In a crisis, it isn't resilience but the helplessness of Mumbaikars that lets them carry on

The ‘resilience’ of the Mumbai residents is often celebrated in the media. Every time a crisis occurs, they bear it with equanimity, and look to get on with their lives. Because, they can do little else.

It is not their resilience, but their helplessness. They make, and rightly so, a virtue of it. What is the harm if they get stamped that way?

The word resilient has a positive ring to it if you go by the dictionary meaning. Merriam-Webster puts it 'as tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change'; Cambridge says it is being ‘able to quickly return to a previous good condition.’

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The latest incident which brought out this characteristic in the Mumbaikars was the disruption of train services for two hours on Wednesday. And its impact spilled over to Thursday, when over 50 train services were cancelled on the Central Railway.

They had an explanation for it: "The rakes could not reach their stabling lines on schedule. Besides, train crew staff got stuck because of which trains could not be moved out on time. Moreover, the delay in arrival and departure of long-distance services till Thursday affected punctuality."

The railways are stretched, and such consequences are likely to happen when everything is not prim and proper, but run like a jugaad of sorts. No doubt, the platforms are raised after the high court order, or ambulances are placed at some stations or medical aid clinics are opened.

If about 10 people die every day across Central, Western, and Harbour lines because of overcrowding, people still have to use them risking their lives, as they are helplessness. They chose the city not because it was a preferred destination for residence, but for employment. Despite that they remain helpless.

The point is, the city residents are also averse to an Arab moment as that would disrupt their lives further. Mumbai wants to work like a clock, because the mechanism so decides. The resilience bid is pure poppycock. If resilience it is, then it is because they are forced to spring back into their routines.

There was a disruption of electric supply, and everything went haywire and trains stopped on their tracks. No power in overcrowded compartments with no room for passengers to pull out a newspaper to fan themselves, it was a horrific situation. Imagine getting stuck in a train like that inside Parsik tunnel.

After the great flood of 25 July – almost biblical, isn’t it? There was a talk of trying to provide an alternative road route, say between Thane and Kalyan, another distant suburb. Where is the design, plan, and funds, leave alone its building?

At that time, the city discovered that what it thought was a drain, was actually a river. And even now, that river which has narrowed because of encroachment, silted by muck from the city residents, and retained there by a callous politician-contractor-bureaucrat system, is not entirely restored.

Each stormwater drain, on whose ability, depends the efficiency or punctuality of commuter trains, is taken up for clearing even as the monsoon is in the face. The contractors pretend they cleaned it, hoping the rain would wash away the muck, but no, it doesn’t.

The roads too whose pre-monsoon repairs had been often directed to be completed by the high court, but the contractors continue to steal on quality, and some have billed the city, despite not carrying out the work.

Any number of examples can be cited, which underscore how the city residents are put to trouble. They just bear it, now welcome it. Because, life in Mumbai is one of helplessness. Just nobody bothers, they know, so why make a song and dance of it?


Published Date: May 27, 2016 02:54 pm | Updated Date: May 27, 2016 02:59 pm


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