Friday, October 29, 2010

Beneath Little India

by Dinesweri Puspanadan,

The Indian community has made important contributions to the development of Malaysia during the past hundred years. They have worked with sincerity and dedication. They have excelled at medicine, law, engineering and accountancy. They have participated at each stage in the building of Malaysia -- Dr Manmohan Sing, Prime Minister of India

Its a sense of achievement, pride, moment of silent high maniac, short period of mild ecstasy when the Prime Minister of India Dr Man Mohan Sing shared a very close to heart conversation with the Indian community in Malaysia during the Inauguration of LITTLE INDIA at Brickfields recently. For the tired ears which have been injected with heart stabbing and pride degrading racial slurs, India PM's words tend to be a source of an interim refuge.

What could be more fascinating for the residents there, who are mostly Indians when their congested and less popular neighbourhood turned out to be the center of attention which  bridged and strengthen the relationship between India and Malaysia.

Any Tom and Hardy, despite their mental slavery could verify the fact that Brickfields, has been standing proudly on the platform of Indian heritage; traditional food, costumes, savories, decorations, spices, and accessories which also stores memories of many family gatherings with some sentimental valued landscapes around  since our grandparents' thumb-sucking era.

Brim stacked shops beautified with authentic India decorations like Sakthi Rasam, Parampara incense and Gold Winner Sunflower oil plus grand welcoming archway seem convincing enough to crown the Brickfields street as 'Little India' which many claimed it  belittled the India.

Little India project, since the day one proposed, received mixed reactions from various groups. Unsurprisingly, 'barking agents' barked with baseless allegations, 'community welfare driven' people threaten to protest, and the biggest group;the clueless jokers, just clang on their 'favorite figures'  faithfully for a free publicity.

Looking it at a bigger context(as how some 'intellectual' people prefer), Little India might help to beef up the economy of this nation. A series of MoU and Agreement;

Agreement towards implementing Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between Indiaand Malaysia on 1st July 2011
MOU on Cooperation in the Field of Traditional Systems of Medicine
MOU for cooperation in the filed of Tourism
MOU for Cooperation in the filed of IT & Services
Agreement between CSIR of India and UNIK of Malaysia on Research and Development Collaboration
Cultural Exchange Programme for 2010-13, 

signed between both Prime Ministers believed to improve access to each other's market. The mutual benefit that is expected to be achieved by both regimes is increase in the FDI. The visions look promising for who ever read the details of each MoU yet the yield of the project is questioned when we look at the reality of our current bastardized economy. With the hesitant of PM and his team to implement NEM, meritocracy, miserable leakage in the Budget 2011, wasting capitalism, the possibility for the people to benefit from a similar event is doubted.

Why dream to drive a Ferrari when desire to own an old kapchai seems to be difficult  to achieve? Narrowing down into the Indian community, we could hear many grouses from the grass root people. Some hawkers especially were not happy with the project earlier as they complained that the promised relocations for their shops were not prepared which actually affected their business badly.

A walk at Brickfields on one fine day wold explain to you the existing marginalization in the community. Between luxuries condominium and high class restaurants, 'poor and middle class families are trapped'. If you are frequent visitor, I bet you have bumped with kids selling pens or souvenirs. When asked about their identity, they uttered the infamous memorized sentence ' My family is poor and I am selling these things after school to support my family' but deep in our heart, we know that these kids controlled by syndicates who are taking advantage on them.

Despite the fact that the community sufferings contributed by their own attitude, with the implementation of 'Gigantic Projects'marginalization worsens which enlarges the economy and social gap between the people. As a result, urban poverty would be rampant!

You do not need a degree in Economics or Science Political to make sense of current situation and post a simple question; 'How does Little India benefit these 'Little Indians' as a whole?' We might need Little India for various reasons but with fundamental rights and necessities ignored and abandoned, dream to build a business empire is equivalent to building a sand castle in the air

Talking about exporting expertise or competing globally to folks at the street there is ridiculous when their basic rights are axed and necessity is jeopardized. Your talk about walking on the street or eating curry does not make sense to the folks who are struggling even to channel a decent income to the family for a month

In this context, what else Little India could be if not another plain rhetoric to boost the Public relation or another agenda to fish for Indians' votes for upcoming General Election. Perhaps the Little India is a 'help' to the people and the 'return help' maybe expected from the community very soon.

The fact that its too early to judge whether Little India is a successful project or a failed mission is undeniable. The yield could be only observed in the long run. However, we need to remind ourselves that unresolved issues at the grass root level could generate disastrous impacts which would contribute to the down fall of the society.

Is Little India promised wealth or planned disaster? Figures in the future shall speak for themselves...