Can a wall give you a hint of a town's sense of values? You be the judge. Many of us have seen the Sophia School's walls for many years. You may have also read the writings on the wall. A different kind of writing. Messages in Hindi and English. Quotes from the Bible and from St. Francis of Assisi. One can see many people actually stop and read the sayings in the mornings. Some will remember that it was not always so. The wall used to be plastered with posters of coaching institutes, beauty parlours and cinema halls. After the writings came up no one in Meerut was so thick-skinned as to cover them with cheap posters.
Until this year . In April when Nauchandi came one saw a small section covered with Circus posters. And then came the Elections , those really blow the senses. Again some areas got covered. What is gratifying about this is - the insensibility towards unworldly things came from those who were obviously outsiders. Consider this too. The Bilge now flows through the center of every house in this town and all over the world. To create its impact the Bilge more often than not reclines on something which can only be called an inverse culture. Praise the Lord that some us are impervious to it.
Did you think it was going to wind up in a few months? Well you were wrong. It is going to be a raging success. And you thought McDonalds was a false alarm. Well work is on in full swing and any day now there will be no standing space in the Complex. Just step into the place and you are not only out of Meerut you are out of the country. There is an escalator too. It is still wrapped in Polythene and leads to the Bowling alley. Yes! Bowling alley!!. At Cafe Coffee Day we had to wait for at least 5 minutes for a table to get free. No money in your pocket ? Just go and watch the glass elevators go up and down.
Did you know that there is an Airstrip near Partapur? Which means we could soon have a proper flying club. Now how about a Gokarting place?
Notice something.. it is August hot and sticky. There is no Electricity. At least not worth bothering about. The nice thing is nobody ever mentions the disruption. It is now an ancient way of life. Somehow the brilliant people who are allowed to manage these essential utilities think that it is OK to disconnect the Electricity from at least 8am to 2pm. ( Even during seasons when there is no additional load for either heating or cooling). A normal working day is 9 to 5. And God knows how many times it goes off after that. It is dangerous specially after dark. This has been so for the last 5 years at least and deteriorating, rapidly. Essential utilities are supposed to improve the quality of life!
So people in Meerut have become backward over the years. And now the authorities think they don't need any Electricity at all. But they must pay for it through a smart device called minimum charges. There is a justification for this anomaly. After all unlike private Industry the staff strength stays the same even with decreasing output or low output or even no output.(Why else are Govt. jobs so highly coveted?)
Just a few observations . A few years ago - less than a decade back. There were a number of Large Industries in the surrounding areas. They were all founded by local entrepreneurs without any collaboration. By large I mean employee strengths going up to about a 1000 or so employees. Their carcasses now line the Meerut Ghaziabad road. Count the ones on the main road without going deeper. Dewan Rubber, Electra Transformers, IndoKem Pharma. The entire Modinagar is a graveyard except for the Sugar Mill*. Jain Tubes, Poysha. And towards the north - Modi Continental** (above 1000).Is it a coincidence that their demise has coincided with unreliable Electricity? Electricity was not the main cause for all these but it certainly contributed to their demise. Can even medium size industry flourish without a stable Electric supply ?
The nice thing about politicians is that they cannot distinguish between fact and fiction, and between saying and doing. They paid for it in the last election. They will pay again. Somehow India can shine by going backward. Somehow it will become a Super power without Electricity. As an article TOI recently pointed out. How do we make the Babus and other secure Govt. Employees pay? Forget about becoming a super power , sadly we will never reach there. Let us think of employment. So many Management Institutes have come up on the Meerut Delhi Road. Can't they revive the dead industries, to provide much needed employment? They would have to start with the unreliable power situation though and that will have to wait for the next generation. At least they could get Modi Lanterns working with Generators. Remember the talk about rural electrification and clean drinking water in villages. Now this is not even available in the Capital city. Don't forget we have a Planning Commission which is supposed to have extrapolated in advance the requirement of Power, Water, Drainage, Housing,Communication etc. decades back. Certainly, it is the most coveted of Babu assignments.
* Note: Sugar Mills generate their own electricity, from the husk of sugar cane. As far as rural electrification is concerned let's have mini power houses catering for perhaps 10 to 20 villages. These are desirable just for the local employment potential. At least part of the fuel needs could be met by the enormous amount of combustible waste agriculture generates. And in windy places - wind power generators. These start generating within months, and have zero fuel costs. Electricity in remote and sparsely populated regions is supplied by cooperatives in the US.
** Modi Continental was bad management rather than Electricity. They had a captive power supply.
An email from Mr. Peter Jones in England.
Just a quick note from Southampton, England to thank you for your site. I have enjoyed about an hour looking at it.
Normally I would not have contacted you, but my travels in southern England yesterday and a remark you made on the very last page of your site have prompted me to do so.
Your remark, just before the end, was "... of a town whose name disappears from the milestones ( or is it Kilometer stones ?) 60 km on either side.". I thought I would let you know that this is, in a manner of speaking, not correct.
Yesterday, while out with friends in southern England looking for our heritage (the Duke of Wellington and his house at Stratfield Saye) we had occasion to drive past a road, Meerut Road, in the small town of Tidworth, Hampshire. The name was familiar because I had two years previously bought an old car from a person who lived in another Meerut Road. So there are two references to Meerut on road name plates in southern England. Not mile stones perhaps but there for all to see.
One of the Meerut Road signs is in the village of Brockenhurst, Hampshire. It is situated in the New Forest, a new National Park in England and quite important for historical and other reasons. You can find it here: Click here
I hope this url works, otherwise go to http://www.multimap.com and enter Brockenhurst as the place name. The New Forest is particularly beautiful. The car I bought there has a loose connection with India. The car is a Triumph Herald - also made in India in various forms including the Standard Gazel long after it stopped production here, I believe.
The Meerut Road I saw yesterday (and what really started all this) was in Tidworth, Hampshire. I do not know the area well but it is a British Army Garrison Town and so the name Meerut would have significant meaning there.
You can find this at: Click here What prompted me to look at your site was the 'alien-sounding' name which the first time I saw it did not prompt me to further action. On seeing it a second time yesterday, it became much more prominent. Now, I have to confess that Meerut and its significance in Indian history was not known to me. A Google search turned up your site and here I am.
Perhaps you are succeeding in your other stated mission too.
Good luck with the site and best wishes