In this world of instant noodles, WhatsApp break-ups, robots, AI and IoT one would presume that symbolism is of little significance or is perhaps dead. But make no mistake – symbolism is alive and kicking for nothing else explains the brouhaha over a blue, 2005-model, WagonR being stolen in Delhi recently. It belonged to one Arvind Kejriwal when he used to be a commoner – an aam adami. The car symbolized that ordinary folks could rise and become Chief Minister of Delhi riding on the spirit of collective angst of ordinary citizens against corruption at high places (Whatever happened to that movement? Relax, even Google hasn’t figured out that one as yet). The car thieves, perhaps in their own wisdom, thought that ordinary folks transform in to VIPs once they get elected and move on to bigger toys. So they took their chances and ran away with this much-touted WagonR – initiating a cascade of symbolic references and rants. The Aam Adami Party used the incident to take yet another dig at the Lieutenant-Governor (Yes, irrespective of who the LG is – the ruling Aam-Adami Party finds him to be a symbol of threat to the federal structure). This banal car-lifting incident soon became symbolic of the deteriorating law and order situation in the city. Palpable elements such as it being a ‘broad-daylight theft’ and that it happened ‘right in front of the Delhi Secretariat’ added more spice to the obloquy. Suddenly Dilliwalahs got more than their normal GST -Demonetization diatribe to indulge in. Unfortunately the cops discovered the car and got it back – ending the spectacle a bit too soon. In the process they sent Dilliwalahs back to the ordinary, daily chore of trying to decipher how the current economic slowdown is linked to Nehru and why is Jaitley reading Das Kapital.
History is laced in symbolism and perhaps that irks modern rulers no end. Not content with change of street-names – the current dispensation wants to change history or at least alter the way it is taught and perceived. Suddenly the 1857 mutiny, with Delhi as its fulcrum, is being relegated to an act not as significant. Considered so far as the first war of independence against the British, it is being displaced by Paika Bidroha of 1817 in Odisha which, from now on, will be considered as the first war of independence. The Government at the Centre will splurge Rs 200 crores for its commemoration across India. Thankfully there is no turmoil, at least not as yet (we have a history of re-writing history). Ironically, this blog was scheduled to highlight the Mutiny Memorial under the StateOfDelhi Suggests (this blogger will still do it, nevertheless –Dilliwalahs are folks of firm resolve!).
StateOfDelhi Suggests that you get on to the Kamla Nehru Ridge towards the Hindu Rao Hospital. Park your vehicle in front of the Hospital and walk down 160 steps towards Rani Jhansi Road and you will encounter this unique memorial right in the middle of the ridge. It is called the Mutiny Memorial and was built in 1863 in memory of the officers and soldiers, British and Natives, who were killed in 1857. Interestingly, in 1972 a plaque was put up here in memory of those who rose against the British thus making it a rare memorial that symbolizes the sacrifices on both sides. Now that’s Delhi for you!