I am pretty sure that all of us who
reside in India are as annoyed as I am with the
thousand invasions that we have to confront in our
cities. These are pervasive, no-holds barred attacks
on our personal spaces; there is neither let up nor
any instrument of defence; and nothing can make any
of these invaders see civility or reason. When you
have read this, there is a 90 per cent chance that
you will agree on three things. First, that what I
have described below are invasions. Second, we don’t
want any of it. And third, there is absolutely
nothing that we can do. So, we have just about had
Invasion Number 1. I get between 20 to 30 messages
per day on my mobile phone about:
• The world’s most attractive property deals in
Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Manesar, Alwar, Chandigarh,
Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune... the
list is endless.
• The world’s most attractive one-, two-, three- or
four-bedroom apartments and more.
• The world’s most efficient inverters, power
back-up sources, and never-to-be-repeated inventions
that reduce your power bills.
• The world’s cheapest and fastest loans for
anything you wish, often against nothing except the
lender’s pleasure of seeing your cute face.
• The world’s greatest travel and holiday deals —
USA, UK, Switzerland, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore,
Amarnath, Char Dham, Vaishno Devi, Tirupati, all the
same, Sir, with tip top service for families and
• The world’s best life insurance, health insurance,
car insurance deals, followed up by unsolicited
mobile calls from all, especially when one such
insurance is about to fall due.
• The world’s best gyms, where at extraordinarily
low prices you can increase biceps, widen shoulders,
shrink waist and look like Master H. Roshan.
• The world’s best trade for your car; best shop for
mobile phones; best door-to-door computer repair
service; best credit cards.
• The world’s best DJ nights — the Lord knows why
because I have never gone to a DJ night.
• The world’s best facility for bulk SMS-ing, so
that you can do all of the above at the cheapest
Why do these happen to all of us? Because our mobile
numbers have been sold to each such business. How
have they been sold? It started with someone in
Airtel or Vodaphone or Tata Teleservices either
selling it to somebody else (which is always
denied!), or by giving the list to one or more of
the company’s direct sales agents (DSAs), who then
started a chain-selling process. Why does it happen
even though it is so awfully inefficient? Because
mass-SMSing costs so little. Even one hit in 500
suffices to recoup costs. Who cares about targeted
marketing at such low unit costs! Is there a
solution? None, unless there can be a ban on such
sales on grounds of invasion of privacy, with the
ban being followed up by severe penalties. As you
know, that is just wishful thinking.
At even 10 messages per day over 300 days, these are
3,000 invasions per year. Incidentally, as I writing
the last few paragraphs, five such messages came on
my mobile phone. In less than 30-odd minutes.
Invasion Number 2. The death of pavements.
Twenty-five years ago, New Delhi had pavements.
Today, there are virtually none. These have been
encroached by illegally widened apartment blocks,
occupied by cars, broken and never to be repaired by
building contractors, telephone companies, the water
board or the power supplier, taken up by vendors or,
more recently, destroyed by all manner of makeshift
construction activities allegedly on account of CWG
2010. Yes, you guessed it: Delhi’s latest public
finance splurge called Commonwealth Games 2010. I am
ashamed to see old men and women and young children
being forced to walk on the roads and dodging
atrociously rash drivers because they have been
deprived of the basic urban right of walking on
properly paved footpaths. It is true in every major
metropolitan city. And nobody cares. Like the
broad-billed platypus, pavements have become
Invasion Number 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Why must adult
Indian males loudly discuss business details on
mobile phones in the buses that transport them from
the air terminals to the planes? Why must they carry
on talking even as the plane taxis? Why must they
have one excuse or the other to jump any queue that
they see? Why must they have to ogle at any woman
who passes them between the ages of 16 and 56? Why
must they think that they are people of great
consequences, without ever realising that they make
appalling asses of themselves? Is it because their
mummies made them believe that they were God’s own
creatures? Or is it because they are like that only?
I could have written so much more...
Published: Business World, June 2010