The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
— Robert Frost
Another Independence Day has come, actually the 65th one, and as usual the nation has been served its regular dose of an inspiring speech by its prime minister. However, the questions remain about what it has done for the countrymen.
At least Manmohan Singh has shown enough sense in not bragging about ‘India Shining’ like his NDA predecessors and has been realistic in saying that true independence will come only when we “banish poverty, illiteracy, hunger and backwardness”.
I wouldn’t show the audacity to advise the economist on how to steer the economy through these turbulent times of Eurozone crisis, but I definitely know his team should do more to keep my food and fuel bills down.
True that poor monsoons have played truant so far and it will impact the food stocks. But that doesn’t justify close to 40 per cent of foodgrains rotting away due to lack of storage infrastructure. Unless this massive hole is plugged, the effect of all subsidies and special packages will be negated.
While rapid economic growth is being encouraged, little is being done to check the irreversible damage it is doing to the ecology and the people. Special Economic Zones on farmland; hydel projects drowning swathes of forest; toxic emissions that pollute and the millions who are displaced, deprived of dignity and condemned to lives of penury. Those who champion people’s causes and come to power turn even worse oppressors and exploiters.
Corruption is endemic. Central ministers to office attendants in villages; Generals to traffic cops; judiciary, bureaucrats, doctors and scientists… there is no end to the list. And, of course, the ‘enterprising’ politicians who turn multi-billionaires in few years by ‘serving the people’. Anti-corruption crusaders have fallen to the lure of political power and a ‘guru’ with dubious credentials is hogging the limelight.
Society is in tatters. Caste system continues to condemn hundreds of millions to sub-human conditions. Caste kangaroo courts run their writ of murders, gangrapes and ostracism campaigns, and the official machinery only pays lip service to protection of human rights. Reservations that were instituted to promote integration have turned into a major divisive factor. Sex crimes against women and minors are skyrocketing while thousands of female foetuses are killed through selective abortion. Manual scavenging continues and a majority of villages still don’t have toilets. Unless these fundamental issues are resolved, whatever progress we claim to make will remain tall claims.
The GDP share for healthcare remains dismal and social security a distant dream. Dozens of key legislations including Women’s Reservation Bill, Lokpal Bill and Whistleblowers Bill have not been passed as politicians continue to squabble and waste the time of Parliament.
Security remains a major concern. A substantial part of the country is literally under Maoist control and separatist insurgencies continue to take toll on lives in several states. The latest spell of violence in Assam shows fundamental flaws are yet to be rectified. Terrorist attacks continue across the country even as plan after plan and agency after agency are announced to tackle the menace.
All we ask of the leaders of this country is to show some real commitment to the original purpose for which the people put their faith in them and the institution of democracy.
The writer works for Postnoon.
About the Author (Author Profile)
My interests lie in current affairs, social issues and political analysis. A strong believer of independent thinking and healthy scepticism.