THREE years ago Mumbai woke up to the scary news that a portion of a bridge in Andheri had collapsed.
Soon all bridges were hurriedly scrutinized and the next morning’s paper mentioned three bridges had been closed to the public and people banned from using them.
A few years ago, plastic was banned, and as I see even today, the poor and others struggling in the monsoons, with nothing to carry their goods in, I remember a play I’d written years ago:
In the play a man is stranded in a stalled lift and as he shouts and screams in panic, different people passing by offer him advice on how to open the door, but even though the poor man tries it is of no avail, “Get me out of here!” he screams.
Suddenly all activity stops. There is a hush as a local minister who’s heard of the poor man’s plight enters the building, looks at the poor fellow, pulls out a speech and says, “I am concerned about the plight of the people who get stuck in lifts!”
“Get me out of here!” whispers the man.
“And I have a solution for this,” continues the minister beaming, “From today, I ban all lifts!” That seems to be the new solution to everything.
It’s no more about maintaining lifts or checking bridges, nor about fining those who throw plastic indiscriminately, but blanket bans!
“Plastic is a miraculous material!” says Sadhguru in one of his discourses, “It is one of the most fantastic materials, that human beings have created. Plastic is not bad, human beings have become irresponsible! Fix that!”
And how is irresponsibility fixed? By regulation, inspection and strict policing? It is not plastic or bridges that have to be banned but the fixing of inspectors and regulatory authorities who have shirked responsibility! I can imagine a scene taking place soon, “Sir, a bridge has fallen down!”
“All bridges are banned!” “There are potholes on all the roads!” “Traveling is banned on all roads!” “People are getting run over by trains!” “Trains are banned!” Many years ago, during Indira Gandhi’s regime, VS Naipaul wrote a book called, ‘An Area of Darkness’.
Immediately the then government banned the book. But did our darkness go away?
Can you hear people in high-rises, walking up and down the stairs as their lifts are banned? Can you hear the cries of the man caught in the lift? What I see are the poor wondering what to use instead of plastic, then wondering where they will get 5000/- to pay the fine the inspector grins and asks them to pay.
The same man who should have been regulating the disposal of plastic not handling the receiving of fines..!