Category: Delhi

This is what all the fuss is about (you twit)

I came across this article, at a particulary despicable site

Much has been written about the awful BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) project that the Delhi Government has foisted on a poor, impotent public. And now I add to that mass of words (with a fisking, of course).

The author of the offending article is obviously somebody who has never ever driven on the streets of Delhi. I’m going to assume this person is somebody who has a lot of unearned wealth, feels guilty about it, and therefore decides to turn into a Communist Fanatic. Or not. What can definitely be said is that the man has blindfolds on 24/7.

Anyway, (*rolls up sleeves*) let’s get cracking:

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Myths about Transport in Delhi

Huh?

So this triggered a rant (after a long hiatus).

    There are 1.5 million private cars on the road.

    Nice

      3 million two-wheelers, a lot of these will convert to cheapest small cars

      How is this a ‘fact about transport in Delhi’? What proof is there that this event occurring is a certainty? Delhi Metro and HCBS anyone?

        And only 6,800 city buses.

        Ummm why is there the word ‘only’ in this sentence. One bus can carry say I dunno…50 people? 50 x 6800 = 3 lakh people. If these 6800 buses are all out at the same time, and make multiple trips, that’s a lot of people being transported. How is 6800 a low number? Idiot.

          The city adds 41 vehicles every hour, 31% of them being private cars.

          Ok so that means that the remaining 69% consists of non-private vehicles – so that means private cars are not the dominant type of vehicle being sold. So shouldn’t we be worrying about the remaining 69%? Also, 31% of 41 = 12.71 cars per hour. Of course, that’s not what’s really going on, id it? What you did, was take the total number of cars sold in India in a year, and then divided that number by 8670, Clever Dick. This is a common scaremongering tactic, which should be obvious, because cars aren’t sold 24 hours a day. So it’s not like there will be 13 more cars on the street 60 minutes from now. Idiot.

            Last 5 years have seen a 43% increase in vehicles, and 9% in road space.

            and what therefore? Roads aren’t manufactured in factories. Were you expecting to see a proportionate increase in road space?

              Road area is already 20% of land area. Green area is only 10%.

              Okay so? Of course, this ‘fact’ conveniently forgets to mention that GREEN COVER IN DELHI HAS INCREASED OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS. Would it be better if 50% of Delhi was Jungle? Would that satisfy these morons? Is it possible for the road area to be substituted with Green area? Maybe we turned arid, desert land into road space, genius.

                There is a limit in extending roads and flyovers.

                Very good. Have you finally been promoted to Class II yet?

                  Our collective automobile experience ends with traffic jam.

                  Collective automobile experience? Is that like some weird sexual orgy involving cars? Wow, you’re a pervert.

                    And slower vehicles spew more.

                    More bile? Venom? Bananas? This is a ‘fact’?

                      We should be ashamed that all we gained out of converting public transport to CNG has been offset by rising number of cars!

                      It has? Is this another unsubstantiated ‘fact’? CNG helped reduce Acid Rain. That was a big gain. CNG can do nothing about RSPM, which has increased due to the amount of construction taking place in this city.

                        A car pays Rs 400 a year as tax, while a bus is charged Rs 13,000.

                        I’m curious – considering that many of Delhi’s buses are state-owned, how this tax figure was arrived at. Also, smarty pants, there is a tax on Petrol. I’m pretty sure car owners pay for petrol, so the amount of tax paid by car owners will dwarf that paid by buses. Moron.

                          Government subsidises private vehicles with low tax, cheapest parking lots.

                          Please define ‘low tax’. What is a ‘low tax’? And what do you mean cheapest parking lots?

                            Public investment in roads and flyovers are cornered by private cars only.

                            HUH? Are we still speaking English here?

                              Private cars take up 75% of the road space, while buses get only 8%.

                               – I would love to meet the revolutionary mathematician who came up with these numbers. I wonder how they were arrived at. I can guess. Some genius took the number of total vehicles in Delhi. Then they first divided the number of cars in Delhi by the total, and repeated the same for buses. To arrive at a completely meaningless number.

                                Hence, there is no money left for public transport investment.

                                Hence? Is this the same Hence that’s used when lays out a bunch of facts leading to a logical conclusion? Can anybody see any reasoning or logic used in the subjective statements made above?

                                  All these, while private transport only 20% of passengers, and buses still carry 61%.

                                  So……?

                                    Bravo Tabloid journalist. What an excellent link you’ve sent me.

                                    A coincidence and a yawn…

                                    So let me hereby state that I am no relation to the CM of Delhi, nor do I have (ewww) carnal knowledge of er…

                                    Interesting. I write a post about Delhi, and why it’s the best-maintained city in all India.

                                    And then today, this article appears in Mint, where the Chief Minister backs me up (well sort of)…

                                     And the best that Bombay can muster is this, linked to by Dilip D’Souza also a few days after my post, no less. To begin with, we have some unfair criticism and mis-statement of facts….

                                    This isn’t Delhi, where public outcry ensued after Richard Gere recently planted a public kiss on the actress Shilpa Shetty at a fund-raiser.

                                    Now, if someone had actually read newspapers, this is what they would have found:

                                    The pair had appeared at a press conference in New Delhi as part of a campaign to preach safe sex to truck drivers in India, the country with the world’s largest proportion of HIV sufferers.

                                    ‘No condom, no sex,’ Gere shouted in Hindi to thousands of truckers who roared his words back in unison at a dusty fairground.

                                    They whooped and whistled as Gere swooped on Miss Shetty to kiss her on her hand and cheek. Nationally, however, the reaction was of violent disapproval

                                    (Emphasis Mine). Now for those of you who passed your English exam, the above paragraph says that in Delhi, the truck drivers were whooping and whistling (I’m pretty sure you could take that as approval) however it is NATIONALLY, that the disapproval was voiced – why is Delhi being blamed for this? Further, where else do you think people will protest about something – in front of fucking Karan Johar’s house or Rashtrapati Bhawan. Public outcry in Delhi MY ASS!

                                    After her fashion show, Dé explained to me Mumbai’s social architecture. “If you are in Delhi, it’s which minister you know,” she said. “If you are in Chennai, it’s all about which caste you are. In Calcutta, it’s what your grandfather did. But in Mumbai, it’s not about that kind of rigid social structure any longer. It’s about what you have done.

                                    Yea. Right. “Mumbai” where people from the North are discriminated against – “You’re from Delhi?” / “You’re Punjabi with an upturned nose. A place where non-vegetarian people may be banned from living in certain neighbourhoods. Right. No caste prejudices here. No no no, it’s not who you know at all in Bombay. So what if you are related to Bal Thackeray> Oh yes, that’s right, he’s not a minister. How VERY different from Delhi. Ah yes, Dawood Ibrahim is not a minister either. Yep, it’s definitely not about who you know in Bombay, not at all. Oh you don’t know Yash Chopra, or have a Khan or Kapoor in your last name? Well then, let’s sign you on to my next blockbuster, because, of course, it’s what you’ve done. Somebody get a shovel and a gas mask please… 

                                    Now the rest of article is just typical NYT trash. Example:

                                    The culture seeks the kind of innocent enchantment Bollywood movies promote, yet the city’s red-light district, Falkland Road, is populated by prostitutes who pose in cages, and the country now ranks third in the world in people living with H.I.V. (roughly 2.5 million), according to a 2007 report from the United Nations.

                                    Now what the writer of this article CONVENIENTLY forgotten to mention (because it would have ruined his oh-so-flowery contrast) is that this statistic is DOWN from ranking NUMBER ONE in the world with the most number of people with AIDS. Why? Because the UN counted wrong the first time, and a more comprehensive count revealed what some people already knew – THAT HIV IS NOT AS PREVALENT IN INDIA AS THE SCAREMONGERS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE. But let truth not stand in the way of good journalism, as the Times Of India would say. This is further backed up by the Daily Mail quote from above (the description of Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty) which states “in India, the country with the world’s largest proportion of HIV sufferers“. Between the Daily Mail article and the NYT article, the numbers were revised downwards….

                                    And then it just gets funnier and funnier:

                                    Despite the fact that she was raised in a palace with 30 servants, India’s culture then, she said, was not one of constant acquisition

                                    Oh man, what a riot. Asking a real-live princess to comment on the daily-lives of Indians back in the day. Gee, when I was a feudal lord living in my palace, I didn’t see many of my subjects indulging in ‘acquisition’. WHAT AN INSIGHT! Not a culture of acquisition. This is just great…

                                    Yes.. a Mumbai Moment alright.

                                    Not the British – not directly anyways….

                                    Dear Sir,
                                    I am a great fan of yours, so allow me to express shock and disbelief at this opinion. To imply that Delhi’s infrastructure is the best because of the British is complete and utter Nonsense.

                                    For starters, Delhi is _not_ a well planned city. It depends which part of Delhi we are talking about. Old Delhi (whose original name is back in fashion these days – “Shahjahanabad”) is not well planned and is a fire disaster waiting to happen.

                                    “New Delhi” which refers specifically to an area built to the south of Old Delhi, designed by British architects and built by Sikh refugees to the City, is extremely “well planned”, and also completely useless for 21st century city dwellers. Nice and wide roads, 3 lanes one way, trees and huge bungalows are eating up space which could be utilised to build skyscrapers, art galleries, theatres, commercial space and residential space which would bring the ridiculous cost of land within Delhi tumbling down. But, that said, it all does look very Pretty. If I could level all of New Delhi, I would do it in a flash. We don’t need a bloody “Presidential Palace”, we don’t old high-roofed White House look-a-like bungalows which require a staff of 15 servants. In fact, there is no real reason at all WHY Delhi should be the capital of the country, other than the fact that is has always been the capital of something for the past 2000+ years. In my view, level the damn place, make a museum out of Parliament house, and send the bloody Central Government packing to most crime-ridden flea-infested part of Madhya Pradesh/ Bihar, and have them build a new Capital from scratch. A new capital, for a New India. And watch how that becomes a new center of economic activity. THAT would wonders for our GDP and economic growth. Fuck the British, and their so-called love of infrastructure.

                                    Now Outside of 600-year-old Shahjahanabad, and 100-year-old New Delhi, the rest of Delhi is just absolute chaos. But this has nothing to do with lack of Britishness. After partition, wave after wave of refugees made Delhi their home. You try setting up an orderly city in those circumstances. Places like GK-1 & GK-2 built by DLF, when they were considered the edge of Delhi, sometime in the 1960s are literally creaking at the seams, with what used be single houses in big plots being converted to 4 storey-8 apartments blocks with equivalent numbers of cars unable to fit into those alleys.

                                    The power cuts in the city used to be extremely frequent up until about a year ago, by which time Tata Power and BSES Rajdhani/Reliance Energy have finally managed to reduce power theft, upgrade billing, metering and fix a few of the centuries old transformers. If the British were so good, how come they couldn’t plan for future power stations? Do you think their broad avenues, bungalows and Presidential Palace with its still waterways consume less energy than anything produced by Indians? In terms of upkeep, water and power? Good infrastructure my left foot!

                                    There has been no water to be had for years. I could blame this on the British too. Which idiot plans on settling next to the Rajasthani desert and have hot winds blowing in during the middle of June with the temperature at a mild 47 degrees celcius? Vasant Kunj is still a dry desert dependent on rusted, leaking Delhi Jal Board trucks. Water pipes from the new treatment plant at Sonia Vihar were completed only 2 years ago, and we are still begging-dependent on UP & Haryana to release some water to us to keep things going. There may be working water pipes under British-built New Delhi, but they are maintained at the expense and cost of that section of the local population that has no water whatsoever.

                                    And I haven’t even begun to talk about North Delhi, West Delhi or East Delhi yet…

                                    With due respect, the British are NOT responsible for the only city with barely passable infrastructure in – dare-I-say-it South Asia.

                                    Delhi embarked on a clean-up plan when a few things happened in recent times:

                                    1. Economic Liberalisation in 1991. And this is the capital of the country in which the liberalisation occured, i.e. a Centre of Power. 
                                    2. There was a software boom (amongst other various booms, which are still very much n progress), and there was lots of empty land outside Delhi that was being developed because there was no land to be had inside the city. Thus we have Gurgaon, and NOIDA (which stands for New Okhla Industrial Development Area, btw – Okhla being an industrial area of Delhi)
                                    3. The Congress (I HATE the Congress, as do most Delhi-ites, BUT, many of us respect Sheila Dikshit a lot, who is viewed as not being very corrupt – despite all the clout her son carries in Delhi) came to power with a huge majority.
                                    4. Delhi bid for the Commonwealth Games and won. This means our city will have to be at a certain level before it can even consider hosting such an event – note that this is a precursor to bidding for the Olympics – and all of this is the VISION of some of the current politicians who rule Delhi. Of course, the fact that we are part of the Commonwealth is because of the British, so yes, maybe it all is because of them.
                                    5. Being a Union Territory, and not subservient to the requirements of any rural state, coupled with The BJP’s push for Statehood allowed Delhi to have an independence in the running of affairs that no other city gets to have in all of India.

                                    There may be other factors, but these are the ones that come to mind. Sheila Dikshit, or whoever advises her has been the only person approaching a leader that I have seen in recent times. She has lived in Delhi, and is part of what one might call the Urban Elite – and therefore knows exactly what is required in a mostly _urban_ environment by urban dwellers. No other Urban area in India has this luxury – why? Because every large urban agglomeration in India also happens to be the State Capital. Bangalore for Karnataka, Hyderabad for Andhra, and of course Bombay for Maharashtra (or as arrogant Bombay people would like to claim – Bombay for all India). This means that you have goondaspoliticians coming in from their agrarian/rural base, and governing from an urban capital. So – loot the urban financial centres to feed the farmers with free rice and electricity. Result: Power cuts in the cities, no roads, and lots of cows. Welcome to modern day India.

                                    In USA – NO Big City is the capital of the state that it is in – New York state is governed from Albany. California is governed from Sacramento, and on and on. This allows the Urban centres to focus on their priorities which are strikingly different from the rural ones.

                                    There are a lot of other factors as well, but I am at work currently so can’t answer you fully.

                                     But I would like to strenuously deny that the British built city of New Delhi is the cause of what resembles passable infrastructure. All this is recent phenomena caused by the luck of having a semi-decent politician in power, and some of the other factors mentioned above. She privatised the electricity distribution. She’s privatised the Waste Management (garbage) which is now managed by the DWM (Delhi Waste Management). She wanted to privatise water distribution but that was shot down due to ‘concerns’. She wanted to liberalise the liquor policy because she was quoted as saying “I do not feel it is the government’s business to sell alcohol” but was also shot down by public protest. She managed to push through a half-attempt. Large ‘kirana’ stores can stock beer and wine. She attempted to allow shops to remain open for 24 hours, and I think that still holds, but most stores don’t do it, claiming issues with the police.

                                    She wanted to revise farcical privatisation of Blueline buses done in Delhi by the BJP (One bus to one owner!~#$##!#!$) and revise that with a system resembling the telecom industry – allow 3/4 corporates to run bus services in Delhi. Again, this proposal was struck down by her own party members, and various other vested interests.

                                    Now I don’t want to sound like a Sheila Dikshit fan, but which other politician in this whole country has their head screwed on this straight?

                                    Prior to Sheila Dikshit running Delhi, it was exactly what Bombay people still perceive it to be – a sarkari village without a nightlife and where everybody knows someone in the government. (Nowadways everybody knows someone who owns a pub and can get you free entry).

                                    Note – the Delhi Metro is success not because of anything the British did, but because of a man called E Sreedharan, and also because of Sheila Dikshit – who COULD have obstructed its construction, but instead got straight out of the way, and let them acquire the land they wanted to acquire, let them compensate the people freely and fairly, and basically gave them Support. (Having a friendly government at the Centre helped this as well).

                                    To conclude I’d like to say a few things:

                                    1. The British contributed nothing to improve the infrastructure of Delhi. Wide roads, and a presidential palace with a memorial arch and a canopy which used hold a statue of King George do not make life easier for a city of 14 million people (and growing)
                                    2. I am NOT a supporter of Congress, and I hate everything they have done to this country. I am not a lover of Sheila Dikshit either, but again, looking at the alternatives, I would vote for her again if she runs or gets a ticket from her party (which she won’t because she actually accomplished something)
                                    3. This post is messy, disorganised, and doesn’t say all i wanted it to because I am at work and have to go for lunch now. But I would love to debate this further with you.
                                    4. I know this post sounds like a “Let’s blame it all on the British” diatribe, but that is not my intent. But let’s be clear. India was a colony. A big colony, run initially by a multinational company. They needed to get those resources extracted as efficiently as possible. Thusly, a nationwide railroad, developed ports (Bombay & Calcutta), a decentralised administration (building a local elite)  and all the support services that go along with it. If the British, with their apparent love of infratructure are so good, how come the United Provinces (British ruled) and now known as UP are in such bad shape. Why do you only mention those 3/4 specific cities?
                                    5. I will concede one thing – Bombay – IS semi-decent because of the British. But then in my view the whole city was built by the British anyway. They reclaimed the land to make it one city, so rightly they should get the credit for that. But sorry, the same does not apply to Delhi.

                                    Urban Pind (squared)

                                    On Delhi

                                    Pind is Punjabi for gaon which is Hindi for village.

                                    (So the title is such because most people consider Delhi to be a pind. An Urban Pind.  )

                                    Went to Urban Pind last night for the first time ever. Was quite impressed with the place, they’ve done it up well. Plus, it was ‘expat’ night last night, though honestly, these days, any night is expat night in most of the bars/clubs/pubs in Delhi (and elsewhere too I assume. Lots of white people travelling through India these days). The crowd was good, the music kicked ass, and a good time was had by one and all. I attribute some of this good time to my previously-mentioned colleague A. Somehow, whenever I go out with her, I end up having an excellent time. There will be a post on our fun trip to Bangalore soon, which will explain more. Or not

                                     Anyways, just the whole night scene Delhi serves to remind how this city has been on the ascendant for a while now, until the next plunder. Allow me to explain. I have become obsessed with Khushwant Singh’s ode to Delhi called “Delhi, A Novel”. I don’t think it’s in print anymore, but I highly recommend you get a copy. While Bombay will have its Midnight’s Children and its Maximum City, Delhi has “Delhi, A Novel”. It’s when you read that you really begin to understand things. How many ‘big’ cities rose (and fell) 100 years before Rome? After reading the novel, you get to see a cycle.

                                    1) Foreigners invade Delhi.

                                    2) Delhi-ites fight back

                                    3) Foreigners murder lots of Delhi-ites, plunder the city, and then govern their kingdoms from there.

                                    4) They then proceed to get increasingly decadent, going native, all the while falling further into complacency

                                    5) Go back to 1)

                                    Sure, in the old days we were dealing with Mughal Emperors and such like. Then we had the British. Now we have ‘ministers’ some of which are Prime and others are just Chief (with some Foreign & Home thrown in 🙂 ) But the cycle continues. They invade, they plunder, they go native, and then they get invaded again.

                                    And thus the story goes on as it has for a 1000 years.

                                    It’s interesting what prompted that ramble. I was busy drinking my Vodka Tonic in Urban Pind, when a bunch of ‘Expats’ decided to order some Hookah (or Sheesha if you prefer) and were passing it around. Another bunch of ‘expats’ – the Mughals were doing that in the same place about 800 years ago.

                                    Some things never change.

                                    What I learned in MY City

                                    It was gonna happen eventually.

                                    Delhi, OH Delhi, I will miss you so.

                                    From the Fashion-Ramp that is M-Block Market, G.K. 1 to the 21st Century Metro train running over Rohini and Dwarka.

                                    From the Tihar Jail in Janak Puri, to the Shipra Mall in Ghaziabad.

                                    From the HCL office in Gurgaon, to the Times of India office in Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.

                                    From the the dead Muslims lying in our parks, to the burnt Hindus floating in the Yamuna.

                                    From the wide roads of a British-Built capital, to the narrow roads of an old Mughal City.

                                    From the Snobbery of South Delhi, to the Punjabiyat of Karol Bagh (formerly Carol Gardens, I shit you not).

                                    From the Embassy Restaurant in Connaught Place, to the McDonald’s opening up in subterranean Train Stations.

                                    From the murder death and devastation that is New Delhi Railway Station to the murder death and devastation that is the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

                                    From the gazillion cycles clogging up Kapas Heda, to the 8 Porsche Cayennes, 35 S Class Mercedes and the Bentley Showroom in the Government-owned Ashoka Hotel.

                                    From the pucca Army sahibs to the nouveau-rich Buntys and Montys.

                                    From Rajinder da Dhaba to The Great Kebab Factory.

                                    From National Highway 8 to the Grand Trunk Road.

                                    From the borehole to the Delhi Jal Board

                                    From the invertor to the BSES Rajdhani Power Company.

                                    From Connaught Place to Nehru Place

                                    From the cycle rickshaw to the “World’s Largest CNG-Powered Bus Fleet”.

                                    From TTG to Sheila Dixit

                                    From Vikas Marg to the NOIDA toll bridge

                                    From Mall Road to Shopping Mall (MG) Road

                                    From the Delhi Golf Club to the Classic Golf Resort

                                    From the corpses of the Archana and Savitri movie theatres to the PVR Europa Lounges

                                    From sting operators to attractive blog-journalists

                                    From A Saket Resident, to a Resident Saket

                                    From 47 degrees to 5-Metre-only visibility.

                                    From Delhi Bitches to Honest Policemen

                                    From Car Pool Partners to a Lack of Partners (1, 2)

                                    From The Rules of Delhi to Delhi RULZ!

                                    (From reading more, to ignoring the read more)

                                    A Dandy March

                                    I’m a ‘Marathon Man’!

                                    Heh, despite all the arguments to the contrary, I don’t think Delhi is very (air-)polluted. In Mid-October (now), the wind cools you instead of burns you, it’s actually cold in the morning, and trees loaded with ‘Rath ki Rani’ are in full bloom, so the place smells BEAUTIFUL.

                                    Anyway, this is a city of “broad, tree-lined avenues” and is one of the few Indian cities where green cover has increased over the last few years. So, why not hold a Marathon here? Well, a Half Marathon, to be exact. So between 7 and 9 in the morning on a lazy Sunday, they closed up the roads of Central (otherwise known as ‘New’) Delhi, and held three races. The first was the 21-point-something kilometre Half Marathon, which 5000 people took part in. The winners (who took slightly over an hour to complete the course) were almost all African – some Kenyan, some Tanzaniyan. The first prize was a nice and tidy US$20,000

                                    But that’s not the race I ranfast-walked in.

                                    After the pros, came the Senior Citizen Run (5 Kilometres), open to everyone above 55, I think. 5 kilometres long, and some very fit, and not so-fit seniors going at it. Finally came the Great Delhi Run ( 7 Kilometers). Me and my sister took part in this, and although we learned we’re not cut out for the next olympics, we also learned we can brisk-walk 7 km without stopping.

                                    The weather was good, and Delhi was out in force, around 25,000 people in all. There were cheerleaders from Radio Mirchi and Standard Chartered , egging us on. 2 Helicopters, borrowed from the Military, patrolled the area, kept an eye on us for security and hovered low to wave at us. Kingfisher (of the Beer and the Airline), supplied all runners with free bottled water, ever kilometre or so. People lined the sides of the streets, to cheer, to watch, to enjoy (and probably to wonder what’s the big deal?).

                                    And of course, Hutch’s brilliant advertising campaign. WHO is their agency? Those guys are truly brilliant. “Bunty bhi bhagega, Dadaji bhi bhagenge. The Colonel will run, Spot the Dog will run. Delhi will run”. Banners lining the marathon route read “Run.Jog.Walk.Crawl. But Finish”. “If you think you can’t run, stop thinking!” -)

                                    An all round good time!