Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Luxury malls - when our own countrymen starve

"Luxury mall showcases wealth gap in India" reads the headline - which is actually a little soft if you read the contents.

We all know of malls and boutiques that charge a fortune for the simplest of things which can be got at less than half that price elsewhere. As a country we got used to it. But this is vulgarity of the highest form - that too from a land which has as examples Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa. The Emporio mall will have an entrance fee of $5 for its gold-plated ceilings, exotic fountains and the variety of designer labels on sale.

Isn't the scenario very familiar - sounds so to me. I hope for you who is reading this, Gandhiji's picture comes to mind. Of him getting thrown out of the train despite having a first class ticket - just because of his colour. Here it will be because an individual does not have enough money. What the englishmen did then, today we do to our own countrymen. Anger is not because it is a luxury mall - there are innumerable malls, but none of them charge the common man for entry. This one does so and thus, segregates:the basis, haves Vs havenots. I feel, this is the beginning of a division that is to come.

Where are we as a people headed to ? Why did our fore-fathers fight that battle with just non-violence as their weapon ? They must all be turning in their graves today so see how denigrated as a people we have become. They must be thinking of the lives and effort wasted when they look down on the poor hapless Indian begging for a meal a day. But then I think they still have a large heart - they would just wish that someday we would realize what we are upto, that we would understand and live for the ideals that they laid down their lives for.

Why do we ape the west so much - why can't we look inwards, at our own culture which teaches us that flashing wealth is a cheap act. Of course, all of us need clothes and sometimes costly ones too. But then, isn't there a limit - a personal limit that we need to set given the land in which we live ? I will be asked, "Who are you to decide the limits ?" and given lectures on freedom. We have weavers in AP dying because they are unable to repay Rs.50,000/- incurred as debt, the amount that a rich person would probably splurge on a designer pen or a designer handkerchief.
Similar is the condition of farmers in Vidarba, Maharashtra and Kalahandi in Orissa. Not to speak about tribals and farmers displaced from their land due to dams and innumberable SEZs built and being built to suit the needs of the city monsters(I know, it is a strong word, but doesn't it suit us ?). I personally think that it is distasteful for an Indian to wear Armani or a Dolce and Gabbana when that money could feed his fellowmen who are dying - and especially not in this manner with malls that segregate. What is needed is that we start wearing homemade clothes as much as possible, as a matter of pride and benefit.

The other day I read about an actress bragging about her collection of accessories and
on how she got accustomed to designer labels quite early in life. That was her take on her achievement and upbringing. I love Angelina Jolie and Diana for that - of course, they wear designer clothes, but their work is spoken about more than their clothes. Here, why should the rich bother ? Many of them think and know that India and its government works for them, to suit their needs. That their wealth will only multiply. Remember the story of Snow White and the wicked queen. Probably the rich live in such a world.


Leonardo said...

Great post. Suits everywelse just as much as it does India.

Prakhash said...

Nice Blog. Hats off. Hail Mother India.