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Monday, October 29, 2012

India whining!

We would ultimately get what we deserve, despite exhortations to the contrary.

The recent uproar against corruption needs to be viewed in its true perspective.  Yes the CWG, 2G, Adarsh, Coal G, DLF and the disabled, all purported scams of an impressive order rightly highlighted by the recent crusades have brought corruption center stage in this nation that has always silently accepted a customary greasy interaction of the masses with the sarkari tantra. Customary because it has almost become a custom in this nation for sarkari mulazims to seek payment for services rendered and silently because the practice is so deeply pervasive that even a thought of deviation appears sacrilege. The sarkari tantra therefore is seen by the populace as machinery meant to rule not serve and therefore any service by it is regarded neither a right nor an obligation.

Why this great national aspiration for political or bureaucratic careers, the fundamental components of the tantra? During the initial years post independence, the aspiration was to serve the nation and the political or the bureaucratic route was obviously the only one available. For Nehru, Patel, Shastri and many other politicians of that era, a position was merely a means to serve the nation, a nation that they indeed served selflessly. Such high levels of dedication and commitment are unfortunately now passé. The bureaucrats of that era were also full of nationalistic zeal and fervour that vanished in a few decades. The times have indeed changed and an impeccable conduct on the part of a politico or a bureaucrat is now generally considered out of the ordinary.

Many would hold the system responsible and rightly so, though it is a system that we had the liberty to design and evolve. Yet we miserably failed if the yawning gaps in almost all sectors are any indication. Perhaps our misdirected efforts that veered us away from providing a sound educational system to the nation led to the current morass and a sound national character never got built. The political arena that earlier witnessed the entry of only highly committed and principled citizens slowly became more and more difficult as well as costly to enter. With passage of time many started viewing politics as an enterprise where an initial investment leads to hefty benefits in the long run. Mere commitment and the desire to do something for the nation were slowly proving to be inadequate reasons and this shift is the root cause behind the massive indulgence in corrupt practices and muscle power by politicians in connivance with bureaucrats, few exceptions apart. 

Simultaneously, the bureaucracy also miserably failed in sticking to the high ground that its forefathers had set at the onset of a free nation. The growing rut that the bureaucratic system steadily witnessed ensured that a sarkari job started being looked upon as the best route for a comfortable existence in a nation plagued by shortages and a worsening economic scenario.  

With few exceptions that can generally be counted on fingertips, power and money have now emerged as the sole motives for entering the political or the bureaucratic arena. An extremely unfortunate scenario for a nation that after over six decades of existence as a free nation is still bracketed as developing, a situation that displays no signs of abetting in the foreseeable future!

Both India and China gained independence at almost the same period, yet China has emerged as an economic powerhouse with an infrastructure at par with the best in the world and India? India is still grappling with basic issues of sanitation, roads, power, water and housing and above all abject poverty and deprivation, issues that unlike other developing countries are amply visible even in the capital city of Delhi.  The situation in the villages and towns in the back of the beyond is beyond perception of the cocktail crowd. Many would however argue that China being a communist nation could do things that a democratic India could not.  Partly true but the rapid prowess of Germany and Japan in almost the same period after their almost thorough demolition during the second world war would appear inexplicable to most of us. And Japan is a nation that has a much higher population density than India. A high population turned to an advantage through able governance. Yes, the excuses that most of us trot out for the glaring failures of the nation may appeal in isolation, but would fade away if viewed with a global perspective.

It is primarily a directional failure. When India came of its own in 1947, it had no real infrastructure except perhaps the railways built by the british, yet what it had in plenty was a burgeoning population that unfortunately displayed symptoms of poverty and deprivation. The only way the abject poverty and deprivation could have been tackled and the country placed on a growth path was through education, education that would have enabled the citizens to get jobs and indulge in enterprise. Unfortunately it was not to be. If we were really educated, we would have appreciated that the only thing that can take a nation forward is delivery, delivery that leads to generation of wealth for economic growth. We would also have appreciated that our sincerity towards the nation can only be assessed by our own actions and mere pontification would not take the nation anywhere. We have also failed to realize that the only way we can contribute positively to nation building is by ensuring that all our actions lead to enhanced production of goods and services. The very fact that all of us, including those in the service of the sarkar look upon the government to somehow, through a sleight of its hand, take us out of the morass we are living in, speaks volumes about the national mindset.  

Nations do not rise sans toil and sacrifices of its constituents and merely achieving consumer goods in plenty can by no stretch of imagination be regarded as the sign of a nation having arrived. Nation building takes decades of concerted efforts and mere rhetoric can at best give false expectations. That there is no alternative to a sound educational system either is a thought that needs to go deep in the psyche of the government machinery to enable true development, not merely marginal spurts and pockets of delivery and excellence that can be showcased only for taking the world for a ride.   

Perhaps the will is there but the flesh has always been weak. If only wishes were horses!

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