It's a move which once again brings into focus class discrimination. Crossroads, Indias newest shopping mall and the first of its kind as the PR hype would have it, has defined as first-class citizens those who own a cellphone, a club membership, credit card, student ID card or a frequent flyer card. Only such persons will be allowed free entry into the shopping plaza on Sundays and public holidays. Lesser mortals will have to buy a Rs 60 redemption coupon before being allowed entry. Said Crossroads managing director, Jaydev Mody, in a press statement: "The Redemption Coupon System is not universally applicable and will not be a deterrent to any genuine patron of the mall."
The move has caused outrage in certain quarters of Mumbai. Human rights activists see this as an act which promotes elitism. It has also come as a shock to chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who, speaking to Outlook, disapproved of it. "It is the creation of a new class. This cannot be done in a country like India." In fact, the appalled CM also believes the move could be against the law. Says he: "With whose permission have they formulated a system such as this? It is completely unconstitutional."
Such criticism comes as a surprise to Crossroads management. The malls PR manager, Kishore Hattangadi, is taken aback at the charge that the Piramal groups shopping mall is setting about to create a new class of Indians. "We are allowing everybody, even municipal school kids with ID cards, in. There is no attempt to classify any shoppers. This has been done at the request of our regular clients who found they had no elbow room in the mall on holidays in the midst of all the onlookers. In fact, they have thanked us for making it easier for them to shop."
That statement only...