Advertisement / Advertise with Us
The city can get better and greater, only if the toiling classes enjoy the fruits of growth
Posted On Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:21:31 PM
They have scripted the journey of this city into a fine cosmopolitan place, thanks to defence installations, industry hubs, foreign collaborations and education facilities. |
Pune remains the first choice of an urban settler in the state, if you go by the promise its future holds. Mumbai looks far more difficult and choked in terms of space and distance.
For changes as huge as this, migration cannot be wished away because it makes economic sense. That is why we see candidates from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh fighting successfully from the boroughs of Mumbai or Delhi.
You may even see a future Lok Sabha candidate of Bihari origin from the industrial town of Ludhiana, the pride of Punjab.
People living here will migrate to places where they can find a livelihood. Then the second set of people will come from the hinterland of Maharashtra and the rest of India, to build infrastructure and then, the third set of people will come here, work and settle down here. The challenge is how to usher this in harmoniously, with safeguards intact
They form the global class of cosmopolitan variety. They are from all over India and various corners of the world. Pune is their meeting ground. Their melting pot.
A tribal Christian girl from Jharkhand working in a BPO refuses to change her religion to marry a Punjabi boy. Green card holders returning to India, find Pune a better option to settle.
This city houses millions of such journeys of upwardly mobile middle-class people. They bring in the money from foreign collaborations, IT projects and consultancies.
They fill in the job of automobile giants and invest in infrastructure. They create tiny islands of affluence, from where you can’t make out which part of globe you are in.
I have felt so, standing inside some townships and heard about others. They have spaces they can’t fully use. Their stay is most comfortable here, though there is no end to their complaints.
The question is bigger about the other two migrants, who give away their space to projects and make development possible and who make adjustments.
Do they get to have some share in the cake of future prosperity, by way of a continuous share and other benefits such as jobs, education, health and clean water?
Do they remain in some ways an active partner in the scheme of things? The farmer of Hinjewadi and the ration card holder of Uruli Devachi dumpyard are examples.
It is amazing that this city and its civic bodies have shown no empathy to the people living in where our garbage goes. The development projects have actually made the original residents of the city and its surroundings silent sufferers.
The third migrant is the robust labour force. Most of them squeeze themselves into the spaces of the ‘inbetweenness’.
They form the urban slums of Pune, where life is like getting a seat in a general dabba of the Indian railways, which is a long struggle of getting on to a foothold, grabbing a part of the door handle, and then getting inside the coach, adjusting into a seat and then, if one is really lucky, finally, a happy breezy ending on the window seat.
Unless the role and contribution of these communities are recognised, unless their children go to schools and get into decent vocations, unless they get to live with a little human dignity, this city would never be served well.
If there no facilities are extended to them, this city will be full of mushrooming slums, threatening not just its planned development but also its green cover.
For the political classes, both these communities work as potential vote banks and soft targets for violent attacks. And, therefore, it is not in the interest of the politicians to ensure their welfare or empowerment of any kind.
What else can be the reason that Pune is sitting over its slum rehabilitation schemes for several years? No transition is easy and people who migrate also carry high levels of anxiety.
It is easy to create hostilities, ghettoise communities, infest them with criminal elements and reduce them to vote banks, but it is not so easy to be inclusive and give them their due. This city has some time and space to figure it out.
The story of new and greater Pune will also depend on the sensitivity shown for the second and the third category of migrant.
Advertisement / Advertise with Us