What India lacks ?Why do people in the land of beauty and brains ... have less hope and more despair
The seventh largest country in the world, second largest in Asia, vast geography, diverse topography with an area of 3.3 million square kilometers -rich in mineral resource, huge untapped hydroelectric power potential of 150,000 MW. Undoubtedly India has the best brains, world renowned inventors, scientists and intellectuals...an ideal combination of technology and entrepreneurship. With the largest area of arable land, India is one of the world's largest producers of food grains- over 200 million tonnes annually, world's largest producer of milk, sugarcane or tea and the second largest producer of rice, fruit and vegetables. Good enough reasons for neighbors envy, owners pride.
Some 250 million Indians still go to bed hungry every night though there is no shortage of smart phones.Smartphones are readily available more than food. A paradox is that people have mobile phones but no toilets. Half the Indians still do not have toilets, almost 50% women and children are undernourishment, anemic. Over 300 million Indians have no access to electricity, some 87 million Indians no access to telephones. . It is a country with great knowledge but greater hunger. As Amartya Sen says India is a model of defective development but why ?
Nehruvian dream 67 years ago is still an unfinished reality. India is still chasing the mirage of progress and development. What is the meaning of this development when the fruits of progress can’t give a better quality of life – if not prosperity to the people for whom it was meant? Sociologists and economists need to ponder– is India moving in the right direction? Like a jogger on the treadmill India has run really fast but what has it achieved? There is some progress in almost every sphere but is this right speed? Should we clap for India’s achievement or ponder over the missed goals and opportunities?
First stop having pity, – we were not the only country in the world being ruled by another for whatever length of time. At the start of 19th century just 20 percent nations of the world were independent. At the time of independence in 1947 – India was nursing the wounds of partition, but Japan, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and many other small countries were no better. As a result of Japanese invasion during the World War, Thailand was under Japanese occupation. From 1941 till Japanese defeat in 1945 the Japanese troops was using Thailand as a passage to invade British-held Malaya and Burma. Similarly Singapore and Malaysia which was under indirect rule of the British since the 1870s were attacked by the Japanese forces on December 10, 1941, and by February 15, 1942, the Japanese were occupying the Malay Peninsula and Singapore. There was ethnic tension between the Malays and Chinese who were treated harshly for supporting China’s war of resistance against the Japanese in the 1930s, till the British resumed control in 1945. Malaysia’s first political party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO), was only formed in March 1946 and after a long struggle Malaya became an independent country on August 31, 1957. Singapore became independent on August 6, 1965.
Precisely around 1947 Japan was in a real bad shape. The country was barely managing to recover from the huge losses suffered during World War II and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The economy was in a shamble. World War II had left over 40 million dead in Europe. The casualties included 5.3 million German soldiers, millions of civilians. Besides territorial losses; Germans were bearing the brunt of the defeat. The people had no hope left.
Another time travel in the 30s and 40s reveals that Saudi Arabia became independent of Sept. 23, 1932, Iraq (Oct 3, 1932), Lebanon (Nov 22, 1943), North Korea Aug 15, 1945, South Korea Aug 15, 1945, Indonesia August 17, 1945, Vietnam Sept. 2, 1945, Syria Apr 17, 1946, Jordan May 25, 1946, Pakistan August 14, 1947, India August 15, 1947, Burma Jan 4, 1948, Sri Lanka February 4, 1948, Israel May 14, 1948, Laos July 19, 1949, Bhutan August 8, 1949, Libya Dec 24, 1951, Cambodia Nov 9, 1953, Sudan Jan 1, 1956, Morocco Mar 2, 1956, Tunisia Mar 20, 1956, Ghana Mar 6, 1957
This simply means that we Indians were no worse than scores of others at the starting point in the 1940s. But even after almost six decades its time we asked where are we, what have we achieved in all these years. Are we anywhere near Japan, Germany, Singapore or Malaysia – which are emerging as powerful global economies.
Economies that prosper believe in ‘doing things’ instead of talking. Great nations have governments and people – who try to excel in whatever they do and don’t give excuses or accepted them. More than vision—a killer instinct to achieve and action to translate dreams into realities is the dose for good health. Both Germany and Japan – were isolated, shattered and ruined -- socially and economically. But the way they have caught up and overtaken others in every sphere –technology, manufacturing, productivity and quality--is remarkable. They have made it, When will we?
Moral of the story: Good intentions, unless translated into action - do not lead anywhere.