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Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mumbai's polio crisis: Nothing but a load of shit

Will the nonsense stop on the polio debate?

Advocates of Fortress Mumbai are crawling out of the woodwork demanding that Bombay shut its doors to the unwashed hordes descending from the badlands of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

You see we were one step away from a parchment from the World Health Organization certifying Maharashtra as a polio-free street. Till a bunch of slum dwellers from god-forsaken Govandi visited their village in UP and returned home with the polio virus. And pulled down Bombay several notches below Shanghai.

The call to throw up the barricades against the swarming multitudes trying to eke out a living in Bombay is as old as the hills. But the voices are now resounding from what was considered saner quarters. After reports warned of a new drug-resistant P1 version of the polio virus affecting even those children already vaccinated, cries for a cordon sanitaire are getting shriller.

See, see, even the First World is blaming UP's Azamgarh of incubating the P1 polio virus before spreading it to Congo and Niger. Didn't we warn you when Azamgarh sent Abu Salem to raid Bollywood. Now its latest export has even conquered the Heart of Darkness! Up the barricades. Batten the hatches. Load the cannons. Out with the vermin.......

So, when will people stop talking shit? Or rather start talking shit!

The polio virus is spread via fecal matter. That is when a healthy child consumes food and water contaminated by the shit of someone suffering from polio.

Now in the slums of Govandi as in other slums across Bombay, there are not enough toilets. Colour televisions in every house, but not toilets. Streets in most parts of the city are pockmarked with lumps of turd in varying sizes and colours. Vendors of vegetables and cooked food blithely sell their wares to even the well-heeled sections of society. How many people share a toilet in the slums of Mumbai? 100, 200, 2000? Guess correctly and somebody will send you to represent India at a conference in Geneva. By business class. Of a full-service airline.

The P1 polio virus may already have entered the bloodstreams of scores of children supposedly immunized against it. I won't be surprised if there are fresh incidents of polio outbreaks across Mumbai. More kids dragging their useless limbs in bulky callipers. Fewer children clamoring for a place in the housing society's cricket team. Middle class parents stepping out of Maruti cars demanding college admission for their children under the quota for disabled....

What crap? Indeed!

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