ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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BOMBAY- Cosmopolitan City


Television has come to Bombay The people are happy. Or at least those people who like to think of Bombay as cosmopolitan, modern, the most wes-ternised city in this distinctly back-ward, uncivilised, oriental subconti-nent. Now they can tell their foreign friends that Bombay even has televi-sion. It also has skyscrapers and an Inter-Continental and a Sheraton to compare with the best in American stereo-type luxury hotel accommoda-tion. The Hilton, it appears, has been postponed because the proposed site at Worli seaface is prone to unpleasant smells from the sewage of the thou-sands who can gape at the vulgar plate-glass and imitation-gold reception lounges of these hostelries but can never dream of going in, except per-haps as bell-boys or carpet-sweepers

But no matter. The Minister of Tourism flies in on official duty to grace the opening of the latest titilla-tion in 1940s Hollywood-style Indian restaurants and smooth-talks his way through droves of fawning reporters, hoteleers and the somewhat aloof foreign designers and interior decorators. After all he, like so many of the pace-setters in this country, is modem and dynamic. Never mind the naked bodies on the door-step; we must be broad-minded, international-minded. That is why an Indian Jumbo Jet must fly to New York every day of the week, every day of the year. Even if the frequency is quite un-economic, whatever is left of our prestige in the US must be main-tained. That is why the Ameri-can-designed Air-India building at Nariman Point must be a poor, but ex-pensive, copy of the Pan-Am head-quarters in New York and that is why none other than Buckminster Fuller must design brand-new space-age air terminals at Santa Cruz and probably also at Palam and at Meenambakkam, even though he has never designed any before. (Dum Dum already has a vast new international air terminal which has a deserted look. The Naxalite trouble-makers messed up the airline and tourist business in Calcutta). There are, of course, rationalisations for all this — foreign exchange and all that goes with it. Of course, a non-intuitive analysis would probably reveal that the capital cost going into all this tourism infra-structure would yield higher foreign ex-change results or achieve net foreign ex- change savings if the investment went into some other industry or would serve some more immediate social purpose if it was used, say, for providing drinkable water to the parched and amoebic inha-bitants of the city's slums, who .number at least eight lakhs. Others who are marginally better off also do not get water, forgetting those who do not even have a slum to. live in

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