There is lots of kvetching and tch-tch-tching in Mysore, and among Mysoreans across the world, over Mysore losing its No.1 status on the “Swachh City” list, after topping it two years in a row.
But as a true-blue Mysorean, I, for one, am somewhat relieved, in fact secretly glad, that our pride has been punctured by inspectors from decidedly less-swachh cities.
(How that works, know god.)
Part of my schadenfreude—the enjoyment derived from Mysore’s seeming misfortune—stems from knowing how polls, surveys and rankings are done in “New India”.
Part of it is a karmic belief that it is only when we lose that we learn the value of what we have lost; that there are other cities in the race too; that winning is not our birthright.
But there are other reasons why I am happy to see Mysore slide down the pole to No.5:
# The No.1 status for Mysore was always misleading. We are a small city, a scale model of R.K. Narayan‘s Malgudi, which is easier to manage. We cannot be compared with big cities and large metropolises, and thank heavens for that.
# Mysore has had the privilege of proper town planning for over 100 years. Other towns and cities are always at a disadvantage against such vision and foresight which our Maharajas foolishly didn’t tweet about.
# While parts of Mysore are undeniably clean and superb, the truth, mitron, is they have always been so. Neither Narendra Modi nor his sad attempt to separate Mahatma Gandhi from his spectacles, have anything whatsoever to do with it.
# While the good parts of Mysore have become better, the poor, the homeless and the marginalised—people living on the other side of the railway track, the people whom the great Mahatma really bothered about—have had no such luck.
# We have been separating dry waste from wet waste, and garbage has been collected at doorsteps, and modern incinerators have been used in Mysore, for the longest time before it became something to crow about on websites and hoardings.
# Whatever fetched Mysore the No.1 title for two years in a row was mostly bogus, vitrified gentrification of our roads, footpaths and parks, not deep, long-lasting, systemic changes to the way we live, consume and expend.
# The fact that Kukkarahalli Lake which is nestled in the University campus is dying to survive shows how bogus and superficial the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign is for our water bodies, birds, fish, flora and fauna.
# Mysore’s most immoveable asset, Chamundi Hill, is seeing gruesome commercialisation by netas, godmen and other frauds shows that beauty of the silly ‘Swachh’ kind is skin deep—and cosmetic like the “gold facial” someone gets every week.
# Mysore apparently lost out this year because not too many signed on to the Swachch App. I say, smart work, Mysoreans, for not contributing to the world’s most brazen database collector (and user): the government of India.
# And finally, I am glad the spotlight is not on Mysore because whenever I see North Indians—people north of Mysore—ask about property rates in our always-beautiful, always-clean city, all I see is red, and danger.
ps: With state elections due in a year, why was I so sure we wouldn’t make the cut this year?