In the last couple of years I could sense a lot of pessimism in the public perception regarding the state of India mostly fuelled by continuous media coverage on the frequently unearthed ‘scams’ / ‘misconduct of powerful’ and the widely aired belief of the paralysis of the Central government. A few days back a dejected colleague wondered ‘Will India come out of this pit?’
Frankly speaking, while I partially relate to the somber mood prevailing in the nation I do not concur completely with the pessimism persisting in the country. I would like to explain my stand:
Let us start with the economy first. In the morning I was reading certain articles related to the economic crisis in Europe and things are seemingly much worse there. While a modest growth rate of 5.7% should certainly draw some creases on our forehead, I do not find the need of mourning on it. We have not performed to our potential and should work hard and smart to rectify it – the message, I think, should be as simple as that. Unfortunately our leaders (both in the government and those in the opposition), media, social activists, industry tycoons and anyone of some reputation have failed to pass on this simple message and stop the panic at least on the economic front.
The last few years have seen common man fighting a tough battle with the inflation. This I think has been the primary reason of the all-round pessimism and discomfort of the common masses. Each time I visit the weekly market in the neighbourhood, I feel flabbergasted by the spiraling cost of food items and that of basic necessities – A Rs. 20/ Kg potato would have been hard to imagine a few years back. Inflation sits high on the factors hampering our growth potential and needs to be countered effectively. However, regulatory bodies and government seems to waging this battle with the wrong weapons. Once right arsenal is selected inflation could be tamed to a comforting level – this would take time but I think the pain of inflation would subside.
Another factor affecting the psyche of common man is the regular expose of scams and misconduct by influential. This has created a perception of a tyrannical regime which is either dysfunctional or inefficient to take corrective steps and hell-bent on cracking any voice of dissent. Now the current government has been rather ineffective but I would not be going a step further to accept it as tyrannical – take a world map and mark the countries where a ‘Yoga-guru’ (of whatever might) subtly threatens the government (however defunct) of disrupting the Independence Day celebrations and escapes without any government retaliation or public outrage and you will get the answer. In dark times, everything appears dark but it is our good fortune that Independent India, barring minor exceptions, has never been run by despotic regimes.
I have tried to briefly put forth my arguments on why I believe the current situation should not drive us to pessimism. The situation is not rosy and I accept that we have fallen from our path but there is hope that things would improve. While I am cautiously optimistic about the recovery of our economy, our battle against inflation and the issue of governance, I am worried about a ‘fall’ which could have a far greater bearing on our lives than the factors mentioned above.
I have always believed that India is witnessing a silent revolution – a revolution which would slowly eat the ills plaguing our country. However, the process has been excruciatingly slow which is rather disappointing even for me. I understand that some of the complex societal changes would take time but the derailment of the process from time to time disturbs me. So, I feel pain when a perfectly logical and well educated guy embraces the ills of casteism; I feel hurt when a ‘wannabe’ reformer / social activist propagates hatred towards different groups; I feel disappointed when a ‘boy’ child still remains the wish of would be parents. The idea of a truly ‘Great India’ appears to be at a distance with these dampeners playing their part. While such derailments slow us down what actually frightens me is the increased attacks of ‘Intolerance’ and ‘Indifference’ on our social fabric and the resultant ‘fall’ which we could take as a society. As expressed in a previous article, I believe countering these are the foremost challenge we have as a society.
The fall has already begun – our first wall of resistance has been breached. Intolerance has dealt a big blow on our social fabric – the recent exodus of North East Indians from major Indian cities is a very relevant example. We should hang our heads in shame for we could not assure the safety of fellow Indians who flee in their own country due to perceived threat on their lives. This is not the first instance though – earlier Biharis were driven from Mumbai, Karnataka & Assam as well. It is quite easy to pass the blame on the government/ administration but in reality it is the failure of us as a society. The fact is that Intolerance is slowly creeping in us. It has reached to that silly level where a Salman Khan fan would slam Shah Rukh Khan and vice versa – Being a fan would mean ‘not watching’ / slamming movies of competitor actors. It has also reached a point where genuine inquisitions / suggestions are abhorred by a team claiming to fight for restoring the spirit of democracy. We have taken a hit: The concept of co-existence which is central to the idea of India is now increasingly tested by the ‘You are either with me or with the enemy’ kind of rhetoric.
Indifference is also testing its water in India – Lack of probity in public life (central to the recent outburst against corruption) stems out from this very attitude. There are signs of eroding compassion in the society which is a scary thought to start with. Chetan Bhagat says in his latest book (I am still to read it) that Indian Youth is guided by Greed – Greed in itself is not bad but it has to be within a limit. This unchecked greed or ‘self-centeredness’ is somehow making us indifferent or is it the other way round? Whatever be the case, an indifferent society is not good news in any part of the world including India.
So, which direction India will take from now on? If you ask me, I am quite hopeful that we would be able to overcome the recent assaults on the idea of India. Why? Because we are a resilient nation and despite odds I believe that sense will prevail and we would work hard for the betterment of our country. Because, agreed we have taken a fall, I believe we fall for a reason. As explained brilliantly to Bruce Wayne by his father and later by Alfred in ‘Batman Begins’ – We fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up. This is brilliant opportunity to work towards building a better society and a better tomorrow. Also because I know a lot many people who are doing their bit for the society and are aspiring to contribute more in days to come. This alone is the biggest assurance that makes me think we will see through these dark days and emerge stronger.
The time has come to ‘pick ourselves up’ – and that would begin by defeating the current ‘hate propaganda’ against our fellow Indians.