Public Policy

Prasad, the Kabaddi wala was in despair. With corporatization and technology his income had dwindled. Now people, whenever they wanted to dispose off their recyclable waste would call some aggregator through an app and get it all lifted. Who had the time or inclination to engage a ragged guy who went from bylane to bylane, screaming at the top of his voice and then haggle with him on price.

His family of five did have some lucky days when they could get to eat to a full stomach however most days were just a compromise between starvation and satiation.

Today as he made his way through the dusty streets of old Delhi, a lady who must have been in her late eighties, hailed him. She had lot of old utensils and artifacts that she wanted to dispose of. Among them was a big aluminium box which had a carpet rolled in it and also a strange looking lamp wrapped in there.

As he brought the stuff home and showed it to the family, the lamp fell from his hands. Lo and behold a genie appeared. It was not the green big bulky genie of past but a more suave, suited and spectacled version.

“What can I do for you my lord”. It inquired. “Since you have called me, I am happy to grant you three wishes”.

Prasad and his family were overjoyed. They had seen the Arabian nights as a TV series but could not believe that it was real. Still incredulous, they decided to go along with it as they had nothing to lose.

“Genie ji, can you ensure that I have a big house filled with a big treasure so that lifelong financial troubles of me and my family are taken care of”. Prasad stammered.

“Sure” Genie answered.” That’s easy. However would it be ok if I gave you a big house in Gurgoan instead of Delhi as real estate market in Delhi is really crowded and empty spaces are difficult to locate without inviting a run in with the DDA. “

“Sure Sure, no problem” Prasad agreed hastily.

Next, Prasad was very concerned with rampant poverty and hunger that infected large masses of delhi like a plague. Having traveled extensively in the underbelly of the city he had seen the worst of it. So his next wish was

“Genie ji, now that we are looked after, I want that the entire population of Delhi should have enough to eat, have clean drinking water and proper healthcare, so that no one dies from lack of basic amenities.”

“That is done”. The genie said. “What is your third wish?”.

“Let me ask you that later”, Prasad postponed.

As days passed and daily amenities in the city were assured, a change started to surface in Delhi. People started to expect and demand more space for their living, better street lights in their locality, free security for their colonies, more responsive police force, door to door public transport facilities etc. In fact soon vested groups started to descend on city streets, demanding gay rights, enhanced reservation in govt jobs, women empowerment, students union protests… Within next couple of months, the city descended in a state of siege with daily protests on something or other and on some occasions even sporadic violence breaking out.

Prasad, rubbed the lamp again.

“Can you revert the city to its original state of daily struggle, though with one change, that little children do not go to bed hungry.’

“Sure that will be done. You are being wise by asking for an incremental change and that too the most urgent one, instead of a global cure for all ills. Big changes in public affairs, if you want to usher them, are best brought about by taking baby steps”. So saying the genie finally disappeared for good.

Leave a comment