Mera Desh

Lately i have been thinking more about why some countries forge ahead economically and socially while others are left behind. Obviously there is the factor of time and the starting point, so to speak. You cant really compare America and India can you? Or India and Bangladesh for that matter. In the post-colonial world, each newly freed country was left with a separate set of resources, usable and not.

Some countries’ local industries were developed while under the British rule and thus were already years ahead of the ones which had suffered from complete industrial rape. I think India is one of the lesser fortunate ones. We have come a long way since ’47 and our industries have gained enough momentum to work towards international competence (some of them at least). We may have one of the biggest telephone networks in the world now thanks to the Ambanis and our I.T. industry and the service industries may be benefitting from the second highest english speaking population in the world, the basic sectors of this country are yet to be of international standards. Education, electricity and infrastructure ( I dont know if this is the right term for what i am talking about – roads etc) are the sectors which are still suffering and need a proper rehaul. Energy Information Administration (USA) – This site claims that India’s production will not be able to catch up to the consumption levels India has. I know I am jumping the gun here, but this is not even what I want to talk about.

That was kind of a primer – what we started out with and all of us know where we are today. What I want to say is that how come majority of the Indians who belong to the middle class and up dont realise the value of giving back to the country ? How is it that people are still buying three cars for a family of two ? Why is it that littering on the road is still accepted ? How come teens rather own clothes for every occassion imaginable and not give back to the community in any form ?

Are the words ‘Hum Hindustani’ and ‘Proud to be an Indian’ just a fad which we echo everytime a bollywood star is paid insane amounts of money to dance to on national television ? I can have conversations with my friends about corruption in the Bush administration and the Middle East, which would last for hours. But what about doing something it ? I am not claiming to be a social activist of any order, what I wonder is have we lost the nationalist feeling that our grandparents used to be proud of ?

Over the past 2 years or so I have come to know a number of families based in Canada and America who left India in the 60s and 70s. They do way more to better India’s future and improve the situation here than most of the resident Indian families I know. How did this come about? Do all of us take everything we see here for granted? Think about it, the current generation (mine) will never see Kashmir and its kalis nor can we hope to breathe fresh air in Bombay downtown in the near future. What the hell man? I dont really know how to solve any of these problems, I am only 20 and still thinking, so give me a break. But what I do know is that it wont happen overnight and it will not be cause the Lords wished so.

We have to make it happen. We have to give back and we have to see it grow. Almost all of you indians who are reading this are fortunate enough to spare the time and money to be online to actually read a blog. When was the last time you did anything, absolutely anything to better this country’s fate ? I cant remember anything besides what was forced upon us in school, that too for 1 hour a week. We all have cell phones and some of us change them like we change underwear (ok not so frequently, but you get what i mean), why is there no general feeling to spend 1/10 of your vacation time in the village helping even 1 kid read A,B,C or do some social work. Maybe i am stuck in some parallel dimension of worthlessness and the rest of you are doing your bit. That would suck, cause I want out!

I wish we had been taught in school more about our country’s plight than our glorious past. I dont mean to demean the value of history or anything like that, but we still need to be shown the clear picture. We should have had assignments in school which made us individually seek something socially responsible to do and show results over a period of one school year. Parents should be made to feel responsible as well, its them who instill the values in the children. Let’s not hold anybody responsible wholly, cause that’s finger pointing and we aren’t the government are we?

I would love to spend my summer here and implementing cheap wified computer groups in villages and districts. Shit, I can even think of a small solution in my head right now – buy those hindi voice activated pdas developed by IIT, contract Banyan Networks to build cheap scalable wifi routers, start a small charity where you come and throw in your old ‘unusable’ b/w computers from years ago, revamp these systems with whatever money is possible and setup a linux computing grid for districts with strategic information being broadcasted 24/7 to the pdas for the people to benefit from for a number of purposes. They could keep track of the weather pattern for more efficient farming, avail of the latest prices to not be made a fool of by the local ‘seth’, the kids could be part of a local VPN and get into group learning sessions, lesser educated kids could take time learning A,b, c and k, kh , gh with more interesting lessons (e-learning implemented locally) and a little bit of entertainment wouldnt hurt. Medical services could be bettered as well, in case theres only 1 doctor for 2 towns, while he is on his way to an emergency for one town, any educated person in that town could look up what to do or be told what to do by the doctor till he arrives.

Wow, got excited there. I think that’s so doable. There are people out there who are striving to get such projects off the ground and genuinely care for this country. Some get caught up in the red-tapism of this country’s government while some just die sad and poor deaths. I think its high time that the youth of this country start taking matters in their own hands. Donate money, work up projects, spend time in the villages and the towns to see the real problems. I think I was fortunate cause I did get to do something like that on our visits to my hometown, but otherwise even my exposure to rural India is limited.

I am pretty proud of this – I can name at least 5 people who went abroad with me for university education who want to come back and do something of their own in their motherland. That’s what we need. Minimize brain drain. Look at Singapore. Scholarships by the Singapore government and some singaporean companies require you to sign a 2-4 year contract with them stating that you will work in their country after your graduation. Can the Indian government not spend a few hundred crores less on the minister’s secretary’s secretary’s assistant’s nephew’s cars and increase such scholarships? Promote education and ensure that it benefits the country directly as well. We all need to get involved, get in there, think hard and fast. Cause time is running out, today we are ahead of a few and behind many. Let’s lead by example and let’s do something for our country, apna bharat.

That’s a dream and this is all talk. and cheap.