Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Hawkers’

Hawker bill proposes 6-month jail

Quietly, the Government has decided that Mumbai hawkers will be banished out of sight, without sound. It stinks of elitist power abuse.

Why fight? Collude …

It is amazing what political consensus (some call it collusion) can achieve. Quietly, in the Winter session of the Maharashtra legislature, this anti-hawker bill was passed. Without a word of protest. Every political party – Congress, BJP, Shiv Sena joined hands to ensure passage of this bill.

Political Santa Claus 'accept' gifts before distributing 'favors'. Welcome to the 'modern' Welfare State. Bought and sold, even before you can say 'Constitution of India'! (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; Pub: Dec 2009) Click for larger images.

Political Santa Claus 'accept' gifts before distributing 'favors'. Welcome to the 'modern' Welfare State. Bought and sold, even before you can say 'Constitution of India'! (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; Pub: Dec 2009) Click for larger images.

In a bid to control illegal hawkers across Mumbai, the state legislative council on Tuesday passed a bill that proposes a jail term of six months along with a penalty ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 for individuals indulging in unauthorized hawking.Any unauthorized hawker caught red-handed would be fined Rs 5,000 the first time. If caught again, the fine would progressively increase and a repeated hawker would attract the maximum fine of Rs 50,000.

The bill will now go to the governor for his assent.(via Hawker bill proposes 6-month jail).

According to estimates, there are over 2.5 lakh illegal hawkers in Mumbai, while only 17,000 vendors hold valid licences. Interestingly, the BMC has not issued a single new licence in the last 20 years, while the number of hawkers continues to grow with every passing year, sources disclosed.

As stated in the Tuesday bill, “It will be mandatory for each individual who wishes to start a hawking business to obtain a licence from the civic body. The definition of hawkers covers roadside vendors and persons conducting business on roads and artisans.” (via Hawker shocker, News – Cover Story – Mumbai Mirror).

With such political ‘unity’, when all political parties unite against the citizens, India will surely ‘progress.’

The Government must not stop at this.

Forget about questioning me. Have a TV to hear my answer ...? My only fear is that such an attitude may well be the reality. (Cartoonist - Kirtish Bhatt; Posted: Feb 18th, 2011). Click for larger image.

Forget about questioning me. Have a TV to hear my answer ...? My only fear is that such an attitude may well be the reality. (Cartoonist - Kirtish Bhatt; Posted: Feb 18th, 2011). Click for larger image.

Public interest

Further, the Government must acquire all hawking space. After acquiring the hawking space, roads must be broadened. These hawkers crowd roads and reduce the car-driving pleasure of the Uber-rich and the Unter-rich. The Uber-rich and the Unter-rich have a sacred right to the pleasure of comfortable car driving as per the latest UN’s Human Rights Charter.

Do not disturb

I would go further and recommend that the Government acquire hawking space so that the comfortable can remain comfortable.

Just like the Government acquires land for factories, so the rich can remain rich or become richer.

Discomfort to the Rich and Comfortable may turn these rare species into an endangered species. If the Rich and Comfortable turn into an endangered species, who will become the icons of Rising India?

The dirty, ragged hawker!

I command thee … Progress!

I am also not forgetting that the hawkers ‘snatch’ business from all the glitzy glass-and-chrome malls – a major crime.

After sinking thousands of crores in these prestigious glass-and-chrome malls, investors find themselves powerless in the face of these hawkers. Will the Government abandon these investors, who have invested thousands of crores for India’s prestige and progress.

So many poor people, in full public view is also bad, for the eyes. And bad for India’s image abroad.

The poor must remain quiet – and out of sight.

Make way for the bribe takers - These are not the bribe-tigers fighting corruption. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; source and courtesy - bamulahija.com). Click for larger image.

Make way for the bribe takers - These are not the bribe-tigers fighting corruption. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; source and courtesy - bamulahija.com). Click for larger image.

Only 6 Months in Jail?

The Government must not stop at just extorting heavy penalties and imprisoning these hawkers. This problem of hawkers will not go away by simple penalties and imprisonment.

I would suggest that instead of imprisonment or heavy fines, hawkers must face some light gun-fire.

By the way, most of these dirty, ragged hawkers are also dark brown or black in colour. Another good reason to shoot them. They should be shot.

Definitely, certainly, urgently.

Learning to live with hawkers

In every Indian town, there is always space for an English medium school, a play ground for Western sports, money for Western auditoriums, stadiums, theaters.

Mere paas democracy hai!  |  Creative, publisher credits embedded. Cartoon date - April 2008

Mere paas democracy hai! | Creative, publisher credits embedded. Cartoon date – April 2008

Several realities need to be grasped at the outset. India is not China and you cannot get rid of hawkers in busy parts of Kolkata by doing a mini Tiananmen Square. The hawkers have been earlier successfully removed without serious violence because they knew they would be able to get back. The latest move recognises this, even though the motive, with an eye on elections, is insincere. There is no point in playing around with words like “sunshine” and “sunset” in headlines because Operation Sunshine-I has not and Operation Sunshine-II will not work. It is not an available option. Conversely, regularising hawkers is no real solution to the unemployment problem or poverty. Left unchecked and carried to its logical conclusion, hawkers will cover not just pavements but entire carriageways. (via Subir Roy: Learning to live with hawkers).

This is the nicest thing he's given us, so that he can come once every five years to make an election speech.

This is the nicest thing he’s given us, so that he can come once every five years to make an election speech.

Poor should not be seen or heard

Subir Roy’s tone, from the heart of India’s English-speaking, urban, middle class sees hawkers as a ‘necessary’ evil. China is the epitome of this economic approach. And India is moving down that road – quite fast.

The biggest block is when the establishment loses touch with the people. For Indian instances, look at modern Indian city planning. In each new Indian township, there is always space for an English medium school, always space for a play ground where Western sports can be played, always space for Western style auditoriums, stadiums, theaters, etc. The Indian State is spending huge amounts of money on the Commonwealth Games.

But there is a funds constraint for Indian sports like polo, kabaddi, wrestling, unarmed combat, etc. Why is it that (almost) all the mandis in every city (at least I have lived in) has come up in pre-Independence India. No modern township sets up a mandi.

If the poor insist on being seen and heard, then throw them a few bones!

Why bother? Do they matter?  |  Ajit Ninan cartoon; source & courtesy - indiatimes.com; dated January 10, 2010

Why bother? Do they matter? | Ajit Ninan cartoon; source & courtesy – indiatimes.com; dated January 10, 2010

The poor are such a bother …

From Davos to Delhi, the rich, the famous and the powerful never talk of infrastructure for the poor.

1. In no road broadening proposal, are public toilets included in the infrastructure, in any city. The rich don’t need public toilets – and hence none are built.

2. While the Government puts its most powerful bureaucrats, tramples on all and sundry to acquire land for large industrial projects, how come such resolve in never seen in acquiring land for landless agricultural labour?

3. Instead of giving various tax-breaks and crafting municipal laws for large malls and shopping plazas for the rich, how about building reserving some road space for hawkers. After all, hawkers are the lowest-cost retailers – and will drive even a Walmart out of business. Indians consumers love hawkers – and hawkers resist all Government attempts to kill hawking.

4. How about temporary housing ‘infrastructure’ for poor, migrant workers, who pay exorbitant prices for shanties in slums. How come no rich lobby ever talks about such infrastructure?

The poor ... preferably, not to be seen ... definitely, not to be heard!

The poor … preferably, not to be seen … definitely, not to be heard!

5. How about some increase in public transport? Why does everyone talk about more road space – and so little about public transport. Instead of the Bandra-Worli sea-link, Mumbai could have put some 3000 electric buses on the road. Mumbai traffic would have been vastly better off with these 3000 electric buses instead of the Bandra-Worli sea-link.

6. Why is Bangalore still without a decent rail based public transport system? Why is Bangalore bus service so sparse – while everyone talks about the traffic jams in Bangalore!

All these ‘infrastructure’ projects will lower the urban costs, make urban economics low capital, and benefit the poor. Is it that I am afflicted by selective amnesia that I don’t see media coverage of such ‘infrastructure’ or is it that the poor don’t matter anyway.

Of course, Government sponsorship of such projects will immediately increase costs and bureaucracy. Such ‘infrastructure’ should be funded, built and based on users’ payments. But then, isn’t it always better to do a joint private-public project? That way the Rich and the Powerful are both on the same side!

Against the poor.

Big Money and Big Power - married to each other!

Big Money and Big Power – married to each other!

Return of the Raj

The one thing that the British Raj did better than independent India was build massive ‘edifices’ in their last 60 years. This helped them to hide the enormous poverty and misery that the Raj created.

In Mumbai this has created a conservation industry. Of Colonial buildings! Rudyard Kipling’s bungalow is more important that Lokmanya Tilak’s! Don’t even mention the Chaphekar Brothers! May Mumbai’s Buddhist caves go to ruination.

Among India’s chatterati, glitterati, the papparazzi, there is barely concealed longing for a return of the Raj. This hides a deeper malaise. The need for an Asuric Raj, which will build gleaming towers, glass and chrome plazas, shopping malls for the rich.

But we are not going to let this bother us!

Are we?

%d bloggers like this: