The current spate of viral, dengue, malaria, chickunguniya and other such air-borne and water-borne diseases in Delhi NCR, Chennai, and many other cities has once again forced the working middle-class and the government authorities to re-think ways to improve health and hygiene conditions in their living surroundings. It is not easy though, considering the quality of air that we breathe and the quality of water that we drink, to eradicate these malaise of acute and unhindered urbanisation anytime soon in near future. For most citizen, and squarely for most in government, it’s a routine affair that they have to deal with every season when monsoon comes and goes. Very few seem to be genuinely interested in finding long-term and sustainable solutions to improve the living conditions.
Most of the working lower-middle, middle, and upper-middle classes have hardly got time to think of anything other than the most challenging aspect of their survival in a metropolis- how to keep their job safe and intact! The sluggish pace of economic growth and declining new employment generation opportunities have further added to the worries of the working class, especially those in the upper spectrum of middle-class, i.e. the corporate executives leading a so-called classy and modern lifestyle, thriving on easy loans and managing to pay their monthly EMIs, who are engineers, MBAs, doctors, accountants, and so on.
As if demonetisation was not enough, the shrinking job opportunities in manufacturing sector and limited job opportunities in service sector in Tier-II and smaller cities have further contributed to unmitigated migration from smaller cities and villages to metropolitan cities, thereby burdening the metro city’s already crumbling infrastructure to horrifying level. Maintenance on roads and flyovers has been increasing every quarter. Real estate sector too is witnessing challenges with some major business houses in this promising sector unable to sustain the pace of development due to poor financial and project management.
For the new entrant youth in a metro city with their big city dream, the wide roads, glass façade buildings, modern architecture, reasonably better maintained parks than what they have seen since their childhood in smaller cities where they lived, the glittering charm of big shopping malls, youth in minimal or sub-optimal clothing, metro rail, air-conditioned city buses, and so on, are enough to carry and lift them to a psychological state where they start thinking of themselves as sort of “arrived” on the scene. The struggle of a family is secondary, and something that they can manage in very much the same way their predecessors have until now. It’s been going on for years and decades.
Life in a metro goes on, thus!
Few, very few, actually try to change their living conditions in a true sense. We hear thousands of educated youth applying for PR to Canada and Australia. Going to USA has become tough, off late! But they will find their way, somehow, after few years. These guys know for sure that the working conditions in companies, Indian or multi-national, in India, will not change anytime sooner because there is an unending race here in India to rise, get promoted, and earn more that’s going on in somewhat uncontrolled manner. Companies have been spending thousands of dollars on its employees to train them through world renowned trainers and agencies to teach them importance of ethics in leadership and organizational development, but in vain! Politics and lack of team work are traits Indian middle class find very difficult to part with. Most of them have actually come from background where their parents were employed in government sector or Indian private sector and have thus seen through their upbringing what it takes to “manage” in our Indian society.
Indians employed and deployed in foreign countries are much better off, but then not all Indians can find their way to foreign shores.
The challenge is to manage our aspirations. Government on its part is promoting Make in India and Skill India programmes very aggressively, but lack of a conducive global investment climate has somewhat dampened the whole brilliant programme, though all is not lost. India is still better off than many other Asian countries in attracting foreign investment. The Renewable energy sector is a good example with new capacities getting added in Solar and Wind almost every month keeping in mind the ambitious target the Power ministry has kept for itself to meet by 2022.
But growth stories and success stories have been few and sporadic. And same way as government’s programmes and aspirations get derailed, the common working classes also see their dream and aspirations wavering as the overall climate seem unfavourable and suffocating.
But the mornings will be no different for millions of metro city dwellers. As sun comes out, there is a mad rush to reach to their working places, and then there is no looking back. By evening when they finish their day, it is too tired for them to allow any new innovative idea to breed inside their minds that could potentially change their tomorrow. A few who try with a glass of whisky or a mug of beer in their hands are actually the saner lot, who have learnt and mastered the effective way of handling the life’s many challenges. What others think to be a mad rush is actually an organised chaos for them!