Today’s Hindustan Times has an a page one anchor describing what a Dutch diplomat has to say about the capital of the nation:

Anything that can go wrong, does go wrong; everyone interferes with everyone else; the people are a darn nuisance; the climate is hell; the city a garbage dump… New Delhi is the most miserable place I have ever lived in.

Turn to the Edit Page, and the former Union Minister of Urban Development Jagmohan, an example of the difference between the well-meaning and the populist, puts forward the reasons behind this mess:

When, in 2001, I was functioning as the Union Urban Development Minister, I had launched an extensive drive against offenders of civic and planning laws. At that time, I had pleaded with my fellow members of Parliament to consider: “In what type of Delhi do we want to live, and what type of legacy do we wish to bequeath to posterity and to our children and grandchildren? Do we want our city to become a junkyard of unauthorised constructions or an orderly and disciplined capital of a resurgent Republic?”

The response of the power wielders to this plea was a sudden change in my portfolio.

Politics is a short run affair; all that matters is the next election. It didn’t matter to Jagmohan, he lost his seat. Why worry about the long run? John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” Right. But others will live and with the shrinking time frame of long-run implications we are almost seeing the results live. Delhi is fast transforming into the gutter, once a river, which divides the city into two. Delhi Metro rail isn’t the saving grace.

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