Urban Opera – Featuring the Monstrous Migrants, Irreverence for Law and the Impatient Middle Class.

Let’s look at the urban umbrage or the metropolitan menace from the perspective of the population that migrates into cities. These people who were so very familiar with the simplicity of means, informal relationships and communal behavior take instant and cognitive refuge to complicated interpretations that are riddled with influences by unfamiliar relations which bring out the competitive behavior for the sake of survival. In an attempt to improve the efficiency of life through the opportunities in employment, housing, transportation, health care and education by the government, the urbanization process has become an inexplicable source of mismatched expectations between the myriad misadventures in governance and the right to life and livelihood by people.

What prevents the otherwise impregnable minds and the schematic ploys by the administrative architects to foresee the need for planning the measured migration? The number of metropolitan cities and the urban centers in India can still be counted in palms and not in calculators.

It cannot be organic apathy alone!

To quote Ms. Madhura Swaminathan of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata - “There are costs of participating in the urban economy, when the income is cancelled out by the increased expenditure. In the end, you have even less left for food”. The academician’s, researcher’s and the expert’s views on the disharmony between the urban growth and disharmony of life, for reasons unknown, fails to reach the powerful corridors of the administrators and castles of the politicians. Or, we must safely conclude that these treatise are destined to remain within the realm of the state sponsored libraries and archives to enhance the decor and dominance of the national intellectual property, so as to bestow upon the honoris causa at the cost of the delectable delight of illiterate politicians and the perennial parasites in the bureaucrats.

The time is running out, but fortunately not yet over for us to admit that the pursuits in governance and administration requires accepting the fact that the people responsible for shaping the dreams for the country need to acclimatize themselves with the predictable changes associated with growth and development. But what is more important is to develop the keenness and intent to foresee beyond the predictable by learning from the mistakes and acting on it, instead of mindlessly replicating success stories of the alien lands with similar challenges but adorned with people who have the intent to address it.

The dichotomy of the urban dream is etched in the perpetuity of the insatiable and insurmountable chase for the unknown. What begins with a quest for food, graduates to fortune and then gets chastised for fame. Greed gets veiled in Hunger, becomes naturally justified as Fortune and then succumbs to the fallacies of Fame! The points in this case are the migrants. The city beckons truckloads of labours for its flyovers as livelihood and then offers the ghetto beneath it as life. Today’s pain is tomorrows gain. It indeed is, for these herds of gullible, impoverished today but infatuated with tomorrow.

The flyover gets operational.

The same lot of migrants now becomes a sore to the urban eyes, clearly castigating them for being the nuisance to the city. For the city and its self proclaimed native dwellers did not account for their habitat as slums, tea shanties as livelihood, mongrel and rat infested government dispensaries as a neighbour to their sky scrapping wonders and the pure breed bloodline of Pomeranians and German shepherds sharing the same faecal grounds.

Notwithstanding the patronage to the migrants in forms of house maids, rickshaw pullers, security guards, drivers, street side food and utility vendors etc, the Migrants keep drawing the ire for their unruliness and incompatibility to the city life and in the bargain adds choicest of expletives to the city lexicon. These get practiced at ease, in the social circles and night clubs by the PYT (pretty young things) in their LBD (little black dresses) and their consorts.

And not to forget the social commentators, fire brand purists, bored philanthropists and the paunchy businessmen ill-clad in their floral prints, reeking with the perversion of ill amassed fortunes and their bandwagon in page 3. This is the class which has outclassed even the cockroaches with their survival instincts and in their penchant for the crispness of currency to the coarseness of life. Bending of Rules and the Mending of ties, either by the greasing of palms or by being adaptive to the political profligacy is so very natural that the irreverence for Law has become a testimony to their getting featured in the print and media for wrong reasons regularly, by earning notoriety as their epitaph and obituary and trading fortune for fame.

While the upper class outlook stands invaded by the haute couture, the middle class is bracing for the left over’s. The middle class is typified at best, as a case, where the pension fund is the recourse to marrying off the daughter(s) & building a house that could be at best, testify as the remnant to the middle class plight which often gets misinterpreted as pride. The middle class legacy of being born, having toiled and getting laid to rest in ignominy, is at threat by the mushrooming of the change agents in the urban outset. 

The restlessness and the impatience to survive has left the middle class with no other option but to grin at the exemplary and surgical precision at which the urban life is moving towards a definite decadence. A chance encounter with the editorials in the print every morning gives an opportunity to this class to identify with the similarity in outlook with the erudite and he takes to spewing venom in the company of the migrant housemaid before leaving home to work for either the social commentator or the fire brand purist, the bored philanthropist or the paunchy businessman, ill-clad in his floral print attire.

When it comes to paying the tax, the migrant has no clue but for the daily extortion for a livelihood. The social commentator or the fire brand purist, the bored philanthropist or the paunchy businessman, ill-clad in his floral print attire either makes a beeline for tax havens in Mauritius or keep the kitchen fire burning for the accountants in mending and bending rules in evasion. The middle class erupts again in an unprecedented impatience to file their return within the stipulated deadline. The national exchequer has a peaceful night and the finance ministry heaves a sigh of relief that the decimals in the budget deficit need not be tweaked any further, for the middle class have paid their taxes, well ahead in time.


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