Ladies and Gentlemen, Delhi Police Are Not With You If You Are Poor


I returned to Delhi in winter.  I had been away for five years. The city was in turmoil in those early months of 2010, physically and morally. The Commonwealth Games were around the corner and Delhi was a city of broken culverts, dug-up roads, half-built bus stops and hurriedly whitewashed public spaces. Revelations of corruption followed. It was hard to count the zeros in the amount of money that had been pilfered by the politicians and contractors. I had left Delhi as a young man who had worked here for several years as a police beat reporter. I was returning as an anthropologist to research the city and its press.

My research grant gave me a degree of upward mobility. I moved into a South Delhi area, which had been a forbidden zone on my police reporter’s salary five years back. Around my new neighborhood, parks replaced shantytowns, auto-rickshaws traded places with radio taxis and children were chauffeured to tennis lessons. I got home deliveries of rocket salad and pasta. “Delhi’s cuisine has gone global,” I wrote in my diary….

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