Yesterday, a drunk 21 year old, typical rich, spoilt Dilli da Munda, driving a swanky Honda City, gifted by his Dad became the Devil incarnate on Delhi’s infamous roads. Apparently, Rishabh, well that’s his name, had had quite a weekend, staying up late with his friends, binging on alcohol, may be some drugs as well. After an evening well spent, Rishabh dozed off around 3:30 AM and got up at 5:30 AM. In spite of clearly being drunk and not even remotely capable of driving a vehicle, Rishabh pushed off, homeward bound. On his way, he met a morning walker whose misfortune meant that he was on the same road as this drunk driver. In a matter of seconds, Rishabh knocked him over and killed him at the very moment.
With alcohol rushing in his veins, Rishabh did not, for a moment stop his vehicle or even seek help for the dead man. He drove on, only to next hit Santosh, who was busy cleaning cars. Santosh was critically injured and is now dangling between life and death. Even with 2 victims, Rishabh’s alcohol fuelled bloodlust was not satiated. Rishabh now sped off in the wrong lane, where he found his third and final victim- an elderly man, out for his routine morning walk. The poor, old man saw the speeding vehicle and tried to reach the pavement, but death arrived before he could make it. By the time the Police arrived and a crowd gathered, Rishabh had already fled the scene.
Apparently, the Police had to chase Rishabh before they caught up with him. He was in such a drunk stupor that he couldn’t even stand up.
Rishabh was not even remotely remorseful, asking for a cigarette lighter from the policeman, as he staggered out of his car. He even asked the Police to collect the compensation for his victims from his Dad. This 21 year old, son of a rich businessman, enjoying the ‘good life’ brought untold grief and misery to the lives of many others. In the bylanes of Janakpuri, rendered narrow by cars parked on both sides, Rishabh was driving at a speed of 100 Kmph. Rishabh covered a distance of 1.5 Kms at this speed during which he claimed two lives and has almost extinguished the life of another. His blood alcohol level was over 5 times the permissible limit. But for a city used to such instances, this is barely news, let alone news that evokes strong reactions.
Historically, the post-independence Delhi was born out of the sweat and blood of the refugees of partition who arrived in the city in droves, leaving behind their possessions in Rawalpindi and Karachi and Peshwar and other places in the newly founded Pakistan. With their hard work and the sweat of their brow, these refugees built new lives for themselves and their families. Their joy was the fruit of their hard work, seeing in their children capable of supporting themselves and leading a comfortable life. As times passed, prosperity came to the city. Land began to get sold at exorbitant prices for Malls, cineplexes etc., there was a property boom in Gurgaon and Noida, resulting in people becoming rich overnight.
As India’s economy boomed, people in general began to do well. The old parental attitude of enabling children to stand up on their feet was in many cases replaced by meeting children’s demands, pampering them, shielding them from censure and pandering to their whims and fancies. This became particularly visible from the 90s onwards, when economic liberalization made disposable money available as it had never been. Soon, family values began to change. Alcohol gained acceptance, night outs at friends’ became common and gradually societal conservatism gave way to liberalism without any moral compunctions. Instead of becoming a cog in the wheel of society, people began focussing on their rights, completely ignoring their duties. Loud music could be played all night long, irrespective of the discomfort it could cause to neighbours. Traffic lights could be jumped with impunity, without a thought for fellow motorists. Vehicles could be parked awkwardly, without a worry about the traffic jams they could cause. Strangers could fight like cats and dogs, exchanging the most disgusting swear words, with no consideration for kids playing nearby.
Culturally and Morally, Delhi seems to be a decaying city. The influx of easy money, with easy availability of alcohol and drugs and a pervading culture of all rights and no duties will soon make the city unlivable.
The lack of strong leaders, both socially and culturally has meant that there are no moral compasses to be looked at for direction. Already, Parents think twice before sending their girl children to Delhi for further studies. Women’s safety continues to be abysmal, even after the horrific 2012 incident. Motorists live another day only at the mercy of their fellow travellers. Pedestrians’ life is dependent on the control exercised by the driver of a speeding bus. Children’s lives are frequently snuffed out on the most trivial of issues, disputes between neighbours for instance. The elderly cannot enjoy a tranquil walk in the neighbourhood park for there might be a drunk driver on the corner. What sense does it make for a middle class man to reside in Delhi, slogging away for 8-10 hours in office and another 2-3 hours in Delhi’s pathetic traffic, to shell out tens of thousands for a hovel to reside in, with no security for himself and his family? No wonder more and more Indians are preferring to settle in Tier II and Tier III cities, where the culture is still more familiar and life relatively easy. Sadly, this is true not only of Delhi but of most of India’s metropolises.
As far as Rishabh is concerned, he will probably be released after some days behind the bars.
Next, the case will come up for hearing before courts. Facts will be twisted, witnesses will go hostile, and Police will be upbraided for filing a shoddy report. After 10-12 years of hearing, Rishabh will be released for lack of evidence. His victims, in the meanwhile, will continue to struggle on a daily basis. They will go on blaming their misfortune for the fate that befell them. Our political leaders will not talk of the need to enforce morals, to regulate liquor, to bring strong laws to punish the likes of Rishabh, because it would be seen as not being liberal. There will however, be endless debates and probably no action on changes to laws. You might even hear of some politicians fighting for Rishabh’s rights. After a couple of days, media will stop speaking of the case and life as usual will go on, until the next case, that is. Then the cycle will repeat itself, endlessly, case after case.
Sadly, No one seems to be asking the question, what is becoming of Delhi, my city!