Tuesday, August 14, 2007

INDIA AT 60


What is it to be 60 years old? Imagine you were 60 years old you would have been flooded with greetings which would be on the following lines:

  • Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

  • Age is a high price to pay for maturity.

And the gifts that you could possibly get would include among other things – a 60th coffee mug and a walking stick.

Being 60 years is considered auspicious by many; there would a thanksgiving service at the local temple or church and a party would be arranged, were you will be reminded of all the things that you did for the last 60 years via a toast. (And or a power point presentation if you have tech savvy children or nieces/nephews) Rest assured only the good qualities and incidents will be mentioned, the goof ups will only remain in memory.

But when a country turns 60 it tends to be different. I am of the opinion that a country is a sum total of the people that reside in it. Hence, along with lavish praise some criticism, of us, is in order.

Sixty years on, we have an independent judiciary (I refer to the Supreme Court) before which no one is too high, a thriving economy, and an uninhibited blog-sphere where one can agitate for any cause whatsoever, a vibrant media and most importantly India has been a role model for multi-cultural democracy. (Though our elections resemble a carnival and we have an increasingly boisterous parliament). Today, the world looks at India as a super power. Every move that India makes is watched keenly. My friends in the academia world keep telling me that amidst all the squalor, things are looking up! India is rising!

In my earlier post, I had written:

  • India has an affluent middle class that has grown in just a few years.
  • We have more millionaires today than ever before.
  • We also have more poor people than ever before.
  • We have more street children & more missing young girls than ever before.
  • We have more rogues, ruffians, riff-raff and dons than ever before.
  • Eradicated diseases like Tuberculosis and Malaria are returning with a vengeance.
  • We do not have a single city with enough drinking water.
  • We do not have a single clean city; all our cities have garbage removal and disposal problems.
  • Our politicians no longer even pretend respect for the public.
  • The numbers of criminals who are MLAs have increased.

Well, one can add many more points. But I would like to concentrate on just two:

  • We are becoming increasingly intolerant.
  • We are becoming increasingly fundamentalist.

In India we declare that a teacher can be punished for calling a student stupid; but we allow fundamentalists, who declare that they will behead or kill an author, go scot-free. What gives? Where are we heading?

This, to my mind, is a serious lacuna.

It disturbs me. Religion and politics make sound bedfellows. But they also drive the sane to despair. Will we be able to break the nexus and rise above? What will it be when India turns 75?

Spare a thought.



“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.......

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”


– Rabindranath Tagore







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