Saturday, September 16, 2006

Is it enough that the Prime Minister is honest?

How dire is the Indian situation? I find it difficult to gauge the truth.

On the one hand we have the "numbers" coming out every day. Infosys, Wipro, Reliance Energy, Biocon, ....... On the other, the Prime Minister announces "packages" for suicide riven Vidarbha. Where lies the truth? Is India making rapid progress towards the economic well being of its billion plus or is it down-sliding into desperate poverty?

Look at it another way: On the one hand, the ruling establishment, which, by the way, includes us, flaunts its billion plus demography as THE ASSEST of the nation; one that has catapulted us into the ranks of the great nations of the world and, virtually, into the UN Security Council. On the other, we allow the very people who make us such a great nation to die unnecessary deaths by the millions every year: female foeticide and infanticide, high infant mortality in general, high maternal mortality, starvation deaths, disease epidemics, one of the highest accident rates in the world, et al.

Do we imagine that it is only the Lakshmi Mittals and the Amartaya Sens and the Indira Nooyis that enable us to hold our heads high when we says we are Indians? No doubt they and many other "successful" Indians have helped erase the ubiquitous image of the naked, starving Indian: going around the world with a begging bowl. Perhaps that is all that we care about; how the world paints us. After all, it is only Maya.

Do we imagine that we will actually become a great nation on the strength of the handful of corporate czars, Nobel laureates, missiles and, atomic weapons? Are we labouring under the illusion that China is on the verge of becoming a great and powerful nation, whose voice is impossible to ignore because of its nuclear arsenal? Its unprecedented economic boom? A "booming economy" is only so much hot air unless it translates into a modicum of dignity for all: food in every thaali, a shirt on every back, a roof over every head.

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