Monthly Archives: August 2010

>The Dream Called ‘India’…

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“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…!”

This line in particular, from the speech of the first Prime Minister of independent India, better known to me as Chacha Nehru, on the eve of the Independence Day, rings in my ears every time I think about my mother-land India’s Independence Day…

We take on the 64th year… A million challenges ahead of us… A million goals… A million benchmarks to be set… A millions paths to be paved… A million years of tradition to be preserved… A million traditions to uphold… And a billion voices to be heard… That’s India…!

When the fight for independence first began in the year 1857 with Mangal Pandey and his supporters, who would have thought that the India would be like it is today? Even those who were a part of the 1947 victory wouldn’t have, I believe.

I wonder at times what really was the dream called ‘India’? What ‘India’ did those who helped us get freedom and independence wish for? How did they look at India one decade into the 21st Century? Where did it stand according to their vision? Where was it heading from there?

They would have dreamt of an India devoid of the political instability that it has faced for centuries… And yes, we achieved it… But not the maturity or will among most politicians to do something for the nation that they would be proud about themselves…

They would have dreamt of an India where life would be simpler, easier… Where the problems of yester-years like slavery, casteism, racial discrimination wouldn’t stand a ground… Yes it is easier, simpler… And has even lost much of the casteism that once prevailed… But only to be replaced by territorial breakdown of the country… Where people would be criticized just because of the region their ancestors settled in, during their early days… That there would be communal disharmony, throughout the nation, just because of the formation of states, which were made to make governance easy…

They would have dreamt of an India where education would be the back-bone… And there is work going on in that direction, thankfully! There are bills passed, acts being made… But the standard of education, the burden of education, the way education is seen, the condition in which schools throughout the country are, the equipment, staff, knowledge they can provide… All of them seem far from satisfactory. And sometimes I feel, that it wouldn’t really matter if they had made only a few schools, but at least made them in complete, without these flaws…

They would have dreamt of an India that which would be of the leading developing nations… The one that would constantly strive onto making progress, earning from high exports, high on foreign trade, that would give the world a hope of a super-power in the making… And yes we are there… Only the fourth nation in the world to surpass the Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) of a trillion U.S. dollars. But, are we actually rich? With more than 40% of population under the poverty line, can we call ourselves as a nation close to becoming a super-power? Is the money being actually being used for the nation? With European Banks claiming to have deposits of over a billion crores with them, from India, aren’t we fraudulent?

They would have dreamt of an India where justice would be the foremost… We have so many courts… So many lawyers, judges… A complete Constitution… Justice too, in a few cases, even if it is delayed… But what about those 20 million and more cases pending? Where is the justice? Why aren’t people at fault afraid of committing crimes? Why are they just not bothered about being convicted under the court of law? And those with power, misuse it to their benefit because no one can ask them anything, no one can object them… Inefficient judiciary… Need I say more?

They would have dreamt of an India where media would be responsible, vigilant, diligent… And yes it is… There are numerous news channels in India… All running high on TRPs… But what do most news channels give us except adding to the ‘masala’? Where’s the real news? And those who get us the real news, are soon attracted to the newer issues, and the issues of the past just keep deepening…

They would have dreamt of an India which would be well advanced in communication, where telephones and tars available at almost every household (that was the only thing then!)… Wouldn’t have even thought about fax or mobile phones, leave alone the internet! And yes, we have come a long way… As of now, India has the largest mobile phone access in the world, almost 5% of the country with broadband service, telephones in almost every house… But the development of ours compared to the rest of the world is actually very poor… The average internet speed of India is a mere 772 kb/s which is less than half of the world’s average internet speed (1.5 mb/s)… India ranks 115th in the world when it comes to this aspect. Also, while the world gets ready to face 4G technology for mobile phones, India still struggles to get 3G implemented.

They would have dreamt of an India where transport and infrastructure would be something every Indian can boast about… Lots of connectivity, rail and road networks, major projects, etc… Yes we have the deepest connectivity when it comes to roads and railways… We also have engineering and infrastructural marvels… But still, we don’t have the best technology to run them… We still are running trains that would operate on electricity, while the world operates Mag-Lev (magnetically elevated) trains to reduce travel time. Our infrastructure is completely in shambles… And as a joke on it goes, we sometimes fail to understand if the hole is in the road or the road is in the hole…! Just because, none of these projects are completed on time and the whole region is affected by traffic, congestion and other issues.

They would have dreamt of an India which would be competing with the best in the world when it comes to science, space and sports… Indian space discoveries make us proud… When Indian Cricket Team, Saina Nehwal (badminton), Narain Karthikeyan (international circuit racing), Mahesh Bhupati (tennis), Leander Paes (tennis), Baichung Bhutia (football) do well, we get happy… While I believe no substantial discovery from India has been made in the field of science in the last 6 decades (correct me if I am wrong), India’s space mission is far from that of the rest of the world… While the United States plans to colonize the lunar surface, India dreams of stepping foot on it… While the Americans and Chinese take minimum a medal in each field of sports, India struggles to get a total of 3 in the Olympics!

They would have dreamt of an India free from evils of corruption… And well this is something where we have probably not achieved anything substantial… Rather, I wonder how wrong would I be if I said we have achieved ‘nothing’! Most of us ourselves pay bribes to get our work done, to get loose, to bend the system in our way… And end up saying ‘Sab karte hain… Hum kyun nahi? (Everyone does it… Then why not me?)’ And most of these are people who comment on the credibility of officials and politicians… Do we really have a right to say a word about them when we ourselves support and entertain corruption?

They would have dreamt of an India where every new generation would be proud to live… To call it their own… Their mother-land… And yes, we have that… We have each and every small child shouting ‘Jai Hind! (Hail India!)’. We have them pinning a small flag of India on their clothes on days like today and insisting to get themselves an Indian flag… But the older generations are far from proud… They even pity themselves to be here and not to have flee the country if they have had their opportunities in the past…

There are problems which have been suppressed over time… And that has led to their deepening like that of a cavity… But along with them, the newer ones come to life… And the pile just keeps increasing to touch new heights… And no one even would try to shake the strong base so that all the problems end in the shortest possible time… No one would even try to remove the problems one at a time… And yes, it is so… We have to face it. Bitterly, sadly, but that’s the plain reality.

Freedom… Independence… Responsibilities… All these three words are so synonymous and together going… And probably, we haven’t been able to fulfill any of them…

We, as a nation, have proven to the world that we have surpassed every dream that we were faced with… Better than expected, in most cases, even. But, along with that, we have forgotten what really was ours… Our tradition, values, and virtues. We have lost our individuality. We have given up on quality while vying for quantity… We have over-looked what seemed like minor problems only to see them widen their reach, with time… That’s what we have done… Already…

The world sees us as a nation that has lost it’s might… That lives on hyped hopes… That has core problems which are barely even talked about… That is afraid of facing the reality…

There are those I know, who say ‘Aisa hota hai… Aur aisa hi hota rahega… (It has been happening like this… And it will go on…)’ And probably, that’s the voice of the masses… The disappointment of the people… But I think these are just cynics who are afraid that they will have a tough time adapting to the new systems as and when they change… And as the popular dialogue from the movie Rang De Basanti goes ‘Koi desh perfect nahi hota… Use perfect banana padta hai… (No country is perfect… It has to be carved to perfection…)’, it keeps me in hope that things can change, will change… Because finally, at the end of the day, change is what we need…

All said and done, I myself don’t see anything the way it prevails… I see it better than the best… The dreams of India are still redeemed in my eyes… Because every time in history when India was pitied upon, India proved it to the world what it really is… And what India can do… It just needs that one jolt, one awakening and then we have our tryst with The Dream Called ‘India’…!

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