Whose India is this? Can we rescue our nation with a collective effort?

At the very onset let me make it clear that my question is not targeted at a particular political party, community or profession. I am talking to anyone who genuinely identifies himself as an Indian. And I doubt that such people are in minority. This is because most of us have started identifying ourselves on the basis of our religion, ethnicity, language, profession or income group. The last thing that comes to our mind is the entity known as India.

But isn’t that very natural, you would ask. Do all Americans always think of themselves as Americans and not as Whites or as Afro Americans and so on? Or the Chinese for that matter. And still they have set standards of achievement that have led and inspired the world.

Although most of us identify ourselves as true patriots I doubt whether we really understand what patriotism is. But lecturing on patriotism is not the goal here.

What I aim to outline here is that one of the reasons we have not been able to realise the true potential of this wonderful land called India is lack of collective ownership. I believe it this sense of collective ownership that has worked wonders in the ascent of so many civilizations and also of nation states like the US, Japan, Germany, and China.

In fact our achievement of attaining independence also can be ascribed to this sense of collective ownership across the narrow divides. This may be probably because this sense often arises as a response to hugely negative experiences like a foreign onslaught.  In the times of relative security and prosperity the true character of a people is tested. It is here that we don’t match up to the Japanese and the Chinese.

This is not to say that we are grossly disadvantaged as compared to these countries. In fact even as a nation state albeit under the British influence we were  able to build  a system based on the modern principles of democracy and equality and to a great extent have been able to by and large respect most of these principles.

Where we have lacked is that post liberalisation, during the relative boom and relative rise in prosperity, most of the people failed to focus beyond ensuring that they do not miss out on the benefits of the boom. And this failure, if we may call it so, is collective as entrepreneurs, farmers, professionals have all been party to it.  In this rush for being a beneficiary of a socio-economic phenomenon, most of us have remained oblivious to our ownership of our nation.

We are living here as one lives in a rented house i.e with a sense of limited responsibility. Our responsibility begins by paying taxes and ends at criticizing the government.

Criticizing the government has assumed emotive proportions vastly due to advent and rise of the social media. It is justified to an extent but it should not be the only way to express our love for our country.

Let us understand the challenges of the government. Government is an entity created by the constitutional governance system. It derives its power from the compliance of over 1 billion people in the constitution and so it is tremendously powerful. This power gets multiplied in the times of economic prosperity as the government erroneously and often deliberately assumes itself to be main reason and the force behind the phenomenon and also aggressively projects itself to be so.

As an outcome of a wrong assumption of being the main cause behind the boom, the government becomes oblivious to the possibility of the fact that it might be reaping the fruits of a previous government or a number of favourable global factors and also to the certainty of facing the consequences of its own short sighted decisions which are sometimes victims of hubris. What makes matters worse is that the moment government senses trouble, it suddenly goes risk averse and even more myopic as it doesn’t want to be blamed for any future trouble. This leads to an unimaginative and sapped policy formulation. The opposition becomes merely an excuse to justify the suspended policy scenario.

There are two points where I might seem counter-intuitive.

First, I am not including greed as a flaw of governance because it is not the dividing factor between the government and the subjects. In fact both the government and the subjects are equally inflicted with greed of making hay while the boom lasts.

Second, I believe that most of us are not fundamentally evil. Most of us including the government, the opposition and the common man are patriotic enough to have positive intentions about our nation but not enough to take pains to ensure the safeguards.

Let me now to come to the point of collective ownership.

Firstly we need to realise that economic health of the nation is our collective responsibility and thus both the prevention and cure of economic problems lies in our collective hands. In absence of this strong realisation, status quo cannot be challenged. We must understand that collective ignorance has been crucial factor in the downfall of some EU countries like Greece.

Second, there should be massive campaign to increase among the educated class and the business class the understanding of the basics of economics and the significance of GDP. We all must understand that as a nation we as good or as bad as our GDP growth rate.

Third, we must all be driven by a common goal of doing our bit to ensure that the economy grows at decent rate. This includes not only increasing production but also controlling wastage of natural resources. Here it must also be understood that the gains of the economy will be collective gains too which in the short run will be neither equal nor pro rata.

Finally, we must demand the government a socio-legal space for the formation of non political but representative voluntary bodies of acting as economic watchdogs and pressure groups to provide both the possible growth horizons and the warning signs. Of course and there must be enough competent people willing to utilise this space even if it means extra effort on their part. These groups must be allowed make their suggestions and feedback public on their web sites. A separate ministry must be created to ensure these suggestions are passed on to the respective ministries and are responded promptly by either implantation or explanation for the otherwise.

I am keen to know whether my ideas find resonance!

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2 thoughts on “Whose India is this? Can we rescue our nation with a collective effort?

  1. The issue in India is bad bad governance.. We should all stop getting fooled by cliche theories.. People’s attitudes are influenced by what their leaders get away with. The first step would definitely be to have effective accountability for bodies meant to ensure compliance.. You very well covered that in the last part.. I would just like to know your opinion about the construct where we still try to get away by blaming our culture for most of India’s social evils.. Shouldn’t addressing that be the first step towards achieving the goal u seek to achieve here?? The kind of detoxification u propose here is what is rightfully needed by us as a nation.. It is high time we increase the ambit of our responsibility beyond just criticizing the State….The ‘them’ (Indian society) need to bring the State under their control to reclaim dignity. What India needs is a corrective against a narcissist State obsessed with power than its ‘citizens’…

  2. The government is simply the reflection of people. When we say bad governnance , in-efficient governance , we simply say that is what we want in reality.
    “it is we the comon people who elect the government , for ourselves and by ourselves”. So its we who create and help thrive this so-called bad governance in terms of narrow interests . When these narrow interest pile up cmulatively leading to some big crisis—socio , economic, political etc… we blame the system and care-takers of the system. “ The care-takers of the systems are not alien guys or out-siders– they are, just an extension of “we “.
    I would like to elucidate my view-point with few examples:.
    The Vedanta being denied bauxite mining in Odisha. After investing a “meagre 50,000 crore” , the Vedanta were denied mining of bauxite because, “ a few “, close to 200 adivasis stood as a rock not to allow mining. The case was taken up by the Ngo’s –both at the national and internatonal level . The leader of the agitation is not one person but un-political guys, organisations un-heard of –may be they do not have the funds to market themselves to make thjmesleves known to the common people , but are strong enough to prevent,” The Vedanta “ , to let go off their meagree 50,000crore investment and pack their bags. A movie called avatar which went on to gross billions world-wide was inspired by that struggle. The supreme court directed the State Govermnet to review its decision to allow vedanta to mine bauxite in the hills. In this case, the state govt had signed the Mou, with Vedanta and gave it a green signal to mine minerals without the consent of the tribals.
    We do have voluntary non-political bodies as you mentioned in the last para….but again the media do not find them lucrative, to highlight them. The media follows the policy of pick and choose many at times. But again the media is not to be blamed, it delivers what “we the people want” –exciting , something apart from the average , if the media works hard constantly to deliever that , its again because “we” want that. It more so satisfies our needs.
    ——-Nirbhay movement—the comon urban youth poured on streets , brought out Congress –president Soina Gandhi to come out from her house and made her sit on the road at 11pm at night and talk to them. Nobody knows who lead that movement , it was “ we only”. Rather than jumping on the effective results and look at what has not been done , let us praise that at least a beginning has been made . We have effective fast –courts now. Victims now walk up and report cases and the society does not look down upon them for being a victim. Again, this time the media provided what we asked for. We protested and the media gave us what we wanted.
    Economic—again a latest example…SRI—SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIICATION,—-In a village in bihar farmers are growing world record amounts of rice—with no Gm and no herbicide. The high yield is not due to the rich soil but due to the system a methiod of growing crops that’s SRI. This method helped to increase yeils with wheat, potatoes, syugar cane, yams, tomatoes , garlic, aubergine and many other crops . Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz visited the viilage of Bhiar telling villagers that their mehod was better than the scientist and was amazed at their attempt at organic farming. Again a voluntary , non-political its again “we “ who have found a way to our problems. The role of the govt should have been to extend this to drought areas and other areas. What prevents the government?.

    True character is tested in times of security and prosperity and we manifest it. But the more inportant question is why do “we “ vote them to power . May be we reflect our ture self again and again after 5 years as we elect leaders only to crticise them .
    RTI— good governance in modern democracy means , democratization of governance. The Rti act of 2005, passed by the Indian Government gave the common citizen the right to seek information regrading government projects, schemes and other activities
    Like exmaples can be multiplied It was “we” , who voted Indra Gandhi out of power after emergency , and it is we who vote guys form slected families to rule us. We create a political dynasty and we bring and end to it. Its not that attempts are not made , but they are at individual level or are more like popular out-bursts lasting for a short span .
    The word “COLLECTIVE “ and “sustainable” is absent. We need to unite these stray and scattered outbursts , into a cohisive unit , make them sustainable, so that they manifested on a larger platform , in a wholistic manner and in the various facets –soci, economic, political, cultural , techonnological…etc.etc.. .
    I agree with the view-point— of narriow interest –social, economic, political, etc..etc.. social evils again fall in this category of narrow interests. But again at 64 years we are stil experimenting various facets of democracy bringing into cohesion a multi-cultural nation full of diversity. Great Britain and Usa had their experiments with democracy at their nascent stage /stages . Great Britain went thorugh the process of industrialisation , its effects after effects in the 18th century so did Usa at the beginning of 20th century.
    Unity and maturity of ideas wil take time to ingrain to the lowest level in a diverse country like India. The boom- which started in the 1990s and the with its defects has kick—started the process . We learn from mistakes only. Its good “we” , are not only making mistakes but do reflect and rectify them .

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