Tommorow, the day will finally dawn. The fate of the nation's pride would be decided. In far-off Portugal, UNESCO (with our very own Bipasha Basu in tow) will at last lift the curtains and unveil the new 7 wonders of the world !!! And will put an end to the seemingly endless propaganda by all and sundry in India, exhorting us to display our collective lung power (or is it 'sms power of our near-200 million mobile users' ??) and catapult Shah Jehan's monument of love to its 'rightful' place amongst the seven marvels of the modern world.
If we win, it is bound to raise a celebration like few witnessed before. I am sure you will be inundated with countless mails, SMS's, and scraps (the new way of conversing) congratulating all Indians. Media channels will work themselves into a frenzy proclaiming that our country has finally arrived. The tourism ministry and the industry will relish the prospect of increased tourist inflows and the benefits it would bring the country at large (are there any tourism-based stocks ??? go and add them to your kitty !!) . But, dare I even say that, just consider, what if ???? Insult !!! Sacrilege !!! Apocalypse !!!.. The nation will go into mourning. Our collective Indianness would have taken a huge beating. And post the mourning, like the old story of the fox, we might just shrug and say 'it really doesn't matter' !!
But frankly, before you cast in your vote either online or through sms, please ask yourself, Does it really matter even now ??? Does an online poll, even with the backing of UNESCO, with an audience of essentially the small fraction of the world's population with access to the Net or mobiles, really have the credibility to decide the world's 7 wonders ? And what about a small country, with hardly one-tenth of the mobile population as ,say,India's, with a monument to rival any in the world ?? Does it really have a chance ? Even after that, will the crowning of the Taj as the seven wonders of the world really change things on the ground ??? Sure, you might see a few more tourists checking in Agra, but the Taj has always been known across the world. It hardly needs the certificate from an online poll to reinforce its charm and status. So, apart from a few ministry officials and over-zealous media men, it will hardly matter to anyone whether 'we' (and not the Taj, because that is what it is all about, isnt it ? ) make it or not. I doubt if the fishermen who sail across the Taj on the Yamuna or the rickshaw-wallahs in Agra who drive the tourists down to the monument would even notice the difference post 7th July. And it sure as hell would not even slightly alter our opinion about the Taj. For me, it will always remain the enduring monument of love and devotion, 7 wonders or not. All this propaganda is nothing but a media created campaign (like many others) just to mobilize public opinion and action. Sadly, it is on a cause that is as relevant to society and social life as the mayor's office is to the standard of life of Mumbaikars.