26 February, 2012

A Call for Reform

First of all, let me share something really awesome with you:

The Indian World blog completed 3 years of its existence yesterday (25th Feb)!!! It has been a wonderful journey with your support, feedback and interaction! I look forward to the same!

This time, presenting a guest post by Aniruddha Badbade

Note: This article was written in May 2010, but still holds relevance to the state of the affairs.

One cannot help but have all his patriotic feelings invoked when Manoj Kumar starts singing “Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle, ugle hire moti… Mere desh ki dharti…” And why shouldn’t it be this way? Every Indian wants the country to prosper and reach the greatest pinnacles.

Those were our pre-independence dreams. Our India, the land of peace, harmony, goodwill, brotherhood. A land which would be well endowed with riches, financial as well as cultural. A country, which would have a strong say in the diplomatic and political decisions of the world. A country, which other countries would look up to in awe and admiration, and people would set the Indians as an example for themselves.

Unfortunately and sadly, the adjective “bitter” would be more of an understatement for the truth that we have to face in today’s times. Yes India is very rich financially. But the money is used for garlands and statues of politicians who have done nothing much other than pulling down positive attempts by others. There is peace, but no guarantee about when some forces would gatecrash the party. There surely exists a lot of brotherhood, but only within a specific region or a state. And the Kasab case definitely provides enough evidence that India takes the teaching “Atithi Devo Bhava” very seriously.

India – a land where any financial transaction, be it one of the government, or the private sector, is incomplete without the murky hand of corruption, lies, deceit, bribery and scandals…

The post independence life for India has surely been one on a giant roller coaster. She has experienced highs as high as the Himalayas themselves and lows as deep as the deepest trenches which would be found on the Planet. We dream of making our India as a super power. But the fact of the matter is that it totally not possible if the elements namely politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, entrepreneurs and all others who have placed their interests above that of the nation are not flushed out of the system. The recent case of Madhuri Gupta turning into a spy just for “revenge” for posting her in India seems very humorous to say the least. But cases like these or the one where former policemen and CRPF officials selling arms to the Maoists and getting their own men brutally massacred are exactly what stalls the full fledged progress of India. It will surely not come as a shock if the roadside hawker from whom we take our daily dose of ‘vada pav’ says turn my stall into a mall before inking a peace agreement with Pakistan.

One of the most important aspects of going forward is keeping your rear intact. And sadly, but truly, India has failed to do so. We have accepted the cultures and ways of the West but forgot about our own roots. We accepted the modern ideologies and thoughts which would help us progress, but forgot the Gandhian school of though which, even though I do not personally endorse, had helped us attain freedom from the British who totally sucked on the wealth and prosperity of our country in a way that would put a leech to shame. However, kudos to the likes of Usha Uthup and Asha Bhosle in this regard for they have held together the integrity of Indian culture with their refusal to give up the sari or the ‘gajra’ even while performing in the West or with the West.

There is a vast difference in the way of life of Indians and the Westerners. If an Indian from a rural area, who has spent his a major portion of his life in a dhoti, gets a chance to visit a foreign country, there is more than 90% chance that he will come back with heavily accented English and that too in a suit and boots. But even if a Westerner did go about traveling India in Indian traditional dresses, he won’t go back to his country and spit in every nook and corner he sees as it is in India.

Currently, things have gone totally haywire from the point of view of administration. If there is a job that involves visiting a government office, a person does not hesitate even for a second to think that it is going to be one of the toughest tasks of his entire life. ‘Babu’-dom, bribery, and corruption has taken over the mantle of administrative affairs everywhere. And even though there have been repeated attempts to flush it out, the officials responsible for doing so have given the adage “If you can’t beat them, join them” a totally new meaning. This corruption needs to be uprooted if true progress has to be made. People need to be made more aware of their duties of reporting bribery rather than encouraging these babus at first and then throwing curses at them like a quintessential angry Indian woman who would throw utensils at her husband if he forgot to take her to the village fair.

We are leaders in the world in numerous fields, be it cricket, cinema or entrepreneurship. But why is the focus mainly on the glitz and glamour and giving a chance to the rich to become richer but at the same time letting the poor drown in their poverty. Why, that is exactly what the British had done for more than 200 years! It is high time the government focuses on the dirt and murk of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy lying in the dark underbellies of every city, town and village. These issues need to be tackled at the grassroots instead of passing bills in the Parliament House.

What the Congress has failed to realize while lobbying for the Women’s Bill, over which there was a huge furor in the Parliament recently that the bill is not going to empower women in the true sense. A simple piece of paper is not going to change the mindset of lakhs of rural men who turn a woman into a slave but just give them a tag of “wife”. Creating 33% reservations for women in legislative bodies is not going to reduce the number of miles that a woman has to walk to get water to just sustain her family. Education bills providing free primary education to the children is not going to unsettle the orthodox minds who chain their children in the house with a view that “A girl’s place is in the kitchen” or “A boy has to just continue what the father is doing and no education is essential for that purpose”.

What we truly need in today’s times are ‘freedom fighters’ but with a whole new definition of that tag. These should be people willing to raise their head above the dirt and try to break free from the shackles of corruption that we have got ourselves into over the past 60 years, people who would not hesitate in calling a stick a stick instead of beating around the bush.

One such freedom fighter had been born in the form of Shashi Tharoor. But sadly, he was martyred even before he could enter his teenage years.

Major upheavals need to be accomplished before India finally attains the title of ‘super power’. Challenges need to be completed and cleansing the rust that has accumulated on the cogs of the administrative machinery is surely the most daunting of them all. But the job has been started on a firm footing, even though at a snail’s pace. Now it has to be ensured that a rotten apple does not enter the basket of thoughts which would take the country forward. And surely, it is only a matter of time before India starts rapid progress and comes on par with developed nations and starts jostling for the position that the USA has competently held for so many years, that of world domination...

Aniruddha is an Engineering student and Army aspirant based in Mumbai.