Opinion: Pollution and politics through Taj Mahal's gaze
the Taj Mahal was camouflaged with a forest of twigs and leaves and draped with burlap during Pakistan's air strikes on eleven airfields in north-western India in 1971. Photograph: (Others)
On the evening of 3 December 1971, at about 5:40 pm, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched surprise per-emptive strikes on eleven airfields in north-western India, including Agra, which was 300 miles (480 km) from the border. At the time of this attack, the Taj Mahal was camouflaged with a forest of twigs and leaves and draped with burlap because its marble glowed like a white beacon in the moonlight.
The marble's shine is less provocative these days, not because the structure decided to protest against the disparaging debate of why it could not be part of the state's tourism booklet but because it suffocates from the poor quality of debates on issues of air pollution. The debate is seasonal and the yearly trend is almost a decade old.
Even In 1942, during the World War II, Taj Mahal was covered in bamboo scaffolding as the British thought that the Taj Mahal was vulnerable to bombing by the German Luftwaffe bombers (and also the Japanese).
Taj Mahal, as a monument has fought against more than security threats and air pollution, its burqa is more than the coverage of twigs and bamboo. In the smog of political tussle and changing ideologies, it has on many occasion tugged to its burqa.
It almost tugged to its burqa when fictional novels questioned its existence and, based on sketchy facts, presented an alternate image of a temple which was converted to make place for the Taj. People agreed, not all although.
The Archaeological department installed a lab to check whether the city pollution and other pollutants were degrading the marble and its shine. To protect it, a mudpack solution was suggested. Wherein, the marble is polished by a certain mud. Rubbing mud and making it shiny. The deal is still on.
There is no research released on the gradual effect of time on the health of the Taj Mahal.
One of the wonders of the world, Taj Mahal often gazes at its nearest companion, the Mosque and tries to identify if anyone else is clad in similar shadow. When people walk by and look at the monument, whether the sense of belonging is national or anti-national. Whether such thoughts will make it leftist or something else.
The worlds largest democracy is trying to strengthen its defences and forces chose to look the other way as there was bounty announced on the head of the leading artist of a film named Padmavati.
Talking of safety and security, Pakistan government was ordered by a judicial review board to release Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of 26/11. The US had announced a $10 million bounty for Saaed for his alleged role in the Mumbai terror attack.
The thunder and storm began as the air cleared a bit, the prediction says, the suffocation will subside.
Taj Mahal looked the other way towards Ayodhya now, its 06 Dec.
The burqa stays...
(Disclaimer: The author writes here in a personal capacity).