Help yourself and give me the publicity…

Jug Suraiya’s satirical piece in Times of India – he refers to Tajnagar, a village near Gurgaon that built its own railway station – a ‘community railway station’ – Impressive! The villagers have apparently been petitioning for close to thirty years. The railways probably have been busy (and their finances stretched) from servicing Bihar and Bengal, under instructions from parochial railway ministers hailing from that region.

Note that having constructed the basic structure, the village has decided to invite the Member of Parliament from Gurgaon Rao Inderjeet Singh to inaugurate the station. This probably will be a nice occasion for the MP to hold forth on the spirit of cooperation in India’s villages, the virtues of the aam-aadmi and how self-help is the best help. I don’t know if any local village organisation (or NGO) had a hand in suggesting that the MP be invited for the ceremony. It would be fitting to have the village head do the honours. And if they really want to make a point, put an ad in the newspaper inviting the Honourable Union Railway Minister Mamta Bannerjee to grace the occasion.

‘Attending inaugurations’ is probably jotted into a politicians’ job description. Often, they are invited to inaugurate even if they had little to do with the particular effort, if only in the hope that they would now take note of the local efforts and provide some additional assistance. While working in Orissa, we routinely had politicians inaugurate our community projects – some of which were constructed in the face of opposition/disinterest/indifference of local bureaucrats and unhelpful politicians. On being invited, they often arrived late, made their long speeches and offered mere platitudes to the community, before making their way to the next function on their schedule. Sometimes (though rarely), being invited to such events changed their minds and they turned into great champions of replicating the initiative. This one hopefully will be different.

Coming back to the Gurgaon MP and on a slightly unrelated note – will the MP have anything to offer to the thousands of construction workers in Gurgaon who live in tin shanties (in the scroching Gurgaon heat) right next to glitzy malls and apartments? I have very little hope anything of that sort will happen.


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