India of My Dreams
by Palak Mathur
William Dement said, “Dreaming permits each and everyone of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.” He says that sometimes this insanity can be fruitful and sometimes very infectious and sometimes very delectable and delicious. It is in many ways necessary for a country like India to be insane and dream as it is a bigger crime not to dream than to dare to dream.
India of my dreams is a topic, which is as wide and deep as universe and to write about this subject is like “romancing” with India. There is so much to dream about India; so much to cherish, so much to cheer, so much to hate and so much to desire about it. The issue is what should be penned and what should be omitted. This is a very emotional topic, too close to my heart.
India is an ancient country but a young nation and we, Indians are united and are proud of our rich culture and rich heritage, proud of secular democracy, proud of its vastness, its diversity and proud of its rivers, mountains, plains, plateaus and deserts. So, here I am dreaming about India, my motherland that has given me so much that I will forever remain in her debt.
As I dream, I see myself travelling on road. I don’t know where I am or where I am heading to. There is a road and on both sides are farm fields with yellow flowers of ‘sarson’. “Oh my god! How majestic!! How beautiful!! I love my India,” I repeat this phrase several times.
Feeling proud, I move ahead heading towards infinity. I am travelling through a picturesque landscape and amazing scenery. I can see mountains all around and from the road to the foothills, there are crops indicating the prosperity and happiness all over.
I finally reach a village on the foothills of the mountains. I am on foot now, travelling through the village, passing through the narrow lanes. I am thirsty as it is too hot as there is a sudden change in weather. I ask a young little boy for some water. He goes inside the house and brings a glass-full of water and also offers me some groundnuts. I am about to drink water. But wait! I can’t drink this water, it is so dirty! I am dead thirst and feeling like hell. The boy went in and brought another glass and a cloth. He filters the water using the cloth and offers me the water again. I drink the water but I feel bad and sick that how these people manage to drink this water.
After resting for few minutes, I start talking to that boy. I ask what he is doing at this point of time when he should be at school. He tells me that there is no school in the village and whoever wants to study has to travel to a nearby village, which is few mile from here.
I enquire further about electricity, hospital, etc. But get a negative response for all.
I am out of my dream now. I wonder how beautifully it had begun and till I reached the end, I saw the reality and the issues that we Indian face. When I ponder about my dreams, I realize that there is, of course, much in India of yesterday and today which gives rise to despair and despondency among many, for who would deny the existence of mass poverty, gross inequality, rampant illiteracy, social injustice, gender discrimination, social oppression, corruption, casteism and communalism and poor quality of life in general. But these and many other weaknesses should not cloud our vision. As Bipan Chandra, a great historian has said,
There is not enough reason for us to allow ourselves to be stifled in a pall of gloom, to be drowned in a sea of depression.
So, let us dream and dream as much as we can, because if we will not dream what we will achieve.
Mahatma Gandhi, on board SS Rajput on his way to Round Table Conference, said,
I would work for an India, in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country…; an India in which there shall be no high class and no low class of people; an India where all communities will live in a perfect harmony….Women will enjoy the same rights as men. We shall be at peace with all the rest of the world.”
Like Gandhiji, I also dream of India where there will be no inequality, poverty, social injustice, illiteracy, gender discrimination, social oppression, corruption, casteism and communalism and people will have an improved and good quality of life. We need to brainstorm on our weaknesses and think ways to eradicate these areas of darkness in the glowing splendour of our country.
National Unity or Integrity of India
This is the area where we have achieved a success and that too a major one. We are able to strengthen India as a nation by strengthening the Indian unity politically, economically and emotionally and pushing forward the process of nation-in-the-making.
However, we still suffer from the social diseases of casteism, communalism and regionalism. We need to work proactively to eliminate these evils of our society. Regionalism is a serious threat that has recently taken an ugly shape. People resort to regionalism citing the difference of their cultures from others. They demand for separate states or ouster of so-called outsiders from their respective states. For e.g. recent demand for a separate state of Telangana and Maharashtra Nav-nirman Sena’s (MNS) anti-North Indian stand. What is required is to curb these powers. I am not opposed to creation of the state of Telangana. But how and for what reasons is important. Just creating a new state for reasons of language and culture doesn’t sound a good reason. In India, even in Hindi-speaking belt, diction or “boli” changes every 10-20kms. So, language should not be the only criterion for the State creation. Rather special considerations should be given to economical and administrative viability. As far as MNS-type political parties are concerned, they should be banned and effective actions should be taken against them and their leaders. I want India to be from regionalism. Similarly, casteism and communalism should be removed. A great step forward will be passage and enactment of Uniform Civil Code. I agree that indigenous cultures and traditions and popular religions plat an important role in the life of the people, but I also believe that these should be matters of private concern of an individual and government or the state should aloof itself from it. When I say aloofness from religion, I refer to the religion as dogma, bigotry and vehicle of communalism as state cannot completely aloof from the religion as the people running it will be from the popular religions only. So, the people should treat religion as philosophy, spiritual experience, guide to morality and psychological solace.
It is necessary that all the anti-Nation thoughts and undercurrents should be curbed and the process of India Shining is not eclipsed because if it happens then “Bharat Mein Vishwaas” campaign of Government of India (GoI) will fail. I dream that India will shine and these evils will get eliminated.
In over sixty years, India has failed to eradicate poverty despite consistent economic growth. In the early sixties, Planning Commission came up with a concept of Poverty Line. Below this line were people whose consumption of food-grains did not come up to a minimum level in terms of calories. The GoI has been running a Public Distribution System (PDS) for these people who are called BPL people. The system assures the availability of food-grains, at a subsidized rate, determined by the Government. But the corruption in PDS is so prevalent that it has become a lame horse.
In the Economic Survey 2010 (ES), GoI, especially Finance Ministry under Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has suggested a new scheme of subsidy and a change in the PDS approach of delivery. As per the new scheme, government would not provide food-grains to PDS-vendors at a subsidized rate. They will be supplied a quota of food-grains at market price. Suppose government wants to give a subsidy of Rs. X, then it will distribute coupons of amount Rs. X to the BPL people. They will have to buy the food-grains at market price but they will have an option to use subsidy in form of coupons and hence can pay Rs X in coupons and rest in cash.
I am simply amazed with this new scheme and want this scheme to get implemented as early as possible. This will definitely prove more effective than the current PDS. For the effectiveness of this new scheme, it would be required that UIDAI project is successfully completed as it will help in identification of real BPL people and would help in better targeting too.
These two projects if get implemented will change equations very much in favour of the masses and I dream of their success.
Quality of Life
Apart from poverty, the quality of life of masses in India is another major area of neglect as their physical and social needs have not been met even at minimally desired level. Whatever progress has been made in this respect has been tardy and inadequate.
As per the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report (HDR) 2009, the Human Development Index (HDI) for India in 2007 was 0.612 and India ranked 134 out of 182 countries. In terms of Gender Development Index (GDI), India ranks 114 out of 155 countries. Both these indices indicate that India has to do a lot in the area of human development and continued efforts are called for in the area of gender development.
We lack in literacy. Illiteracy is rampant. The government in 1988 has set a target of achieving 75% literacy by 2007. But we were able to attain only 65% literacy (as per Census of India 2001) or 61% literacy (as per Plan Australia). 65% is a significant change in literacy rate that have been achieved considering the ground situation and realities of our country. However, still we have missed the targets. The government has set target as 80% literacy by 2012 and 100% literacy by 2015. I dream and pray to God to please help us to achieve this target. By 2015, India will have a favourable number of work-able people and if we could tap this potential and use our numbers effectively then it may be advantageous in the growth in social, economic and political spheres and this will certainly make India a better place.
Health is a major area of concern too. India needs improvement in terms of sanitation, potable drinking water and proper healthcare facilities at village-level. I dream with the Panchayati Raj Institutions gaining experience, these factors will be taken care of.
Electric Supply should be the major thrust area to improve as it will positively impact the quality of life of masses as most modern goods that make life easier and entertainment readily available need electricity like TV, washing machines, radio, refrigerator, etc. Though most of the urban households have acquired electric connections, there remains shortage in electricity generation which forces them to remain aloof from the joys of an electric connection. Consumption of Power is directly proportional to the Quality of Life and I often dream of a time when we would be able to generate so much energy that, like in USA, in India, we will face no power-cuts.
One of the most important factors that cal lead to radical change in the standard and quality of life is availability of employment opportunities. Though with the advent of I.T., jobs have increased but these are concentrated in few cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, etc. while other cities either have no employment opportunities or the demand is very low. Also, it is an irony that a Mechanical or Electrical engineering student has to work in the field of IT because opportunities are very few in the core sectors.
I dream of India where there will be jobs available in each city and people will not have to migrate to other cities. This will also reduce the burden on the resources of the cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc. I too had to come to Pune from Agra as there were no opportunities available in latter. I am not the only one and there is great drainage of young people from Agra. The effect of this drain is that the demographic equation of the city has changed with average age of city population on rise. I dream that this will be stopped and every individual have an option available in his own cities.
We, the Indians, in my opinion are the most undisciplined lot. I don’t understand why we can’t follow rules and regulations. I dream of India where people will follow rules and regulations properly and with due respect to the law of the land. While driving we always tend to break laws. There is a Facebook Fan Page of Delhi Traffic Police where you can see thousands of photographs daily uploaded of people who are in violation of laws. Driving without helmet, driving on wrong lane are the norms.
I dream of India where people will be more disciplined and will care for others.
No doubt we still have ‘promises to keep and miles to go…’ We still face the challenges of poverty, diseases, illiteracy, inequality, social backwardness and gender and caste discrimination and oppression. But there is no ground for pessimism or resignation, for frustration or lack of pride. India has impressive achievements to its credit in the economic and political arena. The major reason for our optimism lies in our belief that a vibrant democracy like India can find the solutions for these problems. I hope that India will achieve what it deserves and what it deserves will depend on the dreams of people of India, as millions of people who somehow eke out a living also dream differently and for different things. We need to take care of everyone who is an Indian and frame our policies for the uplifting and welfare of the people of India. We have achieved a lot and we are dreaming to achieve more. I dream of a shining India, a vibrant democracy and a secular nation taking centre-stage in the comity of nations.