Delhi Musings: Capital of contradictions & Monkey Business

Dilliwalahs effortlessly navigate through contradictions in every aspect of their lives. You have shrines of Sufi saints being frequented by the same people who demonise Muslim and Islamic traditions

Representative image
Representative image

Giraj Sharma

Delhi is a city of contradictions. It shows in the manner in which the city has evolved, with centuries-old monuments coexisting with ultra-modern glass-steel buildings that have no character; a city which renamed Aurangzeb Road in righteous indignation but allowed another street to retain the name Aurangzeb Lane.

Dilliwalahs effortlessly navigate through these contradictions as they display contrasting behaviour in every aspect of their lives including matters of spirituality. You have shrines of Sufi saints being frequented by the same people who demonise Muslim and Islamic traditions.

However, nothing beats the contradictions that the political class sucks us into. On the one hand we have the new virus strain that demands a motivated medical fraternity on vigil while at the same time we cause distress among Resident and junior doctors. The protests and feeling of alienation of the protesting doctors in these taxing times needed sensitive handling rather than unleashing lathi-wielding Delhi Police cops on them. But then our political class seem to thrive on the chaos it creates and we look at them as dazed monkeys in utter disbelief that these are people we voted to power.

A curious case is that of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation run Rajan Babu Hospital. The Hospital has been running from a dilapidated building that the civic body had itself declared dangerous for use. The Aam Aadmi Party’s minister of Urban Development ordered an inquiry. The state government sought an action taken report from the corporation claiming that the lives of patients, doctors and para-medics are being put to danger while asking for the building to be vacated and sealed.

This decision obviously didn’t go down well with the BJP-run Municipal Corporation and with the municipal elections due soon – they called the order politically biased though accepting that a small section of the building had been declared unfit. Embroiled in this major controversy is this 700-bed hospital at a time when the authorities are struggling to create excess bed-capacity in the city in order to prepare itself better than it was during the second wave. Politics in this city is stupidly entangled with a warring city government on one end and municipal bodies ruled by an opposing party at the other. It is one helluva monkey business.

Talking about monkeys brings to light yet another contradiction. Should they be fed by Dilliwalahs or should they not be fed and encouraged? The Delhi Cantonment Board issued an order stating that people feeding monkeys near human habitation will be fined up to 5000 in accordance with existing municipal laws.

Interestingly, the warning said that the incidents of man-monkey conflict are on the increase in various parts of Delhi – they didn’t, however clarify if the monkeys in consideration are of the simian variety (Readers be warned that the insinuations they may draw are purely at their own risk).

Now officials of municipal corporations say that they have not issued any such order as the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act does not have any provision for fining people for feeding monkeys or dogs. With the problem reaching alarming proportions the municipal corporations have tried to relocate the monkeys to Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in the past. But then as it happens with most relocation and rehabilitation projects – such actions are illplanned and leave a lot to be desired.

Apparently the ‘sanctuary’ has no natural food source for the monkeys so they sneak back into residential areas for search of food. If the powers that be can’t do much to properly relocate the monkeys over a period spanning the past 12 years, then to expect them to properly rehabilitate humans, who have much higher needs, is to expect a bit too much. Go and ask those families of the Kathputli Colony who were to be rehabilitated in 2019!

Citizens are nothing but puppets in the hands of people who are supposed to be taking care of them. Come February and Dilliwalahs will go and vote for the municipal corporations where none of what’s been covered here will come up for consideration. Some monkey business this!

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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