When Mumbai Civic Body Needs A Rap To Remind Its Duty...  

RJ Malishka Mendonsa (Facebook picture) - Sakshi Post

Mahesh Vijapurkar

Year upon year, every monsoon, newspapers and news television screen are full of Mumbai’s by now infamous potholes on the roads. The civic body promises to get the road in prim condition before the rains, and seldom manages to, and come the first shower, the roads resemble the craters on the moon.

The High Court had rapped the civic body knuckles in the past and in some instance, even set deadlines to ensure the potholes were filled. Even that has not awoken the city government to ensure that its road quality is such that it could withstand at least one, not few, monsoons. Each year, the craters are back.

Apparently, the fraud, patent by now because Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai’s internal probes, and one by a Swiss company brought in as a consultant, have nailed the cause: poor quality material, poor execution, and the citizens don’t wonder if there has been corruption. They assert that cheating is by now natural.

And yet, last week, a rap by Malishka Mendonsa, a radio jockey for about a dozen years, got under the skin of the politicians of the party which has been in control of the city government. Within hours of it going viral, the Marathi rap that mocks got the Shiv Sena’s youth wing which asked the civic commissioner to file a Rs500 crore defamation suit against the RJ.

He hasn’t reacted yet, but the very next day civic body inspectors went and found that there were breeding spots for Aedes mosquitoes inside her home. That genus spreads dengue. A notice was slapped, which the civil society believe is something akin to SLAPP – strategic lawsuit against public participation. That which holds back the public.

It could be a coincidence, as the civic body makes it out, but the timing of it makes it really suspicious. Why only her how? How did they zero-in on the possibility of such breeding spots in the interiors of her dwelling in the upscale Bandra, once known as the Queen of the Suburbs? Were the complaints?

One should laud the civic body for the diligence – if diligence it was – but the tone of the Shiv Sena since then has been that the RJ had defamed the civic body, insulted its workers who work 24x7 to keep the city going. That level of work may even be true, but ask any Mumbai citizen and he would not rate the effort as efficient.

Malaika Mendonsa’s rap was first broadcast on an FM radio station and the video later found its way to Youtube. It lasts less than a minute-and- a-half but what an impact it has had! She starts with ‘Don’t you trust BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation)?’ and then unveils the lament of potholed roads, consequent traffic snarls, and the general disenchantment with the civic body.

No doubt the rival political parties pounced on it as the Sena’s efforts to curb free speech, and the Sena itself had one of its leaders appearing on the TV to use the same tune and saying, “If you don’t keep the mouth shut, there could be gadbad”. Not to be cowed down, Malishka has said that she has some six more raps in her head.

It should be a matter of interest to the mainline news media – both print and television – as to why the rapper got under the skin of the political establishment when their own well-researched, documented reports on Mumbai’s civic management made no impact. Is it that the social media, though prone to manipulation, carried higher credibility with the citizens?

Already two more videos have emerged, one of them asking, in the same tune, “Don’t you trust the RJ?” and digging deeper into the malaise that plagues the civic body, not just here but of towns and cities across the country. A citizen just put out a video of brown water in craters which “look like tea” so “come and some”, to saying that the water in them “kill mosquitoes”.

Back to Top