Ahmedabad has not had too much good written about it since long. But that’s not the most distressing part of sorry picture. What should hurt all of us more is that we don’t speak too much good about ourselves either. There is virtually no collective compassion for the city. Not the kind that has been or can be expressed aloud anyway.
Unfortunately, where’s the encouragement from either the political authorities or any of the social groups, including the charity-oriented wings of big corporate houses?
Now sample this: Almost anyone who is exposed to images from the US has probably seen t-shirts that read ‘I Love NY’, with the lovable symbol of heart replacing the word ‘love’. Do you know who is responsible for the almost cult logo? The authority behind the enviable statement of New Yorkers is a state body that not only has a boringly long name but also has got nothing too much to do with arts – New York State Department of Economic Development.
Shouldn’t we, citizens of the principal city of one of India’s most commerce-oriented state get the message loud and clear from that? It is in Ahmedabad’s economic interests, apart from a host of other enriching ones, to initiate a compassion drive that gives us all a sense of ownership with regards the city. And which, consequently, prods us to become more caring and nurturing. Why aren’t the ‘city fathers’ (sic) waking up this very simple argument?
Fortunately, not everyone is waiting for that miracle from our moribund bureaucracy. Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), that fantastically proactive organisation, had embarked on a mission similar to that of the NYSDED. Under the guidance of a former chief of Mudra Communications, the organisation had come up with a logo for the city of Ahmedabad, with ‘From Mills To Malls’ being the catch phrase of the idea. This author is not aware of the absolute work and team behind the initiative; but the unfortunate fact of the matter is that neither the logo nor the slogan has managed to permeate the core of the city thus far. A part of the reason can be that while the logo is tad difficult for a common man to recreate, the catch phrase has not caught on as yet either. But it has been a exercise worth wholesome praise. Hopefully, it would give birth to many such initiative from other concerned groups.
And it is necessary. Just as you need to feel one with fellow shoulders in a trench, while fighting the enemy, it helps a great deal to have smiling and singing pals while painting a new house. It helps the spirits, makes work enjoyable and takes much less time to finish. And even if it takes long, you don’t mind, for you’re having a nice time anyway!
And that spirit is precisely what every great city is about, and what they should be. That can happen only when there is a single thread tying every heart of the society. A thread that you can see and help to pull everyone together. A thread that is simple at heart and even simpler to express. We’ve got to find a thread. Now.