The Delhi Shock


I was on family vacation last week at New Delhi, the capital city of India.

The flight from Mumbai was delayed by an hour as Delhi had heavy fog (this is the last week of December, and intense fog was to be expected in January/February), so we arrived a bit late into Delhi – that was fine, no issue there.

What surprised us most was the complete lock-down of the central part of Delhi, due to the protests against the gang rape victim. It appeared to me that the government was running scared. There was no senior politician or minister or even bureaucrat, interacting with the protesters.

The government obviously wanted to avoid a show down with the protesters, but it failed. There was a show down, and many protesters were physically hurt. A policeman died on duty. The government earned a bad name for itself in the process.

And, the result ?

The government shut down the central parts of Delhi around the seat of power – the Parliament, the President’s Palace (“Rashtrapati Bhavan”), the Government offices, et al, to avoid facing the protesters who usually assemble around the India Gate memorial. So, as tourists, we could not see the India Gate or take a ride on “Raj Path” the arterial road leading from the India Gate to the President’s Palace. Police presence was everywhere – asking even pedestrians to go away from the barricaded roads. There was no possibility of entering any one of the prohibited roads (and, we did test that !).

We tried visiting India Gate twice, but could not reach it. We could view it only from a faraway location, which is not the same as seeing it up close.

While all of us are in someway affected with emotions swirling around the gang rape victim (who died yesterday early morning), lack of an authoritative government presence in dealing with the peaceful protesters was a sure sign of the increasing disconnect between the government and the governed.

And, the government in power is surely missing one thing – that the many young people who were protesting are the same people who may be voting in their first or second elections, when the opportunity to vote comes up in early 2014.

Let us see whether the dissatisfaction with the government continues through that long, but as of now there is a clear disconnect and absolute disenchantment with the government and its lack of action and proactive engagement with people.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
30th December 2012
Mumbai

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