I am writing something sane after a long time, and I do not know where to start from. Probably, the premise of the thought leading to this article would be a nice place to start at. So, let me begin...
I was going through this article entitled- "City Report – Municipal Council of Delhi Vs Daryaganj’s Book Bazaar" by Mayank Austen Soofi on the blog 'The Delhi Walla'. What essentially is reported is that the famous 'Daryaganj book market' of Delhi is facing what can be simply called a 'struggle for existence'. Allegedly a source of great inconvenience to the automobiles passing through Daryaganj on Sunday, due to the crowd of bibliophiles, and a place registering a growth of crimes such as pick-pocketing and eve-teasing, the book market is facing a threat from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Police to be closed down. Or, probably, shifted to some place else (to Mata Sundri road, actually, but as long as it's out of Daryaganj, one doesn't give a damn where to). The article was accompanied by certain comments, some of which irked me, or probably a little more, to make me come out of my shell of laziness and respond through a comment. While penning it down, did I realise that it would be better for me to write an entry of my own. So, here I am, now, to do simply that, with the initial rustiness taken care of.
Firstly, why was I irked. The answer is simple-I love the place and can hear no denigration of it. Now, my reasons for doing so are two- emotional and practical. Emotional-because I love books, and the place has lots of them. I love the air of the place- kinda old-world, kinda for the masses, the people (they love books,too), the food (if and when your hunger isn't satisfied by the brilliant books) and even the book traders. Practical-because it's the best place to buy good books and textbooks (both Indian and foreign), at really cheap rates. Believe you me, for a student who's gotta buy a lot of books and has a limited amount of money at his/her disposal, Daryaganj is the place to be.
Now, coming to the reasons for which it will suppossedly be closed or moved.
Firstly, inconvenience to the traffic. The books are sold on the pavements and they do overflow with people, wih the result that the effective road area is reduced by a small percentage. It does cause jams, but it isn't the only reason. The traders selling clothes and other articles like glares, CDs, DVDs, stationaries (at prices similar to retail stores) are the ones which encroach upon the roads and not just the pavements and attract a large population themselves. If one were to eliminate them and hence the people coming for the stuff other than the books, the number would be reduced and a lot of the road made free for vehicular traffic.
Secondly, pickpocketing and eve-teasing. I do not understand how this could be a reason at all for closing down the market. Just because a place has a certain crowd on a specific given day (which is fixed and known to all, including the police), and there is an increase in the incidence of crimes which are anyway common in crowded places like pick-pocketing and eve-teasing, doesnt mean the place needs to be closed, but simply means that the place, like the rest of Delhi, needs stricter policing. Even the same can be said of the trafic regulation. Here, about pickpocketing and eve-teasing, I would like to put in a piece of information gleaned out of my own experience of the place. When out with a group of friends, there was an instance when a book trader came to me and asked us to be especially careful about a certain person in the crowd, as he had been seen making attempts at picking pockets. After this incident, though I've been more careful about my pocket, my faith in the place and its people has not diminished, but grown. And, as for the complaints on the traders charging pretty high, I would just say this- please do not base your perceptions on one single visit; the more you go there, the better you understand the place and how you should function there for it to fruifully function for you. And, isn't this common for most bazaars or ,for that matter, anything in India.
Thirdly, the point about 'copyright infringement'. Yes, it is an issue. I admit it. But, when I see it in perspective of the situation of Daryaganj and the people over there buying those books, it loses its strength. Now, why do I say that? It is because of the great service that this place metes out to the student community and the society at large. I would rather prefer that there happens a copyright infringement than students not having books to study, because of their steep prices or unavailability elsewhere. As for illegal encroachment, isn't that anyway gonna happen in the new place the market might be shifted to. And, very frankly, isn't this a part of our existence called India, especially when there's something good coming out of it for the society.These are books, not drugs or liquor, for God's sake. I accept that all that's been said by me on how the situation can be improved is easier said than done. But, isn't that why we elect our Government in the first place- to do those very things which are easier said than done, but, at the same time, highly essential for the improvement of our lives .
Shifting the bazaar elsewhere would be better than altogether closing it and probably due to necessity, people would even go there were it to be shifted. However, even after shifting the market does there not remain a fear that the shouts of illegal encroachment will be raised once again, shutting the chapter of the 'erstwhile-Daryaganj book market' or rather the 'then-Delhi Book Market', once and for all and in its inability to go to posh and upmarket bookstores, drowning the stories of the book-loving 'masses'.
If the government believes itself capable of enforcing everything perfectly in some new region, then can't it regulate and improvise upon what already exists. Then, wouldn't all be well...