Sunday, March 29, 2009

Can India 'Get there'?

A quick update: I'm writing my thesis right now and don't get enough time to write posts as usual. After all, its hard to find the passion to write when all you've done is to wrestle with words for the past four hours straight. Imagine grappling with multiple such sessions and you'd get an idea as to what I'm going through. But, in all that, I treat myself to reading articles when I'm done with parts of my work. Though I keep it to a bare minimum, they are a good perk-me-up. One of my friends recently sent me a link to an article that pulled me out of my thesis-writing reverie.

Do read the article to understand my post better!

Being an Indian, I accept with shame that ALL of it is true. Every single thing is true. And the comment about the population and political structure being behind it got me saying "Oh-so-true!". But the problem is not only because of population and politicians. It is deeply rooted in the culture. There were always lots of people to do everything. All the machine-intensive tasks of the West are labor-intensive in India(and generally, the East). For example, here, I use a vacuum cleaner, a dish washer, a laundromat, etc for my daily cleaning. But, back in home, there were people to help out with everything.

Further, when you have resources only fit for 10 people and you have 100 people fighting for it, people would do anything and everything to be in that elite 10. And what happens if you have the ability to collect resources meant for 2 or even 3 people? People start hoarding for their future, their kids' future and so on. Hence the divide between haves and have-nots increases. For, after all, there is no limit to a man's greed, right? So, in India, life is always "survival of the fittest". If you wanted to do well in life, you had to compete with 1000 other people in India compared to 3 other people in USA and other western countries. That makes a HUGE difference in the way people's attitude towards life. All said and done, life in US is a huge vacation compared to what is going on in India. Imagine if you worked hard all day for a big loaf of bread and got it? That is US. But if you worked hard all day for a small piece of bread but you are still not sure if you would get it or not? That is India.

This attitude towards life is the basic reason behind so many problems in politics, corruption, lack of good infrastructure (lots of infrastructure money is used to fund the contractors' private kitties first, and whatever remains goes to the actual work), pollution, etc. The Indian law code and budget are really good. But implementation sucks! The author had asked what the Nobel laureates and economists are doing for the country. They did what they know best: design a really good system taking into account all variables. As usual, they were brilliant in it. That is why we have one of the best law codes in the world and some of the most efficient budget plans. However, they are not good at implementation. And that is what India lacks! India needs people who are free of this 'hoard-all' mentality and who are brave enough to implement the perfect systems we have got already.

Further, the author said that India cannot change. I do not agree with it. India is changing, but in smaller portions. As more and more people are getting educated, they start realizing what is good and what is bad. That would lead to a better India, for sure. The reason Kerala is a lot better(from the author's view) is because it has 97% literacy rate. But Kerala has problems of its own which might not be visible to a tourist. I feel that education and efficient usage of resources would really change India, albeit in smaller steps. As more and more people realize that pollution and corruption would eventually kill them, there would come a systemic change. That change would change everything else as well. However, this change cannot be brought about by the Government(even if it wished) or any external body simply because these problems are deeply rooted in the Indian's daily way of life. So, quoting China or Thailand or US and comparing them with India is like comparing apples to oranges.

To fellow Indians, lets strive to make that change in our lives. Use lesser resources, work better, improve your life, help a less fortunate human. If we multiply that times one billion, we can surely 'get there'.

To fellow world citizens, India is still a very good place. I still welcome one and all to come to India and experience the unique experience it provides. India is much much more than all these problems. That is the beauty and problem of India. It has layers and layers of complexity to it. There is no one definition of India nor solution for its problems.

And, winning without problems is not challenging. Its winning, despite problems, that is challenging. And I'm sure India will win and overcome its problems, even if it takes time.

What are your thoughts on it? Do you think India is too big to succumb to these problems? Or do you think these problems are too deeply 'into the system' to make a change?


R Srikkant said...

A lot of things mentioned in the highlighted article, i am sure, would change within i leave this planet. No one needs to stand in a queue for a train ticket anymore.

Corruption/Bureaucracy will end with e-governance projects being implemented.

Pollution etc.., will be there as long as the population/land surface is this high. (16% population on 3% land surface)

If we are really bothered abt any of these, we should do more than writing blogs and articles from abroad! And even before that, we should stop being pessimistic! Nothing personal! just a general opinion.

alpine path said...

Srikkant, I'm hoping for the same changes too. Writing blogs and articles, whether from abroad or India, is all the same! The main use of these articles is to create awareness among people. As long as that gets done, why bother where the author is from? For example, the article's author, though a tourist, could easily pin point what is wrong with India. Its in our interest to take good advice despite wherever it comes from. Btw, I didn't get the pessimistic part of the comment for I don't remember having a pessimistic tone in the post. But, yeah, pessimism is worse than all other problems combined! And Indians are generally optimistic. So pessimism shouldn't be one of the issues.