A few years back, in order to prop us up as a bulwark against China, the US, supported by the Western media, started a relentless campaign to obliquely praise India for its “spectacular GDP growth”. This suited our politicians and bureaucrats since all this while they had to face the wrath of the people for let alone their aspirations, but, even the barest minimum necessities of life not having been met. Soon the think-tanks in India and the intelligentsia took up the anthem of ‘the growth story of India’ and Indian self-serving analysts started working out the exact dates by which we would overtake the economies of Japan, China and finally the US. The feel-good factor made many people happy and excited.
What went wrong? Firstly, we forgot that all indices, particularly the Human Development Index, put us at the bottom of the heap, tucked roughly between Belize and Uganda. We forgot that GDP growth largely reflected how well are the richest of the rich amassing wealth in India.
Secondly, together with Europe, the US economy had slowed down to near recession and in comparison, isolated (and bolstered too) as we were with our ‘self-sufficiency’ of domestic demand, we seemed to have been unaffected by the global economic slow-down. Since this economic complacency was not based on any robust fundamentals, it was soon to take a hit; which it has done now that the US economy is recovering. The dollar is already at an exchange rate of more than 62 rupees. How low is the value of the Indian currency can be made out by this curious observation that the politicians have stopped accepting Indian currency in bribes and now accept only gold. As a result of this artificially raised demand the gold-prices have experienced a sudden spurt.
Indeed, even abroad, the perception about India being touted as an economic giant gave way to India being the most corrupt country in the world. One German business daily which wrote an editorial on India said: “India is becoming a Banana Republic instead of being an economic superpower. To get the cut motion designated out, assurances are made to political allays. Special treatment is promised at the expense of the people. So, Ms Mayawati who is Chief Minister of the most densely inhabited state, is calmed when an intelligence agency probe is scrapped. The multi-million dollars fodder scam by another former chief minister wielding enormous power is put in cold storage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairs over this kind of unparalleled loot.”
This newspaper editorial is a bit dated and we have since had many cusecs of water having gone down our polluted and corrupt, but still sacred river of Ganga. Economically, nothing describes our state of affairs better than our perpetually pot-holed roads. Enormous moneys go into maintaining these. And yet, with the first sign of rains, life becomes hell for all commuters. A routine trip to the office that used to take only twenty minutes, then starts taking ninety or more accompanied by the mood of the computer having been marred for the whole day having to battle against the pot holes and fellow traffickers. But, curiously, those who reach the other end silently pat themselves on the back for having reached safely whilst fellow commuters are still stuck on the road. This is, hence, representative of some of our Indians complacency in the face of the disaster that stares us in the face.
The dismal economic scenario, accompanied by rampant corruption and lack of even basic infrastructure, have come about when the shadow Prime Minister, who is strong in economics, is repeatedly asked to indulge in politics, wherein he is a weakling. Isn’t it a shame that the only time he showed he had a spine was when, on behest of the US, he took a firm stand that nuclear power is what the nation needs most at this juncture and would automatically solve all our other problems?
Since the ruling Congress front has failed miserably, one would start hopefully assuming that the main opposition – BJP front – would come up with an alternate plan or strategy to buck up economy, provide basic amenities and infrastructure, and control corruption. Nay, on the other hand, BJP has come up with their oft-repeated clincher of Ram Mandir. Do you think they have gone bonkers? No, I think that they have done their mathematics well (I have shown this maths at a post ‘How Proud Should We Be Of Indian Republic At 62?’ in this blog). They know that less than one per-cent swing in the votes is all that is required to be winners and make a government. For obtaining this one per-cent swing they can either take the ‘risky‘ way of being idealists and mean well for the Indian society or obtain it ‘safely’ by polarising the Indian society. They would, therefore, invariably tilt towards such polarisation; knowing very well that Congress too is only pseudo-secularist and panders to the vote bank of the Muslims in a huge way.
With this, the voter is stuck between the devil and the deep-sea; and, the chances of Indian conditions improving are just a pipe-dream. It saddens me to know that this hopeless state of affairs has come about at a time when we should have done the best. It is because the country’s demographic profile suits high-growth. We are a young country with average age of an Indian being only 29 years. This youth could have been employed in rebuilding a nation. Gradually, our population will start ageing like those of European countries and Japan and then favourable conditions for growth would become even more scarce.
What should we do in this scenario? We don’t have the wherewithal and nor is it necessary to jump into the dirty world of elections by fielding candidates. I think the solution lies in this adage: ‘In democracy you don’t just elect a government, you get the one that you deserve’. We can have a voice through social media including blogs, Facebook and Twitter to let the candidates know that we can’t be fooled by promises of Ram Mandir or doles under Food Security Bill. Lets raise our voices so that it becomes mandatory for the candidates to shun corruption, crime, parochialism and come up with realistic and pragmatic plans for the betterment of our people and nation.
For this it is necessary that we choose the right candidates not emotionally but objectively; not merely by his/her party affiliations but by his/her own attributes and potential.
Lets spread the word around that next elections are the last ones before people become so frustrated and alienated from their elected representatives that they are forced to choose the path of revolution.
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