January 01, 2005

CHANGE-where is it?

The other day, we were discussing ‘mass production and production of masses-which would be better?’ But we ended up discussing the common (existing) problems in India which the commoners face, we face, the country as a whole does. We talked about many issues and phases involved and, threats to the so-called development of our beloved (how many feel so?) country. During the entire session and even later, there was a recurring and a unique question popping up in my mind-Where is India really heading towards? As a literate with a high technological urge, one might say that we set off in quest of technological developments (happiness to the poor?), better economic reforms (levying taxes even on wheat and rice which form the staple food for most of the lower-middle class and fewer below poverty-line, who cannot afford to buy anything else to feed themselves upon?). If I say more, there will be much more left to be said. But, even then, my intentions are not to discuss the future visions/plans of the ‘planning commission’.

Now, do not consider me as a person against technology. I am equally happy to see India heading towards more and more technology. But this should not be the case alone. Going by the recent statistics, over sixty-percent of the Indians are below poverty line. What exactly is being done to them? Now, one cannot expect a half-naked person, always with a half-empty stomach and wrapped up in problems relating to the constant supply of roti, kapda aur makaan (food, clothing and shelter) to his family, to feel happy when there happens to be a pokhran test or when India signs yet another treaty. One of my friends’ views was that unemployment should be eradicated and that because of the proliferation of mass production, people are getting unemployed, especially in the agricultural sector. He said,” by getting along with the ‘production by masses’, we would get opportunities to create more jobs for the poor”. But, my dear friend, would it not be sensible to employ five people on a machine than to make ten of them work manually, which, of course would consume a lot of time and meanwhile, during that period, more work could be done efficiently. Our beloved President, Dr. A.P.J. Kalam always ends his speech saying India would eradicate poverty by 2025. I really hope it would happen, however, I wonder if it is possible. In fact, it is something to be considered next to impossible. As this should be something practical, let us not consider the popular saying that nothing is impossible if one really wants to achieve it (this ‘it’ may differ from person to person based on his/her interests).

Analyzing the whole scenario, one can come to many conclusions, as such. If poverty is to be eradicated, then, everybody should be employed to make them capable of earning their own living. This will in turn indicate the need for literacy among all the people, which, of course is not possible too. I hear many people (this includes most of our corrupt politicians too!) saying that the most possible solution to this problem lies in the hands of people themselves. Do you remember the not-so-hit (flop?) plan made by the central government long before? – The shiksha yojna (the education scheme). It asked literate Indians to educate as many illiterates as possible. In fact, I was (am) also one of them who thought of doing so. Now let me bring to your notice one of its consequences. This happened thrice; however, I will speak of only one such instance. I happened to ask my maid’s daughter if she was interested in learning how to read and write, and was quite shocked to hear what she said. She told me that it actually would waste her time and she felt any other work done in this time will earn her more money. Basically, she was not interested in becoming a literate. This is the case with many other people too. Now, to achieve all this, the mindset of these people should be changed first, which, again is not quite possible. Then, how are we going to make a better India, when, such conditions are still prevalent in it. Where will the solution be brought from?

If I talk more, then, I will have to talk about other issues too, which are actually hampering our real development –the development of the masses; like corruption, inhumanity and many other forces that act upon people and drive them into action. Forces can be both internal (greed for money, power etc.) and external (compulsions made by others, blackmailing etc.). I will say more on these forces later. Everything in India needs a change and everything has a nexus with every other thing. So, the entire system (base) needs a change, to be revived, which could be a revolution of all sorts. What we really need is a change, not that of the government at the centre, but a change in ourselves, every one of us; a change which will fortify the real development of India. Now another question has started popping up in my mind- “Change? Where exactly is it?”

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