My Experiences in UP -Lucknow -“Other India”

I happened to visit Uttar Pradesh’s capital city -Lucknow on a business visit around 3 months back and ever since have travelled to Lucknow almost every  fortnight . During the last visit i was able to vist Hamirpur District and its adjoining villages for a field study and this experience introduced to me to the “Other India” or rather served as a sample of BIMARU states (Bihar Madya Pradesh Rajastan & UP) and found that the demographics of this place is a complete contrast  to what we see down south   or even in  cities like Gurgoan , Delhi etc.Also  the experiences are different and let me try to summarize them for you …

City View of “Other India”

At the first impression Lucknow  seems like a very nice city specially if you come from the Airport and stay at the Taj hotel . The roads are wide with wonderfull Mayavati parks to give you company. It seems like Mayavati has borrowed the idea of a city from an European city  and the roads are wide with victorian style lamposts  and the famed “Hathi” parks straight out of a european city ..

 

So on the very first impression on a cold (5degrees) night i was impressed with the city  and when i told this to my friend who is based in Lucknow , he said please reserve your comments  as u have not yet seen the city.

In the evening i was taken to the famed Aminabad market (which is like Chikpet area in Bangalore) and then i realised what a contrast it was . It is the most crowded market place which i have seen in India with no place to stand ! .Besides the night market in Taiwan this is the most crowded market place which i have seen in my life  with people pushing each other ..  This is where i saw the biggest “factor” of BIMARU states- Growing population. This biggest factor combined with low education levels seems to have become the bane of BIMARU states and this was clearly visible in cost of every item there  . Tthe citiy has autos and cycle rickshaws driven by human power , but still people prefer to use the cycle rickshaws because Autos cannot compete with the prices which the cycle rickshawala is offering . A 2 km ride in Cycle rickshaw driven by a man is Rs 10 and minde you this is not the final price you may haggle a bit here too. Despite offering this low prices it is not like these rickshawalas make lot of money because there are too many of them , hence a driver has to wait for a long time to get  a sawari .  So in the end a cycle rickshaw wala would make Rs 100/ day after having worked for the whole day in bloody cold weather and some of this money would be needed for upkeep of the rickshaw so in effect he may not even end up with $ 2 (Rs 90) / working day. Compare this with a cost of labour in Bangalore , even a low unskilled labourer for constructing a house costs Rs 250 with the skilled ones going upto Rs 500/ day . After seeing this one can easily related why labourers from Bihari , UP and Rajasthan are flooding the BANGALORE market … Its another version of being “BANGALORED” , where we picked up jobs from US employees because they were too expensive , now its the labourers of BIMARU states taking over from local ones in Bangalore and other cities.

 

The other thing that you notice is the cost of handloom or rathe local handicrafts . Lucknow is famous for its Chikan work and i happened to visit a shop in the aminabad market and there too i found lot of handmade embroidary stuff being sold for dirt cheap prices .  A fully Kurta , Pyjama set with Chikan embriodary  costs Rs 350 ! And it seems that do this Chikan work employees take between 2-3 days  and despite this the final price at a shop is Rs 350 !!!! . This again shows how cheap the labour is .Similarly the food is very cheap compared to Bangalore or any other city which i have been too

 

The second bane of these BIMARU states is partisan politics which dont care about development of people , but only care about there own inflated egos . During my visit a hige 850 ACRE park “KanshiRam park”  was being built at a massive cost of 900 Crore rupees .. during my 3 months of visit i saw the park being bullt and demolished several times . I was told that Mayavati did not like railing which were initially of steel and then were demolished to make way for stone railing and this is happening in a state which has the poorest population !

The most puzzlng aspect of this park was the attempt for first make a park and then plant trees 🙂  and people doing this had no idea as they attempted to plant palm trees in Lucknow during the cold winter . This lead to all Palm trees dying ! and this massive park does not have even one plant to this day !.Apart from this almost all city roads are plastered with hoardings at every nook and corner . During major events like Ambedkar Jayanthi it seems all advertising hoardings of private companies are taken over by the political parties without notice .

So when government is not bothered about industry why would anyone invest in these states . So this means that more people from here will migrate to greener pastures like Gurgoan or head downsouth where they are welcomed with open arms …

 

Village View of “Other India” 

Having visited several villages in Karnataka and stayed there (my wife’s is from a village in Davanagere district)  i thought that i had seen the village life  but my visit to Hamirpur District and Banda District of UP showed that i was wrong as there exists a different village in BIMARU states .

The roads which connect Lucknow to Hamirpur are a very pale comparision to the kind of Highways which we seen down south . In fact this road is supposed to an NH and despite that there are several Kms of stretch where roads dont exist at all … it is a kuccha road  which has been tarred 5 years back . Road from Hamirpur to villages were better , but thats because these roads were built under ” Pradan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana” .

 

On visiting the villages and the small town of Banda  i found that many villages still don’t have electricity at all  but are covered by mobile networks like Vodafone , Airtel etc. So retailers in these villages  are providing mobile recharge facility at a cost of Rs 10 / charge and then chargers are operated by inverters powered by Generators . Look at the irony as villages spend Rs 150 / month to charge their phones , but dont spend more than Rs 45  on phone calls ..

 

During the time i visited the village it was peak harvesting season and the contrast with a village down south was clearly visible as most of the harvesting is still being done by hand by labourers .  Down south  or even in Punjab most harvesting is now done using machines which are rented for a few hours.

 

The other thing to notice was that there were no schools  and health centers in many of the villages which we visited. The lack of education and awareness is also evident when you visit a retailer selling phone connections and recharges. He calls the shots and decides which plan is best for his customer . The villager trusts the retailer and he is the one who decides whatz best of the villages. So here the operators have mega incentive plans for retailers . This must be quite similar across the country , but here as the lack of awareness is more retailers expliot the villages more .

 

This is my summary of my experiences in the “Other India”. and for those of u who read till here my thanks for having taken time to read this 🙂


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