Roads are an integral part of our lives, our life lines to be precise. Well developed roads are a major sign of a developed society and contribute towards prosperity of a Nation.
Well, apart from serving the ‘common man’ roads are prominent contributors in making or breaking of a Political Party, rather it would be apt to say that, Politics and Roads go hand in hand.
At least for the electoral season, road trips and our Netas (politicians) become inseparable, but after the seasonal change of wining or losing, the loyalties of our leaders also change. This short love story comes to a halt for another five years.Roads are less taken now.
Soon the Ruling class is seen flying high on success, touching the skies, or rather would term it as on ‘cloud nine’, the aerial views become a frequent occurrence and roads like the jilted lovers or the ditched ones are seen lying in apathy and neglect, the winners ignore them and losers curse them. It is only the aam janta(common man) who sympathizes with them, but beyond that, their hands are tied, due to lack of facilities, these roads are more of an obstacle tracks for them now.
There were times when these roads played a vital role in reaching to the masses, but now they are class apart, for our ruling class, as they hold no charm or mass appeal for them, they are rather put in the category of ‘outcasts’ , and travelling by them is like doing a favor to them, by occasionally gracing the roads with occasional touch up and brush-ups, before landing on them.
This attitude would be aptly described, by quoting the dialogue from the popular yesteryear’s movie “Pakeezah” : “yeh paer zameen par mat rakhna varna malle ho jayenge” ( The moment you put feet on the ground they will get dirty).
The foster treatment is meted to the poor roads, as our Netas want no less then helicopter sorties for normal routine work also, but then their time is much precious, and not to be wasted on road journeys, but it is a pity that these machines cannot always drop them to their desired locations, and henceforth the heavenly bliss has to face the earthly side or would say the road less taken comes into play. The minor role of the roads come into existence, so roads like a loyalist lays its red-carpet to the royalists, makes way for them, obstructing the traffic by blocking and barricading the routes to the aam janta, with its red traffic light, even if it is the patients in the ambulances or poor pedestrians. The green light signal and the red carpet treatment on the road, is only applicable for the high and mighty, to an extent that even the Green corridors only become functional at the arrival of a Very important person with sirens and flashing lights.
But as the purpose is served, the substantial roads become substandard for the leaders, Instead of upgrading them, our politicians leave them half-way in neglect and themselves move forward towards the ‘road to success’ .
Many times these roads witnessed Padyatras, dharnas,roadshows, riots , blockages,hoardings, banners, and even inaugurations of intersections, round abouts, even naming and re-naming them, or even using them as urinals, leaving the poor commuters in lurch and confused with names and directions to be followed after changing of the names.
But roads always greeted its Netas and their rallies with open arms, even if they left them in shabby state with pamphlets, pile of garbage, used bottles, cups and debris.
The odd and even treatment given to the roads by our ruling parties has never hampered our netas journey or travelling, but only our public has come to a halting point.
The temporary make-up done on arrival of leaders soon got washed away with single drizzle or sprinkling, has always brought to light the shoddy work and pace in repairing or constructing them.
Roads are synonymous with the term ‘King Maker’, the rallies and strength of common man on them, decides the success or failure of a political party. Though the smooth roads like the soft cheeks of an actress is still a distant dream for us, or very ‘short-lived’, because as soon the pot-holes, crevices and cracks begin to appear, they gift the public with its bumpy rides and puddles, acting as natural speed breakers for us.
Roads hold contraries , like our politicians, they are a Paradox, as they remain at a fixed position, but still takes us or go places , takes us to our destination.
But the mango people of a banana republic, cannot take favours for free, and so the returns in form of taxes and toll-barriers are bombarded on their way.
As we fight for maneuvering spaces, right to way, looking left, right, centre , our politicians with their special stickers of exemptions and the tag line “its my way or highway’ take shortcuts without the indicators crossing their speed-limits and leaving us at a dead-end of chaos and jams.
But this vicious circle never ends, soon we become part of another party following their foot-steps, reverting to old, congested lanes, by-lanes and alleys, where roads become part of continuous charade of lecturing, speeches and mud-slinging. The visible rough-patches, hurdles and rides again appear as a ‘mirage’ for us, , so with our walking sticks we walk on these neglected paths again.
We do not realize it is a mere illusion for us, a disguise, as for us ‘ all roads do not lead to Rome’. On these roads we will only find the names of mighty and begging hands of the down-trodden.
But, despite of all this, we love our roads as they are our connecting link with the outside world, it is we who are responsible for their deplorable state. For a better Nation , road links have to be in a healthy state, as they are the major contributor of our bread and butter, whether for travelling miles or few yards, everything is dependent on them.
Instead of acting as a Rasta-chaap or roadside romeos or throwing others on the road or crossroads and making a road show of our Nation , lets contribute towards a better traffic sense , bringing down the toll of road rage accidents, let us not over-speed the matters, but with a calm mind and approach, give way to others so that our long neglected roads are on the road to recovery.