Saturday, March 14, 2015

Of India, and changing India

All of us, once at least would have asked this question: “What will happen to this country!” (“kya hoga iss desh ka!”)…
I have asked this question several times to myself and now I helplessly admit that I have concluded that “iss desh ka kuch nahin ho sakta!”. India is going to remain India. By this I mean the attitude of the people and not the other dynamics – like usage of mobile phone for example. Recently I traveled in a train a few times after some years. I observed the train is exactly the same as it was decades ago, every single compartment was the same, the toilets were dirty, the bedsheets were not as good and just about anything that you could have observed about a train during your travel over the past few decades! I have travelled across many different sections of the country from North to South and from East to West. (What I found is the platforms in Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh were the neatest of all. The platforms of Uttar Pradesh were the worst of all. All other zones come in between somewhere.) I have travelled in general compartments, sleeper class, 3rd AC, and 2nd AC – in that order from childhood to adulthood as my changing ability to spend changed. The situation of each compartment and services remains exactly the same – by and large.
Now I want to know if India is changing, train resembles India, why has it not changed at all since decades?
Also, the movies – there was ‘Zanjeer’ about an honest ‘dabangg’ police officer in 1973, and then there is Singham on the same lines in 2011. 40 years and the same theme??? Does that mean the corruption situation is still the same?
Of course, things would have gotten only worse, surely owing to the increased population of ours and some changing environmental parameters. Then, are we actually changing?
Why are there NGOs for women empowerment perpetually existing? Are they not able to empower women or are there enough women to empower at any given time? In that case again, things have not changed for women at large right?
I may be termed as a pessimist but being an optimist here is very unrealistic to me. My most logical sense is, change happens – but at an individual level, at a small group level may it be a small community or a village (In case of railways too, there might be pockets like South Central railways for example that might have changed but to generalize, it is the same still!). For change to happen at an individual level it takes a few years, for change to happen at a family level it takes a decade or so, for change to happen at a community level it takes a few decades but for change to happen at a national level, it would take several decades but there are too many barricades in between that stop from the change to happen. For that mass change to happen, everybody needs to feel that change is needed for him or her, and there needs an individual or a group to make each and every individual feel the need first of all – that I feel is a close to impossible task! A lot of people don’t feel the need to have sanitation. When you go to some places like Uttar Pradesh, there is hell lot of dirt all around. Won’t people feel the need to not make the place dirty first of all, or clean it up once filthy? How many individuals can run the swach bharat abhiyan? can a small group go and clean the place all the time? That group needs to be dedicated for that task alone in that case, which is not possible. Even in a household, if just one person takes the responsibility to clean things up and every other family member keeps making the house dirty, how would that situation be? We are changing in terms of adapting to the new revolution like mobile phones or internet. But our basic attitude remains the same at large, it has not changed at all! We change in small groups and move to a strata that has changed or is changing, and feel that India is changing. It is a myth :) India will remain India unless the attitude of each and every one of the 1.2Bn people changes, possible?
I was a part of Jagriti Yatra 2014 where I met someone from Kenya. I asked him what is the one word that comes to you when you see India, knowing that he was visiting India for the first time. He said ‘dirty’, ‘chaotic’ and a few other related adjectives, I appreciate his honesty. It doesn’t feel particularly good when a visitor feels like that in your country :) But I have to accept the reality, though it is a harsh one. He mentioned India is not a country where people should be left on their own, they need a dictator kind of a ruler who will give them a task and just get them to do it, no matter what. Only then India will improve. He gave the example of Rwanda, I was curious and asked him how many years did it take Rwanda to transform? He said 30 years for such a small country.
Imagine about India transforming then!

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