Independence


It’s been 66 years, we have journeyed far.

English: Map of the British Indian Empire from...

Map of the British Indian Empire from Imperial Gazetteer of India

The world had watched once as at the stroke of midnight our nation was born. At the stroke of midnight history was made. A country, democratic, free and united after over 400 years of autocracy. Countless human beings had suffered and many had not survived to witness this birth.

Diverse religions, beliefs, languages and a countless gods in the helm, pleasing everybody was out of question. There was criticism from all directions the north, north-east, south and the west, all had their own say. The streak of socialism in the leaders of those times ironed out some differences. Most of these still pose a threat to this democracy. They are the necessary evil that a democracy needs to strengthen. Perhaps India was the toughest test for democracy!

The Economist Intelligence Unit's 2010 Democra...

A map of the world, highlighted on a scale from light blue to black, based on the score each country received according to The Economist’s Democracy Index survey for 2010, from a scale of 10 to 0, with 10 being the most democratic, and 0 being the least democratic.

Whatever be the case, democracy may have had its victims but it has still given a voice to them and the freedom to represent. Rather our freedom of thought speech and action has  had sheltered another often tyrannous ally – the freedom to influence and be influenced. Power concentrated in few places have done what the British Raj had done then. Converting the rest of places into a market. Luxury has become necessity. Detachment from this has been virtually rendered impossible. Languages are being lost. Religions and cultures forgotten. Survival of the fittest is the rule of the world. Burning the land to build our empires of wood stone and concrete, oblivious to the cascading effects.

And yet we celebrate the 66th Independence day.

democracy's chorus

there’s no harmony in democracy’s chorus unless we all sing…

Mumbai’s heritage in a shed….


Bombay (renamed as Mumbai in 1995) a city of opportunities,a city of dreams unfulfilled, a city that conquers all hearts yet remains unconquered. Mumbai city(Metropolitan area) has a population of more than 12 million according to the 2011 Census of India, is highest in India, ranked 4th most populated in the world.

Who owns Mumbai now? 9 Million people(almost 60% of the population) live in self-made settlements or slums. This population serves the rest of the 40% population and yet is considered a vestigial organ of the city, a cancer or tumour spreading across it and a huge hurdle in its Shanghai dreams. The city is a living heritage and includes two UNESCO World Heritage sites– The Victoria Terminals(Renamed as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1966) and the Elephanta caves.Yet heritage is not always appreciated, often dimissed and sometimes dismissed, especially if it claims stake over the city, even if that stake doesn’t hold true now.

On the southern side stands the grand Gateway of India, built in 1915 to commemorate the arrival of King George V & Queen Marry in 1911. It has served as an entry for the British Raj that have ruled India for roughly 100 years. Yet this heritage could not be hid like the one that is hidden in the heart of the city.

Located near a  narrow lane next to Elphinstone College, off MG Road lies a legacy of the city, hidden from view, underneath a shed made of corrugated asbestos sheet. A small hole at the eye-level, will give you a glimpse of what lies within it. By far it is one of the most beautiful and yet sad site that I have seen in Bombay.

As you peer through this hole, two figures will materialize, at first almost looking ghastly, till your eyes adjust to the darkness. Then it will hit you, as you look around with an awestruck expression. Obvious questions will run through your mind, as to who must have put this here? Was it originally here? Were these brought here from somewhere else?

As your eyesight moves across the shed you will see that these are statues, a legacy of the British Raj and arguably the heritage of Modern Bombay.

What lies inside this shed are the statues of King Edward VIII and his royal predecessor, King George V

Statue_King_Edward _VIII_rohit_pansare

Statue of King Edward VIII

 Statue_George_VStatue of George V

An interesting read on Firstpost.  The author was the one who lead me to this place!