India is progressing. That much we all know. It is visible everywhere – in highly populated metro hubs as well as in slow, sleepy towns. There is only one, permanent season here. Not Monsoon, neither Summer. Nope, it’s Construction Season, year round! Shiny new malls, overly-daunting skyscrapers dot almost every town (big and small).
But, at what cost?
Vadodara has welcomed this season with a widely open heart. My grandma’s wonderful home of 20 years, in the heart of the city, was acquired five years ago by commerce-driven businessmen looking to capitalize on Booming India. It was torn down and replaced by a snazzy mall.
Recently, malls have taken the back seat to road construction in the city. It has caught the Flyover Bug that Mumbai had at the turn of the 21st century. Road improvement is definitely needed to alleviate the terrible traffic congestion that plagues the city.
However, in the process of building these, many surrounding homes have had to be destroyed. These houses belong to the underprivileged who lack both the voice to oppose and the money to bribe officials. Fine – for civic improvement, such a step is needed. Yet, these citizens are not given immediate alternative housing nor compensation to purchase one. In all fairness, the government does guarantee housing for the displaced 2 years down the line. But where is one to go in the time interim?
Progress should not be just measured via the increasing number of expensive, imported cars of the Classes but also through the improvement of the basic standard of living (a human right) for the Masses.