Sheila Dikshit has taken over as the Delhi Chief Minister for the third consecutive term. She has a big challenge ahead of her given that people have reposed their faith in the Congress party hoping for a better quality of life in the national capital.
But to have a better life, people have to participate in the governance and activities of the city in a big way. At this juncture I cannot help recalling the words of Delhi’s cleanest politician ever, the late Jag Parvesh Chandra who was the Chief Executive Councillor for seven years. Jag Parvesh had said that “Delhi is everyone’s mistress and no one’s wife’’ while commenting on the indifferent manner in which both the bureaucrats and top central politicians look at the capital city.
His words are very relevant since even the majority of people who live in the capital do not consider it their home. A blue-blooded Delhiite like me who was born and grew up in one of the best cities of this country agrees with him totally. Home for most of the people who live here is somewhere else in this country. This is true for even those who have lived in the city all their lives.
No. I am not going on to a Raj Thackeray type thinking which is “Mumbai for Maharashtrians. I am merely on the point that no city can evolve if the people who live in it do not have a sense of belonging. The city gets its character only from people who live there. If there is a sense of belonging, the city will grow in a better manner. If those living here think that it is only a temporary abode than their attitude will be very different.
Many have this wrong perception that Delhi is a city of uncouth Punjabis, banias and jats. Nothing can be further from truth. For all these communities, Delhi is a home and not just a temporary abode. Late M.L.Sondhi, former New Delhi MP used to always take pride in saying, “we Punjabis civilized Delhi and it is those who came to the city after us who have criminalized it’’. One may or not agree with his observations but the fact remains that one sees things differently if one is a permanent resident of a place. All of us have roots somewhere or the other but the loyalty factor to the city should always be there. Or how else can we build Delhi to be a better place. The US is a country of immigrants but the previous identity starts getting blurred once the baton starts getting passed on to the next generation. Similarly, Delhi being the national capital, everyone has a right to come and live here. But once that happens, the regional identities should go into the background and the national identity should take over. The best way of making the capital better is to participate in all kinds of positive activities. The demographics are changing like everywhere else but the city has to keep on growing into a far better place than it is at present. We owe this to posterity. Delhi should not merely remain a mistress.