Wishful World Rediscovered!
It's always inspiring and enthralling to to see pictures of enthusiastic crowds from across the country gather at 'Jalsa' just to have a glance at their most respected and revered mega star, Amitabh Bachchan. Frankly speaking, sometimes the scene seems somewhat scary in the fearful environment of the times when media is full of most terrifying and gruesome stories of global terrorism. I'm sure Big B is well protected with adequate security provided for such occasions and pray is safe safe always, especially on such unforgettable Sundays for your fans and well wishers.
Talking of change in the times on account of terrorism, I'm reminded of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He made himself accessible to the people on a regular basis , when they came to meet him from across the country for redress of their grievances. The Sunday 'Janta Darbar' during Rajiv's regime sent across the message that the voiceless had a patron in their Prime Minister. Alas, this could not go on for long and he had to discontinue the 'Darbar' due to security pressures. The times continued to change for the worse from security point of view. I feel sad when I recollect the action of overzealous security of the Prime Minister of India, late Rajiv Gandhi, in the changed atmosphere.
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, and fans from their beloved film stars. God bless Big B for bringing back the world of my wish, which I have been wanting to rediscover for quite some time.