Thursday, August 13, 2009

Independence Day Greetings

Happy Independence Day

More than 6 decades – still the debate rages. Only political freedom and no economic independence – the cry has not changed all these years. We may argue on such controversies but there can hardly be any doubt that India as a nation, need to travel a long way before at least a decent majority is guaranteed of basic necessities. The agenda of development has become so twisted that there are as much opinions as the population itself on what is to be done.

On the one side we have all hi-fi analysis touting the invasion of television in rural households as a giant leap in India’s growth story. The mobile phone revolution and use of hi-tech gadgets by the vegetable vendor is seen as second liberation. Somebody suddenly talks of building temple as the only way forward and later wants to bring back all black money stashed in foreign banks. In the midst of all confusion, gay marriage becomes the number one issue – the reforms in this direction is advocated as the panacea to root out all social evils and to bring India in the league of developed nations.

The avaricious Sensex which is the most insensitive index vis-à-vis all social problems, is the only barometer for the pundits to measure our wellness. For some driving out industry is an achievement. For some naxals are a menace while the corrupt babus and netas are not. Installation of statues will improve the living conditions of the downtrodden and of course, others also. Till the other day, global best practices and integration were proclaimed as sine qua non and now, they say Indian economy managed to save its skin from economic chaos because of relative insulation.

All this apart, starvation deaths continue to be reported. Children and women in remote villages suffer and die of malnutrition, hunger and lack of medical attention. No social security for the aged and infirm who must work till they land in the grave. The more we talk about (in)sensitivity, civic (non)awareness, social (ir)responsibility, etc., the more pessimistic it sounds. Independence Day gives us some time to reflect on what we need and what don’t, where we are headed and where we ought to, what are the values with which our individual and social lives have become polluted and what are the values we should yearn to imbibe…Let me think first rather than being preachy.

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