Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Value of Money vs People in emerging India

The advent of high-tech high-speed life has impacted societies all over the globe in a big way. The societal impact on has been diverse and enormous. On the positive side, Indian techies are emerging more competitive and grabbing higher salary jobs than any other in the world market. Yes, Indians have created a niche of honour for themselves in diverse fields like IT, medicine, environment, astrophysics et al. On the domestic scene, our economy too has managed to remain on a steady growth path despite a roller coaster journey through scams, red tape and corruption. We are now a society that is fast adapting to international norms of social, professional and commercial behaviour. With mobile wielding rickshaw pullers, roadside hawkers and their non-haggling cash ready customers milling around, chain snatching bikers too have melded themselves as a category in the milieu. Minor hang ups notwithstanding, there is plenty for everyone to enjoy life – air conditioned homes, work places, malls, cars, bars, clubs…. What’s not there, man?

On the negative side, in our exuberance to compete and hurry to win we seem to have forgotten to carry with us some valuable paraphernalia we will need to sustain our achievements on reaching the destination – our value system based on a culture of ethics and morals. We have missed out on the correct valuation of cooperation over competition, quality over quantity, standard of ‘life’ over standard of ‘living’ and the innate urge to give rather than grab. The national scene today is a veritable mix of oddities and contradictions. In affluence, we have our cities that will challenge the world’s best. In poverty too, we have regions in hinterland that could make countries like Somalia, Burundi and Zimbabwe look affluent in our comparison. We have business empires and tycoons whose wealth and life style will disconcert the best known kings and emperors. Yet our ordnance factories are so primitive and dysfunctional that we depend on others to arm and equip our military.– world’s second largest military might. Israel, a country that came into existence in world’s most desolate land after India gained her independence, also manufactures and supplies sophisticated military equipment to us! We have world’s most educated and ‘honest’ man heading the government; yet, no previous government has been more maligned than Manmohan Singh’s with no signs yet of the inundation of scams abating. We have lavish civic services infra-structure like primary health care centres, dispensaries, roads, electricity, TV and tele-communication network – even water supply network in some remote areas but thanks to the callous administration, these amenities lie in utter neglect, glut enormous government grants and have failed in delivering.

Despite easier access to modern amenities the rural India has been left far behind the high speed urban advancement. The divide between the rural and urban has only widened. Even poverty has its own status and class that clearly sets apart its urban poor from the rural rustics. Whereas the exploited destitute of city slums assumes an urbane swagger at the sight of a displaced tribal from Orissa, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh or a debt laden farmer from the barren lands of Vidarbha, the latter – the feeder of the nation – presents a pathetic picture of a humbled warrior in dire need of justice and fair play rather than a share in the loot.

It is these contradictions that are threatening to slow down India’s march to a glorious future in the new world emerging from the Recession in the west and anti-autocracy turmoil in North Africa and West Asia. Our younger generation is already providing high tech solutions to complex problems of organisations and governments all over the world. Our reservoir of skilled and semi-skilled workforce too is larger than China’s. A new class of entrepreneurs is also well poised to venture out taking global leads. What is holding them up? The answer is: the environment creators at home! Who are the environment creators? They are a vicious circle of people whose insider trading techniques keeps them camouflaged from the public view.

A former minister simultaneously agreed and disagreed with my argument recently and sought to explain away this vicious environment of corruption and callous governance. “Forget about the theories you read in political science books about democracy and governance. Agreed, it is the people who matter in democracy but which people?”

“The people – the citizens of the country, of course! Who else?” I stressed hard.

“No, it is not that simple. The people who count here come in four categories:

I – The top academic brains who compete and win the most coveted careers through IITs, IIMs and other top grade institutions. It is the guys in this category who get fattest salary packages.

II – The next best join Civil Services at Centre and State levels. They control everything including the first category through a maze of regulatory mechanism.

III – Those who fail to qualify for the above two categories, take to politics and form the third category, the Third Reich of Indian Politicians! In the name of democracy, they control both the top categories.

IV – The school drop-outs and others who fare poorly academically, join the underworld of crime, handle black money and control the other three categories!”
Little wonder that the last category is now joining active politics and coming to assume direct control as ‘elected representatives’ of people to Parliament and State Legislatures.

The emerging amalgam of crime, corruption and politics is a more potent threat to India’s security than any external threat – even nuclear. As the crime graph continues to rise rather steeply, crimes such as rape, murder, high-way robberies are becoming only more audacious and daring in metro-cities and towns. The audacity of the crimes done and failure of police to effectively act only shows what patronage and impunity the criminals enjoy. The politico-bureaucratic combine are now busy drafting innovative bills that could silence the public outcry against raging corruption in higher government echelons and also protect the high and mighty of corruption.

Hopefully, India would be inducted as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in the near future. A plethora of opportunities lies ahead for India to assume bigger roles at regional and world levels. There is enough talent too. The government machinery has, however, gone rusty and needs urgent overhauling and oiling. It is not that those in authority are unaware of what is required to be done. They have become accustomed to move only when pushed by public pressure. Corruption is the breeding ground for all crime and terrorism since such pursuits need black money. However, corruption has seeped so deep in our political system that no political party today is keen to institutionalise any effective mechanism to curb and punish corruption at political and bureaucratic levels.

People power alone can coerce them into positive action. The public anguish over rampant corruption and government apathy is fully justified. This simmering energy needs to be carefully harnessed and guided to bring in accountability and good governance. Anna Hazare’s Movement against corruption has been so far fair, straight and transparent. More organisations need to lend a helping hand and all the people must rise for a peaceful but sustained campaign. No doubt there are a number of reforms pending but let corruption be the first enemy to be vanquished.

No comments:

Post a Comment