Vrindavan, 2016.02.17 (VT): As with the bus-stop shelters without buses we had our reservations when we saw the MVDA’s imposing highway signs placed on the Parikrama Marg (VIP Road in MVDA parlance). Like the hoardings which are becoming more and more anarchic and ubiquitous, these highway signs primarily serve the function of adding to the town’s clutter. And like the shelters and everything else, provision has to be made for maintenance and removal when things start falling apart.
We already have the abandoned pillars of the Keshi Ghat bypass, which seem to have been bequeathed as an eternal monument to misguided thinking about development, and now it appears that these other monuments to modernity are to disintegrate in front of our very eyes leaving nothing more than eyesores to eventually be buried in the famous Braja dust.
One thing is certain: they do not add to Vrindavan’s beauty.
One thing is not certain: that they are really necessary. Like the bus stop benches, they are the brilliant idea of someone who wants to push Vrindavan into the 21st century too quickly. This is simply the modern art of creating waste, otherwise known as economic development.
In my mind, the more clutter, the less peace. The Indian scriptures have stated since time immemorial that sattva is the only thing necessary for happiness and that rajas and tamas are inimical to happiness. The creation of the clutter is rajas, its disintegration before our eyes is tamas. The overall effect is negative to a visitor’s experience of Vrindavan.
Hoardings should be limited to certain parts of the city and they should be strictly controlled for size, angle, etc. And what is the beauty of a torn and old billboard, such as in the picture below? Will true aesthetical thinking ever become a part of Vrindavan’s way forward, or is glass and steel and the glitter of artificial modernity the only thing that says “beauty” to the masters of Indian development?