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    Posted November 30, 2013 by
    Delhi, India
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    AAP: A Tale of Two Delhi Slums

    Sangam Vihar and Metro Vihar are slums on opposite ends of Delhi. Sangam Vihar has open sewage, mounds of garbage, long queues for water, high voltage transmission lines over rooftops, and regular outbreaks of water-borne diseases. Metro Vihar, under Narela constituency, is a different story altogether. My co-volunteer from Narela, Rakesh Dhaya, tells me, if there an urban Inferno on earth, “it is here, it is here, it is here.” Rakesh has visited Metro Vihar recently as part of Narela constituency campaign. Metro Vihar is packed with clustered hovels surrounded by sewage and piled up garbage. The lanes separating rows of low structures are littered with human waste. Men, women, children wash themselves on these lanes without any privacy. Needless to say there are no toilets and no public services. Rakesh’s reaction was more than outrage. Rakesh has felt shame and self-reproach to the extent that he wants to work with Metro Vihar community regardless of the results of the election.
    I have sometimes wondered if there is some quantitative measure of public discontent. Historically, isolated events have been attributed to mass uprisings: Mutiny of the sailors of the battleship Potemkin preceding the Russian Revolution, price of bread preceding the French Revolution, more recently, the resignation of Prime ministers Nazif and Shafik in Egypt triggering end of Hosni Mubarak. The truth is that that there are clear signals much before things precipitate and get out of control. Such is the current phase in India’s rising discontent and popular dissatisfaction. AAP, I believe, with its progressive agenda is providing a safety valve mechanism that provides us a collective pause. Can things spiral out of control, nobody knows for sure. The political establishment may want to take this pause seriously and analyze where the nation stands and evaluate the risks of continuing with the status quo.
    In Dante’s Inferno (The Divine Comedy), the protagonist is guided by poet Virgil to journey from regions of Hell to Purgatory and Paradise. We hope that our political parties will not be satisfied with the status quo and will be guided by political reform to journey towards honest and responsible governance.

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