies knowing that procedures were being scrupulously followed. With more accountability in place, charges of negligence or corruption would not have surfaced periodically. Had those elevator attendants been paid better, trained better and treated better, the quality of service would have been better . Had the supervisors been thoroughly screened and appointed on the basis of the right qualifications and not for being second cousins of the contractor’s uncle, the approach to issues concerning building maintenence would have been more rigorous. And had residents themselves been more pro-active , the quality of life in this complex would have been significantly superior. By sacking the elevator attendant, cutting his meager salary, punishing or penalizing the supervisor, nothing will be achieved. The real culprits reside elsewhere. The onus of running the place honestly and competently rests with them. So long as they sleep easy in their ivory towers, untouched by the frustrated lives of those who have elected them in the first place, nothing will change. The elevator will keep getting stuck between floors. And someday, a few lives may be lost on account of its dilapidated condition. Till such a tipping point is reached, we will continue to grit our teeth, grin and bear it.
As I write this, there are helicopters buzzing over Mumbai. The prime minister is visiting. The city is on high alert ( there are hardly any days when it isn’t). Manmohan Singh will get the usual air- brushed view of Mumbai and fly off believing ‘aaal eeez well.’ Guess what, Prime minister? I have news for you. This ‘elevator’ we call India, needs to be junked and replaced. We’ve run out of both - resources and excuses. What we desperately need is not just a brand new elevator but a brand new leader to run the show.
To quote Led Zeppelin : They talk of days for which they sit and wait… when all will be revealed.”
Will it????


चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

`India is a stalled elevator at the moment – stuck in a tight spot. '

Janata is stuck... while netas fill their coffins[no, no, coffers:)]

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Shounak said...

Yes mam what we need is,is a leader and not an old man with immense educational qualification..we don't need "Copy Book" leaders,the need of the hour is a Proactive leader,young and dynamic...

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Elle Woods said...

Led Zepplin. really ?? :D

I feel like posting it to the PM ji !!
Very well put :)

obssesor said...

Love the post.

Anonymous said...


There a thousand ways of getting injured, killed or maimed for life here in Mumbai.
The moment one leaves the confines of one's house/home, one has to be on the look out. You have to literally pray.

Traffic, vehicles coming from left right and center, yes even on the wrong side of the road. Bikes even on pavements. If one protests, they look at you as if you have come from Mars.
Traffic lights be dammed. They are only a symbol.
Driving with the mobile balanced between the shoulder and ear.

Trees, branches falling all over the place. Open trenches/drains, without any fencing.
Spikes protruding out from the road. A real death trap for motorists and motor bikes.

Welding flux, spray painting of vehicles in the open. A big haphazard for eyes and chest.

Grinding/polishing glass, marble on the footpath, at times in some places even on the road.

Hot food being prepared on the road, against the SC orders.
The gas cylinders kept in precarious positions.....

There are umpteen examples of blatant disregard for the laws and for the next person's safety.

Action is only taken after an accident/mishap takes place. The person who losses his/her life, limb suffers, while the culprit is let off on bail.....
Why can't we have a preventive is better than cure program, to minimize the loss of life and limb. Or are we not worried as we have over a billion and still growing population.



Satish Ashtaputre said...

Yes;very correct indeed!We need a brand new elevator & new leader to control it.With due regards to our P.M.Dr.Manmohan Singh;I feel he should call it a day now.Though he is good economist; he is finding it difficult to cope up with d complexities of modern age communication technologies like 2G,3G,4G et al.And on top of it political compulsions of coalition.Recently I had been to Bangkok & after seeing their 4 years old SUVARNABHUMI International airport,the open area around it and vast roads,flyovers connecting it to d main city;I obviously started comparing it with our SAHAR airport & its surroundings(slums).As I understand Thailand is also a developing country like India but look at their cleanliness! At every tourist spot;there were clean toilets with abundant water;No litter.And here in Mumbai;things r before all of us.How can v aspire 2 become a developed nation in this way?

Manish'sMom said...

Hahaha! As usual you hit the nail on the head!Love you Shobhaaji.....for your views and the way you put things across! Cheers!

Shan said...

Oh..God save India!

Even thinkers like you believe that one day we will have to get a new leader, a good one to take us out of this rigmarole! How sad!?

I remember how Nehru ridiculed the people who prayed and hid themselves in the Krishna temple when Ghazni raided Somnath temple and how he killed the people and destroyed the temple, despite the presence of God!

There need to be a concerted effort from the people to get themselves out of this imbroglio. There should be a strong non-political social lobby that works for the good of the people. I would request you to consider joining a group like India Tax Payer (http://www.indiataxpayer.org) to promote the cause of the tax payer and every one of us is a tax payer.

If the government collects and spends tax monies appropriately that means they are all doing their job properly.

Do check it out.


Radhika Gupta said...

what an apt and unsual comparision!! i completely with all the similarities in a stuck elevator and India highlighted by you...

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