It was December 16, 1918, when the first-ever International flight from Europe to India had landed in Allahabad. Certainly, a moment of pride for the United Provinces, now called Uttar Pradesh (UP) for being included on the itinerary along with Karachi, Delhi, and Kolkata in undivided India. Allahabad – an already established major political center of importance back then, this incident strengthened the city’s position as a future metropolitan city.
Allahabad is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimages and a place for intellectuals, literary geniuses, and Hindi poets, but a lesser-known fact is that it was also a center of the revolution for Indian independence. An ancient city that has the most correct time in India, as the 82°30′ E longitude that defines the Indian Standard Time passes through the city of Allahabad. The University of Allahabad established by the Britishers during the colonial era was popularly known as the Oxford of the East.
The strong cultural and mythological heritage of Allahabad can be seen at the Sangam, also called Prayag because of which the ancient city got its name – Prayag. It’s the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. The city hosts Kumbh Mela – the world’s largest gathering of people and the largest fair, every 12 years. Prayag or popularly, Allahabad has now been renamed to Prayagraj by the government. Nevertheless, it’s also an important town for other faiths who have a sizeable population living there. Christians, Muslims, Parsis, and Sikhs have all made Allahabad their hometown.
People from most parts of Northern and Eastern India migrated to Allahabad for education and in search of a happy, peaceful life. For all the political, literary, religious, and cultural reasons, Allahabad should have been an easy choice to remain as the capital of UP and emerge as one of the biggest metropolitan cities of India. However, the reality is far from what one could have imagined a century ago.
Nobody is bothered about Allahabad after the Indian independence. They can only change the name of the city but that won’t bring back its old glory unless real development happens on a large scale. Be it any party or leader, nobody did anything significant for the city of Allahabad that was once the capital of the region now called UP, and also the capital of India for one day during the British era in 1858. Did you know that?
Most of the development happens only at Lucknow in UP and to some extent Varanasi and Agra. How a great city with a strong heritage can be completely sidelined for political reasons can be best understood by looking at Allahabad.
The city where the first International flight from Europe landed is yet to get a proper commercial airport of its own. It only got a commercial terminal on an Airforce land and that too happened just a few years ago. The best example of sidelining and ignoring a city.
Indian politicians have completely destroyed the city, and no one cares but they ask for votes at the time of the election. Amitabh Bacchan, a famous actor who belongs to this city contested elections in the early 1980s and won. Did he do anything for his hometown? Hahaha, you can find out yourself! To add to that, the famous “first family of India” had Allahabad as their hometown for decades without bothering much about it.
As the ignorance of various governments continued, people who wanted to achieve something bigger in life had no choice left but to migrate to other cities for better education and job prospects. The migration gives them a better lifestyle and benefits. In the past 25-30 years, I have been a witness to such bulk migrations. This leaves the city with some old government offices and courts that will remain here for some more time, as many had already been shifted to Lucknow.
The glorious past is to be forgotten, the reality is Allahabad now stands as an underrated city ruined by the politicians favoring other places where they had a vote bank. They only remember it once in 6 years at the Ardh Kumbh Mela and then at the Kumbh Mela every 12 years.
The worry is what will happen to the city 20 years from now. Will the city still exist then or it will turn out to be a small rural town with huge unemployment. Provided that all government offices and courts don’t shift to Lucknow, there could be a slight ray of hope alive. Of course, our politicians won’t let the industrial setup revive there. Information Technology, Manufacturing, Automobile sectors won’t come to the city, ever. AIIMS is opening in Raibareily, a much smaller town having no significance but a vote bank. Who all will live in the city after 20 years and what will be their source of income is another concern.
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