The world I wish to rediscover
This is the present scenario for not only the President of the United States but all the world leaders. I feel sad and I recollect the action of overzealous security of the Prime Minister of India, late Rajiv Gandhi, not very long ago. The place was right on the picturesque road along the Aravali Hills leading to Alwar and further up the famous Tiger Sanctuary at Sariska. The wayside wooden shops at Nuh and other small towns displayed colorful items handcrafted by village craftsmen, and were a great attraction for tourists. Suddenly something happened that changed the entire scene. The Prime Minister called a conclave of Cabinet Ministers and their aides in the scenic surroundings of Sariska Tiger Sanctuary, on the lines of the US Presidents making news at Camp David or the presidential ranch. The plan promptly put the Prime Minister's security into action and all those wayside shops were literally lifted hundreds of yards to the interiors, not visible from the road, as long as the VVIPs were enjoying serious deliberations at the Tiger Den. The Ministrial meetings may have lasted for a few days, but the ordeal suffered by the people living along the way lasted much longer. In fact, the place never came back to its original lively form, the people having lost confidence, not knowing when another Prime Minister or President may decide to spend a day at Sariska.
Down my memory lane comes another time, of another Prime Minister and a President, and a set of shops which were also situated on the VIP route but had a different story to tell. The year was 1959. Pundit Nehru was the Prime Minister. He had just received President Eisenhower, on a state visit, the first US President to visit India. As their motorcade arrived near the downtown Connaught Place in the heart of New Delhi, it stopped in front of the flourishing fruit and vegetable market. Both, Pundit Nehru and President Eisenhower came out of their cars for the traditional welcome with flowers and garlands by the vegetable and fruit vendors, the common people. They got themselves photographed with them and some lucky ones even shaked hands with the world's two great leaders. This was the scene whenever a foreign dignitary, a President or a Prime Minister passed that point on their arrival. And this is the world I wish to rediscover, sans the threat of security that separates the peoples' leaders from their own people.