Friday, October 26, 2007

India Shining?

I was chatting with my friend the other day and the conversation rested on ‘what could derail the ascendance of India’. The rot in the political system emerged as enemy number one, however we kind of let it go by saying how India continues to grow inspite of, and not because of its politicians. A warm glow of happiness, coupled with some really good Single Malt filled the cockles of our heart and everyone was happy.

The next day as I sat on a rather longish car drive, I spent some more time thinking about this. Its true that India evokes a lot of interest around the world today. But the current interest arises from the fact that it gives a great return on investment. Period. Nothing, other than the economic story, is part of the new attractiveness of India.

The question is therefore, is the economic story enough or even sustainable, to play a lead role on the global stage? I think not. Our economic story will not last forever, and the day there is a better place to park the dollars, India will not be the toast of the world. We can avoid the early end to the party by not only wealth creation for the world, but also leading by action in matters related to development.

India today is experiencing material growth of a magnitude that it has not seen since independence. What we as a nation seem to forget is that development is a very different story and at present, a long way off.

Also, economic growth does not automatically lead to development. A country, among other things, needs good governance to move from growth to development. But a hard look at the countries leaders makes you wonder where good governance will come from.

Yesterday the Gujarat Tehelka story broke and the worst fears about the Gujarat riots have come true. Its one thing to suspect that the whole thing was a government sponsored genocide. It’s quite another to actually hear the accused give gory details of how they did it.

I don’t know what makes me more sick. The un-abashedness with which the accused talk of the murders they committed, the pride with which they talk of killing pregnant women to send a message to ‘them’, the helplessness you feel as you sit and watch murderers talk of their ‘seva’ to Hinduism, or the shame that you feel when you realize that these are elected representatives of the nation.

All the noise about India becoming a global power in the 21st century sounds untrue, pretentious and irritating. The only feelings I have is the 1980s sense of “is desh ka kuch nahin ho sakta”.

Who does one turn to for justice? Everybody is tainted. Uma Bharti comes on to TV and says that the law must take independent action against all those accused, but warns the Congress Party not to give any comment or enter into the matter as they are guilty of same: mass killings of Sikhs in the aftermath of Mrs Gandhi’s assassination. Laloo, himself embroiled in several corruption case, demands the arrest of Modi. Who does the common man turn to? No one has the moral right to take on anybody. All political parties seem busy leaning desperately against the proverbial cupboard trying to keep the ugly skeletons from tumbling out.

There is not a single political leader today who has the vision and the authority to lead development. Getting your economic policies right to get growth is relatively easy. You need a smart economist to do that. To make a leap from a third world country to a developed nation needs leaders. India today cannot boast of any, let alone many. We have a huge bank of politicians, but no political leader.

The Gujarat mess is a very rude reminder of how all this euphoria about India can end prematurely. We, the people, have a responsibility of taking the country forward. Not only by working hard in our respective offices but also participating actively in deciding the nation’s leadership.

Its quite obvious that all of us cannot join politics. Some of us are not interested; many of us do not know how to run a country. But we can play a part in electing responsible governments, of letting ‘neta ji’ know that he cannot get away with nonsense, and definitely raising our voice in unison against mass murderers like Babu Bajrangi and punishing him for the atrocities committed.

We lose our voice and anger today; we will lose our promising future along with it.


Y said...

Whoooaaa...this is a side of you I've only seen after a long, cold beer.


svety said...

hey u're back..gr8