Friday, November 11, 2005

Development: the Indian conundrum

Remember that special issue of our lab journal that I kept talking about a couple of months back, the one that gave me many a sleepless night? Below is an editorial I wrote for that issue. A taste of my "real" journo writing!

Enough has been said and written about it. Revamp the political system, throw out the bureaucracy, chase out the MNCs, subsidize agriculture and India will shine, they say. We have tried, with promises and resolves, one day each year. Then, it is the same story again, feeding the bureaucrats, drawing obscene salaries from MNCs, killing farmers...until time comes a full circle once more.

The parameters of social and economic development have become cliched today. Following up on such resolves, even hypothetically, has become out of the question. India is too vast, too diverse and too independent for that. The next obvious question would be 'what then could make the nation developed in the real sense?'

India is already a power to reckon with in global terms. Surge in forex reserves, a possible UNSC permanent seat, albeit without veto, improving relations with the neighbours...aren't these developments real, however contrary to the traditional theories they may be? Again, who determines development? The term could never mean the total abolition of poverty, unemployment and the like. If that were the case, America with its teeming populace of destitutes and rate of crime could never be the 'superpower' it is known to be today.

Someone once said, 'In India, we do not think who we are, we simply know who we are.' People make the country and this could not be truer than in ours. We might do well to realize that for the majority of the citizens, foreign policies towards distant East Timor or West Bank or economic indicators are of little significance. What concerns people is security, physical, economical and otherwise. What they need is the dignity to live life.

Indians have become too diverse, too intellectually and economically scattered to call themselves united at any single point of time. But the entire country has been one large caring family during the Mumbai floods, in the aftermath of the tsunami and during the terror attacks that often follow days of an almost surreal peace. The fortitude, the display of unity and faith is what makes a nation strong and capable of making it through the tunnel.

The determinants of the level of development may not essentially agree but India stands united in the need of the hour, sans any barrier put up by vested interests. If this is not taken as development, maybe it is time we changed the parameters with which we measure progress.


San Nakji said...

The worst times are a test of a nation's character, you feel that India has passed?

Deepa said...

India has got a distinction!

San Nakji said...

Ha ha, very good. I was watching a Korean show today which was about Bollywood. It said that dance was the thing that kept India together.... :-|