Black magic boomerangs. White magic healsâ€™
Ketan Tanna on how we are a nation that has got used to standing in eternal queues
Apart from the dark blue passport, the endorsement of Indian citizenship comes from the inescapable anthem â€” You Are In Queue. Indians are so many and human activities so few that most ventures in this country consign you to the dreaded waiting line. This is the story of some poignant Indian waits.
In urban India, the birth of a child drives parents to the best schools to register their ward for admissions that are four to five years away. Meera Isaacs, Principal of Mumbaiâ€™s The Cathedral & John Connon School, says, â€œYes, we are taking applications from the parents of a year-old child so that he or she can join the kindergarten when the child is five years old. We stop taking applications when the number of registrations reaches 500. Unlike other schools, we do not want parents to line up overnight outside schools or stand in a long queue.â€
In Ahmedabad, Manish Mehta has been waiting for two years to get his son admitted into the Delhi Public School (DPS). The boy is now in the eighth standard in a local school and he has been looking forward to a better school since he passed the sixth. He has been taking the entrance tests and interviews for DPS but has been unlucky. The school turns away at least five students a day at the peak of the admissions season.
Even if one is willing to pay huge amounts for the membership of an elite club, the waiting period runs into several years. That is if there is a benevolent waiting period in the first place. Bombay Gymkhana, for instance, has stopped accepting applications for the life, permanent and ordinary memberships. Corporate memberships are open though. A manager at the Gymkhana, who did not want to be identified, said that life membership was last opened in 1998 and closed within a couple of months. According to him, ordinary memberships had opened in 1979-80 and every time memberships open, there are thousands who want to get in.
The Delhi Gymkhana has a waiting list that runs into several years while getting a membership in the India Habitat Centre too can take more than a decade. The Karnavati Club in Ahmedabad started with a membership fee of Rs 5,000 for ordinary members which then went up to a lakh about five years ago. Now the figure is Rs 7 lakh but there are so many on the waiting list that the club has stopped taking in new members.
Justice, of course
As of February 2006, 33,635 cases were pending in the Supreme Court, 3.34 lakh cases in high courts, and 2.5 crore cases in subordinate courts. The Bombay bomb blasts trial that went on for 14 years is among the faster cases. It is not uncommon for justice in this land to take decades.
Thousands of farmers were forced to give up their land in Akola, Vidarbha, so that the government could establish the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth in 1969-70. In return, the government had promised a government job to a member of every family whose land had been acquired. Some 38 years later, the farmers are still fighting for what was promised to them.
People who have applied for the grant of trademarks over a decade ago are still in wait. A lawyer who did not want to named said that one of the trademarks he applied for took 18 years to come, and another took 11. In 2004, he says, there were around 2,50,000 pending trademark applications. On an average it takes anywhere between 18 to 36 months for a trademark to be granted. The average for some categories of trademark is close to four years.
Even if one were to get fed up of the materialistic world and hope to seek salvation, there is a waiting period. At the Tirupathi temple, between mid-April and mid-May this year, the temple saw 22 lakh pilgrims, a 30% increase over the same period last year. On some days, over 80,000 have thronged the temple. As a consequence, the waiting period for an economical Rs 50 darshan of Lord Venkateswara stretches to close to three days.
If you decide today to do the Rs 50,000 Udayastamana pooja at the Guruvayurappan temple in Kerala, you will be able to do it only after 2050. â€œWe are not accepting any new applications. The new managing committee will take a decision about the next round of applications,â€ says a temple official. A few years ago, when the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, wanted to give a baby elephant as an offering to the temple following an election victory, she was told that she would have to wait for 38 years.
If you apply today, the earliest you can hold an exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery is in 2012. The galleryâ€™s secretary, Mrs K G Menon says that it can play host to only four artists in a week. â€œEvery year, we get 1000 applications and I can accommodate only 250.â€ The gallery has acquired two new places on the first floor and the waiting list is expected to come down. The mushrooming of private galleries has helped ease the pressure on Jehangir but even private galleries these days are beginning to have a long waiting period. TNN
(With inputs from Vasundhara Vyas in Ahmedabad and
Abhinav Bindra from New