That’s growth

When the economic reforms started in India, everyone was very skeptic. After a few years down, it seemed that the benefits were not reaching its people at the grass root level – to the poor or in the villages. But India stuck to its reform-guns (like Bofors?), inspite of the government at the center changing hands for a full 5-year term from Congress to the BJP. Now that the power is back with Congress, the ‘reform train’ has covered a lot many areas of Indian economy. Even during BJP’s tenure there was no let up in this process.
Since I live in Mumbai, the largest metropolis of this country, I am not able to notice the changes in people’s life style in the rural areas. But what I can talk about are the scenes that I watch from my own window. Presently ‘hero’ of all the scenes is the ubiquitous ‘cell phone’ – basically meant for the higher to rich class. When cell phone was launched it costed Rs.16/- per minute to make or receive a call.
Let me warn you that some of these scenes may be strange, weird or even exciting. But they will amply prove that the lowest wrung of society is now beginning to get the benefits of things which even our middle class could not afford.
Scene:1: I am in my bedroom balcony watching the activities on the road. There is lot of traffic here. Gone are the days when it was a peaceful dead-end. Right in front across the road, Rakesh, our garbage collector (Kachrawalla) is sorting out the plastic and other useful items from the garbage collected from our and nearby buildings. He has the company of dogs, crows and a few cats. Rakesh is very young. We have seen him growing up. Earlier his mother used to do this work; now he does.
Well, Rakesh was hidden behind a few large red and blue plastic buckets full of garbage. Suddenly he lifted his head and slowly stood up. What do I notice? He is looking round while talking on a cell phone! He kept gesturing, which perhaps meant that he was trying to find someone. But that’s not the point. He is just about 20, he is a Kachrawalla and he has got cell phone!
Scene:2: This scene is also from the same film. In this case the actor is different. This time it is Rakesh’s young wife who is sweeping the compound. Her one hand has the broom, other hand is behind supporting her back, as Jamadars do. But her head is completely bent towards her left shoulder nearly touching her ear. You want to know why this awkward pose? Well if she does not do it, her cell phone will fall off. This was the most elating surprise for me to see a Jamadarni sweeping and chatting away on a cell phone clutched between her shoulder and ear.
Scene:3: I am on my way to work in an auto-Rickshaw. A phone rings, while I fiddle into my bag, the Rickshaw driver pulls up to side of the road and whips out his cell. After he is done he says sorry to me and we moved off as my lower jaw fell.
Scene:4: Walking through a lane in Lokhandwala, I notice a vegetable vendor from UP, with a large basket on his head. He is very strong and well fed. After all he has to carry nearly 20 Kg of vegetables, selling from flat to flat. I hear a ring tone of ‘Om Jai Jagdish’. He puts the basket down and rescues a cell phone from under the ‘Tarazu’ and speaks,”arre, hum najike pahunch gaye hain. Bus 5 minute main aate hain….. haan haan Karela leke aaye hain. Jaban diya tha na apko.”
Well in our land of Gods, ‘Bhagwan Ke Ghar Der Hai Andher Nahin’, even for economic reforms. Take care.

When the economic reforms started in India, everyone was very skeptic. After a few years down, it seemed that the benefits were not reaching its people at the grass root level – to the poor or in the villages. But India stuck to its reform-guns (like Bofors?), inspite of the government at the center changing hands for a full 5-year term from Congress to the BJP. Now that the power is back with Congress, the ‘reform train’ has covered a lot many areas of Indian economy. Even during BJP’s tenure there was no let up in this process.
Since I live in Mumbai, the largest metropolis of this country, I am not able to notice the changes in people’s life style in the rural areas. But what I can talk about are the scenes that I watch from my own window. Presently ‘hero’ of all the scenes is the ubiquitous ‘cell phone’ – basically meant for the higher to rich class. When cell phone was launched it costed Rs.16/- per minute to make or receive a call.
Let me warn you that some of these scenes may be strange, weird or even exciting. But they will amply prove that the lowest wrung of society is now beginning to get the benefits of things which even our middle class could not afford.
Scene:1: I am in my bedroom balcony watching the activities on the road. There is lot of traffic here. Gone are the days when it was a peaceful dead-end. Right in front across the road, Rakesh, our garbage collector (Kachrawalla) is sorting out the plastic and other useful items from the garbage collected from our and nearby buildings. He has the company of dogs, crows and a few cats. Rakesh is very young. We have seen him growing up. Earlier his mother used to do this work; now he does.
Well, Rakesh was hidden behind a few large red and blue plastic buckets full of garbage. Suddenly he lifted his head and slowly stood up. What do I notice? He is looking round while talking on a cell phone! He kept gesturing, which perhaps meant that he was trying to find someone. But that’s not the point. He is just about 20, he is a Kachrawalla and he has got cell phone!
Scene:2: This scene is also from the same film. In this case the actor is different. This time it is Rakesh’s young wife who is sweeping the compound. Her one hand has the broom, other hand is behind supporting her back, as Jamadars do. But her head is completely bent towards her left shoulder nearly touching her ear. You want to know why this awkward pose? Well if she does not do it, her cell phone will fall off. This was the most elating surprise for me to see a Jamadarni sweeping and chatting away on a cell phone clutched between her shoulder and ear.
Scene:3: I am on my way to work in an auto-Rickshaw. A phone rings, while I fiddle into my bag, the Rickshaw driver pulls up to side of the road and whips out his cell. After he is done he says sorry to me and we moved off as my lower jaw fell.
Scene:4: Walking through a lane in Lokhandwala, I notice a vegetable vendor from UP, with a large basket on his head. He is very strong and well fed. After all he has to carry nearly 20 Kg of vegetables, selling from flat to flat. I hear a ‘ring tone’ of ‘Om Jai Jagdish’. He puts the basket down and rescues a cell phone from under the ‘Tarazu’ and speaks, “arre, hum najikai pahunch gaye hain. Bus 5 minute main aavat hain….. haan haan Karela leke aaye hain. Jaban diya tha na apko.”
Well in our land of Gods, ‘Bhagwan Ke Ghar Mein Der Hai Andher Nahin’, even for economic reforms. Take care.

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