Optics: Red Carpet Treatment

On today’s visit to Ahmedabad, all I could notice was how much development had taken place since my last visit there (which was on Wednesday). It caught me off-guard. There were lights put up at every single bus station I passed. I saw metro stations and their pillars being painted and decorated with the colour scheme the Amdavad Metro is going to rock at some point. There were new ‘walls’ and ‘gates’ up at different parts of the city, and several posters featuring the Donald and our own Prime Minister. All of this is essentially the equivalent of someone cleaning up their room in order to impress a visitor or give them the idea of someone living a super-organized life. It felt very pretentious to me.

The Municipal Corporation and the Government is spending a lot of money on this. I have a few concerns. I’m worried that the spending and the cleaning-up hasn’t been thought through: that all the money spent is not being spent in a sustainable manner. Why is this a source of concern? Because unsustainable expenditure by the Government, to me, always feels like money that is wasted. For example, they’re planting flowers in garden patches in the middle of the highway. I’m wondering whether they’ll spend for it’s upkeep after this State visit that’s taking place.

I’m all in favour of the red carpet treatment. Optics matter in this day and age (irrespective of whether or not you personally favour them; I don’t). We could, however, be spending less money on optics to be constructed overnight if we were sustainably spending on optics, or if we were actually living the ideal life we’re trying to portray this city lives out.


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