Two different worlds on either side of the light house

On 7th November by chance I landed up (10th floor of the building) at the light house in Chennai. I started with the intention of taking my wife and daughter to visit the grand banyan tree inside the Theosophical society garden at Adyar, Chennai. We reached there at 4.30 PM only to be told that entry is closed at 4 PM. I wanted to visit a place that all three of us have not visited so far and decided to visit the light house. Chennai’s light house was reopened to public after 22 years on November 14, 2013. There is a light house museum at the ground floor, where I learned that this one is the fourth light house in Chennai and Chennai has had a light house since 1976. On display were a few photographs of Chennai Beach and Harbor from the by-gone eras. Also on display were vintage lighting equipment.

We reached the 10th floor viewing bay through a lift (A pleasant surprise for me as I was thinking we will have to climb by staircase). It was quite windy at the viewing bay. People were very busy taking snaps and selfies rather viewing below. The view from the top was nice. Somehow everything below looked beautiful from the viewing bay (even areas that looked otherwise from the ground).

While we enjoyed the trip to the light house, as I recollect what I saw from the viewing bay, the light house almost served as a dividing line for two social strata. To the left of the light house were splendid government buildings, government colleges, the beach front that serves as a recreational area for the city and Chennai’s harbor. When one looks at this side, one gets the picture of vibrant, progressive and affluent city. The traffic through the beach road was moving both swiftly and in an orderly fashion. As you look towards the right side of the light house you get a completely different picture. On this side you see multi-storey buildings housing some of the poorest in Chennai and the buildings were badly in need of repair. There were boats of fishermen on the beachside. The traffic on the road adjoining the buildings on this side was moving rather chaotically.

As I think about this contrasting picture both residing within a radius of a few kilometers, I am reminded of the comment made by one my professors in our MBA class. He said “We can’t afford to have islets of prosperity in an ocean of poverty. Soon the ocean of poverty will start engulfing these islets of prosperity through social unrest.” I am sure my professor was not talking about socialism. He was referring social progress. True social progress for the masses is only possible through good education followed by employment. Unfortunately in the last few years, the short term mentality of the voting public and vote-bank politics by politicians has ensured that government money is spent in doling out freebies rather than being invested in education and employment generation.

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