Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Epic Speech

Today, in the evening few DU students came to conduct a survey on Rickshaw-wallas. They claimed to be doing it on behalf of Govt. of India! This exercise was part of their project at the end of which they would send their recommendations based on which the government will make welfare policies for us. Wow, finally the government talking some cognizance of the Rickshaw-wallas. Sounds so Utopian!

But this is just a frivolous introduction, the real stuff is the speech of this legendary rickshaw-walla whose name I don't know.

The ritual of form-filling was going on at its full swing when I reached the Metro station. I had no idea and hence I asked, "what's going on?" and what followed was this epic speech. He said -

It's some kind of a survey. What survey man... it's yet another attempt of the government to rob us poor of our livelihood (gareeb ke pet par laat). These people promise us a parking lot. hah... they will give us a parking lot! Bullsh*t. A similar survey was conducted a few years back promising us the world, they started the Campus-Special Bus instead! This time around, they would probably start Helicopters!

(Unlike U-special buses which ply on specific routes, the Campus-special is a circular bus service from Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station touching most of the colleges. It charges a flat fare of Rs 10 for any destination. It came into existence approximately 2 years back and has considerably eaten up the earnings of a rickshaw-walla)

They ask us how much do we earn. Now if we tell them honestly that we earn around Rs 400, the govt's eyes will go wide immediately. *a rickshaw-walla earns so much in a day* instead of doing something for us, the first thing they will do is "how to stop them from earning a respectable income, how to keep them in perennial poverty."

Aisa kyun? (The honesty and conviction with which he asked me that question was quite moving and that's why I put the words as it is instead of translating them. It means - why is it so?)

What have they got against a rickshaw-walla? Are we stealing or robbing somebody? Is earning an honest living a crime? This metro security guard beats us up?
Aisa kyun hota hai?

A man (i guess he said FAT!) gets down from the bus and screams "oye rickshaw" and the rickshaw-walla takes him on board. A bus drops him on the bus stand, Metro drops him at the Metro station but where does a rickshaw drops him? ... on the stairs of his house. If there were a way to take rickshaw from his stairs to his room, a rickshaw might well have dropped him on his bed! and yet people abuse a rickshaw-walla?
Kyun bhai?

When a person bleeds on the road, a car doesn't stop to help him. You call just once to a rickshaw-walla and he takes that guy to Hindu Rao Hospital (the nearest govt. hospital of that area). He doesn't charge you a fortune, even in case of extreme emergencies. He saves lives. And yet people have least amount of respect for us!
Aisa kyun?

He took a long pause when another colleague snapped, "ho gaya?" while pressing a button of his mobile phone. He was apparently recording his speech! Worth recording indeed. Everybody burst into laughter.

You know what I want to ask the government? I want to ask, "why this distance sir? why this indirect path?" Survey...delay...recommendations....more delay... committees formed....eternal delay.
You hold MCD elections, you hold Assembly elections, for what? If you really care, just send down that representative to listen to us. We will not only let him know our ailment but the medicine to cure it as well. We don't expect to get the exact dosage but the suffering would certainly subside even if half of the prescription is met.

But please don't pull this wool of survey over our eyes.


  1. Everyone is having similar problem with this autocratic government which is corrupt and helps corrupt people, while those who struggle to earn livelihood are treated in a similar way...

    1. Hi Avinash,
      Things are indeed grim at the moment. but I do see some light at the end of the tunnel. lets hope for the best.
      a collective effort is what we need.
      thanks a lot for ur comment nevertheless.

      PS: my sincere apologies for the delayed reply!

  2. hi, after going through ur experiences, i realised that reality is much harsher,stranger than fiction.its easy to understand things theoritically but practically its just like what tenzing norgey might have gone through while climbing mt.everest. ur experience should be considered in broader perspective of haves and havenots and incessant struggle for survival as seen through lives of houseworker,rickshaw puller, coalmine worker,brick kiln workers,bonded labour,manual scavangers etc because situations change but plight remains the same.i can only think of it while sleeping cosily on my bed but even a thought of facing harsh realities gives a chill down the spine.i think the effort taken by you should prompt atleast those people who are welloffs economically to understand the misfortunes of so called "fortunes at bottom of pyramid" by trying it themselves then only a true insightful society with a feeling of esprit de corpse will emerge.i dont know whether the readers of blog will seriously introspect ur experiences but one thing i am sure that this reality of life will always remain with you nd will provide you with real content to contribute in social journalism especially in the era where we more rely on superficiality of person than his content and character.i think your journey towards real manhood has begun

    1. Hi Akshay,
      The first sign of real manhood is to accept when you are wrong and hence I shd sincerely apologize for this extremely delayed reply.
      Thanks a lot for taking out ur time to read and comment.
      I hope ur words materialize and I am able to do justice to the career of journalism that I aspire to pursue!

  3. hypocratic democracy that is we live into! The corrupt political system alongwith equally corrupt bureaurocracy is a mockery of democratic principals that we read in text books. The political establishment is supposed to take care of the'last man of gandhiji' but the irony is that it has become puppet in the hands of corporate sector and the multinational companies. Mass mobilization is necessary to bring out political and social change as well as the mindset of people. Your effort is fantastic in this connection that you are raising the issues of the poor by yourself going through this situation.

    1. I don't know how my effort, which is primarily a self-realization rather than mass-mobilization attempt, would be able to bring any but there is no harm in hoping so. :)
      thanks a lot go your kind words. cheers

      ps: extremely sorry for the delayed reply.

  4. That was indeed an epic speech, one that mirrors the situation as it is today in our country. The poor are vote banks, so keep them that way, throw some sops their way but be careful not to let them rise above their penury.

    1. very well summed up Zephyr.
      and good to see you on my blog after a long time...
      well, talking of long time, my sincere apologies for the delayed reply!

  5. The survey stuff looks prankish. I have hard time believing that it was government.
    Btw the speech sounds very filmy. I am sure there are much more things worthy of a film in your life.
    Do you have the recording? Can we share it online? It will make people feel something if only for a few minutes.