The middle class in Bangalore (as probably in the rest of India and the world) are wrapped in a self serving delusional bubble. Into this bubble, they allow occasional snippets of information which entirely suits their closed middle class apathy.
The information inflow is tightly controlled to advance their own interests. In the event that some news drifts in or is so in the face that it simple CANNOT be ignored, the middle class, as an animal by itself, will seek ANY means to negate this news. It will negate this news by believing even the unbelievable. It will convince itself, through a series of internal consultations and exchange of notes, that its belief is the truth.
This is why the middle class needs a reality check.
In Bangalore, the reality check is right there in one’s faces. 2000 homes have been destroyed in broad daylight by a combination of a filthy MLA called Harris, hundreds of lathi wielding police, rowdies hired by the BBMP, an obscenely blatant company called Maverick holdings and a morally dead middle class. MLAs are known to be filthy and corrupt, the police are known to be rowdy and brutal, rowdies need no explanations and private companies such as Maverick holdings will live off and eat off a dead corpse if it offered them a benefit. While all these are known and accepted, what is not known and not yet accepted is that everyone of these vile agencies exist because they are sanctioned by the morally dead middle class of Bangalore.
Bangalore boasts of malls and pretty faces and funky dudes and glitzy pubs. Bangalore kids are smart and talented – what with their music classes and fancy schools and air-conditioned cars. Bangalore society is vibrant and active with their habbas and their cultural glitz and their ever welcoming smiles to rich visitors. Bangalore is the pretty face of a conscienceless, amoral, greedy and insensitive society. This society believes that every resource belongs to them.
When Bangalore had a garbage crisis, all that most of them did was complain. Why did so much of Bangalore complain about the garbage crisis? It was for one reason and only one – because they didn’t like their city smelling and they were worried about what illnesses THEIR children would have and the inconveniences THEIR families would go through.
Yet over the last five days, houses have been demolished through a most blatant transgression of every human right that man could think of and Bangalore didn’t notice?
Is Bangalore blind or dumb? Has Bangalore no moral character? Do Bangaloreans live in such a surreal world that they absolutely and doggedly refuse to comprehend that they need to see?
The EWS forced eviction has converted a productive, functional community to unhealthy beggars. People who said they didn’t need any kind of medical help five days ago are now queuing up in swelling numbers. Children who were well five days ago now have respiratory, gastrointestinal and skin diseases. What has Bangalore’s response been? The response has overwhelmingly been a lack of response. That somehow seems even better than some of the banal and pointless responses. “They weren’t supposed to be there in the first place’ says my Catholic friend whose family migrated to Bangalore from Mangalore several years ago in search of ‘better prospects’ and living on unlawfully acquired property. “That place looked bad and its good its gone’ says another friend whose face itself is a cause for concern.
Maybe the Hindus in Bangalore have karma to blame and I don’t know enough about the Muslims, but the Catholic middle class needs to know that this is the poor who one has been asked to love as oneself, these are the poor who are promised blessings, these are the poor that the New testament asks them in almost every line to love as oneself. Where is the response of the Catholic or Christian community of Bangalore? You should have been there at the forefront objecting to the humiliation that the poor dwellers of EWS are facing. You should have been offering them food and water and clothes and moral support. Instead you have the indecency to say that they should not have been there in the first place??
There are people who are now absolutely destitute. They have no place to go to. They live in large cement pipes exposed to every element. Harris said to them “Why are you living in these pipes? Do you pay a rent for them? People bring you food and water and you are getting comfortable” I want to ask him ‘Darling, if it is so comfortable why don’t you come and live here for a week or a month or better still forever?” He has the absolute audacity to become an MLA and forcibly evict people from their homes and then add insult to injury by throwing them even out of the streets where they have been forced to move to. Where does this audacity of an elected representative come from? It comes from the insensible middle class that is already glassy eyed with the prospect of a beautiful mall over the tombstone of a hundred different families. It comes from a middle class that has no social conscience, from a middle class that is so classist and casteist that it is an aberration of humaneness.
Where do the police get the audacity to abuse with the most demeaning of invectives, the women of the EWS quarters? How do police barge into homes with lathis and forcibly throw people’s things out? Again they get their sanction from the middle class that tut-tuts and says the police are only doing their job. Is the middle class so uneducated and so ill-informed that it cannot comprehend gross human rights violation when it is so in their faces? This is the same middle class that jumps up and down when some western nation does them some great perceived insult.
Where do the rowdies get their courage from? What gives them the courage to barge into homes and break them down? They are paid rowdies. They are paid by the BBMP to destroy the houses even as people live in them. What gives the BBMP its courage? Well, the middle class of course.
According to the middle class, there is a group of people who is sub-human. This group is comprised of their domestic help, their drivers, their vegetable vendors, their street cleaners and their ayahs. According to the middle class they can be kind to these people as they would to an animal. According to the middle class, if one of them or the rich acquire property through illegal means, it is fine.
In the middle class head, there is a divide between the rights of the educated and the non-educated, the rich and the poor, the upper caste and the lower caste, the urban and the rural. Those who are sub-human should not expect rights. This is the tragedy of the middle class in Bangalore. They will violate every human right, child right, women’s right, minority rights if it serves their own purpose.
Contrary to all the imagined understanding by the middle class of the EWS issue, the fact remains that the site BELONGs to the Economically Weaker Sections of society. The BBMP had to build houses for the EWS people. The BBMP sold out to Maverick holdings who stupidly say that people will be allotted houses in 8 months and should come back then.
Where are the Right to Education experts demanding that children cannot be allowed to miss school? Where are the Right to Health experts condemning the fact that a healthy productive community has been reduced to ill people?
Where are the Right to Food experts demanding that people cannot have their right to cook food taken away from them?
Where are the Right to water experts condemning the BBMP for destroying the water taps and water tanks at the very first blow?
Where are the Right to sanitation experts demanding that women need the dignity of having a toilet to go to?
Where are the Right to livelihood experts demanding that women and men be allowed to have the dignity of a job?
Where are the Right to shelter experts?
Where are the Women’s rights groups?
Where are the minority rights groups?
Where are the religious groups?
Where are the child rights groups?
This is one eviction the middle class of Bangalore CANNOT pretend not to know. This is one eviction in Bangalore that the middle class HAS to respond to. For every person who enters the mall built by Maverick holdings, there will be a thousand curses heaped on their heads.
If the middle class had even an iota of conscience, they would not allow the mall to be built at the site where the EWS people used to stay.