Prologue : Riddled with ‘buts’
Now, where should I start? How about India – our motherland. It’s no news to us that we gained independence in 1947 after 200 years of British dominion. Since then, almost 7 decades later, here we are, in a nation that are fore fathers , if alive today, would fail to recognise. So much of growth and advancement that has rained upon our land brought with it a paradigm shift in the ways, culture and essence of our nation but at a collateral cost i.e. both positive and negative. We may have westernized and advanced in terms of technology and lifestyle but we still remain retrograde in terms of developing an actual civic consciousness and sense of pervasive social justice. The latter being the true parameter for judging a nation’s definite growth. Our forefathers did not sacrifice themselves for the likes of such a country that has, today, forgotten the real meaning of freedom. True, we are progressing – But are we, really? True ,we have faster cars, high rise skyscrapers, multi-national giants at our doorstep –convenience at its epitome, the best in technology- be it outsourced, and even our very own mars mission due 2014 But what about the millions in agony – famished, illiterate and worse of all, hopeless!? Who’s going to be their saviour? The Government you say but we already know how that works, don’t we? The underprivileged have only been a vote bank to our leaders and nothing else! How can we truly progress until and unless this strata of our nation is taken care of ? How do we expect ourselves to be a truly developed nation when so many (and believe you me, the numbers would baffle your mind) of our fellow brothers and sisters are out there on the streets, despairingly surviving on crumbs and some, begging for a bite of that sandwich in your hand? Do you really think that it’s the natural course of life that only a few get to be happy while others search for happiness in heaps of garbage!? NO! It’s not natural. Although it might be a consequence of over-population but it doesn’t change the fact that ill-governance has been the prime factor causative to such state of affairs.
Since birth, most of us have been lucky enough to be a part of the top 3% of this 140 million strong country. We never did anything to deserve this lifestyle or economic status but its high time we took the onus of actually deserving what we have. Now’s the time to act. Our nation today needs entrepreneurs more than ever. India needs a whole lot of individuals who’ll come forward and devise workable plans and implement those solutions to the real pain points, for the greater good. She needs real people who can take it upon themselves to execute the task of ensuring balanced regional development- something we were all taught as a part of Indian economics. I’m talking about reinventing management education and bringing to the foray, the real task at hand.
The status quo
Let me put forth the current scenario of our realm and I shall leave the rest to your judgement. India, as a nation, is too obsessive on being a superpower. She should, rather, focus on solving its biggest problems (corruption, poverty, illiteracy…) in order to become a truly great nation. As of now, regardless of the hype – be it the successful launch of the GSAT into space infinite or the creation of the world’s tallest statue in Gujarat, India is failing as a nation. Our ‘respected’(quotes denote satire) politicians may thump their chests in pride on the mounting prominence of India in the G20 and initiation of lobby for a new G10 but the truth of the matter is that corruption and poverty have plagued our nation to immeasurable depths of despair. Almost one third of our districts are infested with Maoist revolutionaries who shall never succumb to the demands of a moving India, even if it means their death. Such is the extent to which we need to counter the sicknesses.
I’m not one to make comparisons but if we look at our neighbours, we find that China has undoubtedly made its great leap forward while we’re limping two steps ahead and then stumbling back one! Two decades back, cattle in both India and China delivered similar productivity (1000-2000 litres of milk per annum). Today India yields more or less the same results whereas China has improved almost 5 times. What do you think is holding the Indian dairy farmers back?
India, an agricultural land is rain-dependent but on an average only 38% of arable land is irrigated even though solutions for the same such as drip irrigation are available which are, at present, being utilized by only a meagre 5% of the land. Why don’t our farmers demand such methods to their relief? Almost 450 million people in India make up for our workforce of which a whopping 90% haven’t completed their basic school education, and since labour productivity is directly linked to education, the question arises that why does the Indian labour not demand education? And once again, you know the answer very well. It’s so obvious and well known that it may scare you. Well, the reason is ‘you’. Believe it or not , If we don’t drive a tsunami of civil cognizance and fresh illuminations into the heart of our nation, we may soon become orphans! As disheartening as it may sound, it is the verity and it never fails to taste bitter.
Here’s the silver lining – There’s still optimism. Where you ask? It dwells deep within the human spirit each one of us fosters and my job here is to stimulate, if possible, even one soul. Only if we, the youth, the power, the reflection of modern India, the 50% of India’s population (below 25 years of age) – her so called future take it in our stride to cure our motherland of these myriad diseases, can there be hope for India.
Firstly, we need to eliminate any sort of inequality that is prevalent here. Almost 2/3rds of Indians work as farmers yet they account for only a fifth our GDP. Moreover, the degree of dismal conditions that they survive in is no news to us; if not then you are most welcome to visit any nearby village and judge for yourself. With virtually negligible scope for upward mobility, our poor farmers strive to arrange for 2 square meals a day whilst their angst and unending distress trespasses the rims of suicide and responsibility. Their forlorn lives oscillate as a rusty pendulum between the scorching heat of the sun and a phantom thunder – a promise of rain and better days which if even given a chance, are again, numbered. Such is the life of an average farmer (93 million plus in totality) while we sit in air conditioned restaurants and crib about the choice of meal served and even have the audacity to waste food – day in and day out. Yes, I am trying to hit a nerve, so please pause here and ponder for a moment.
Now, given the state of affairs in the agricultural scenario, take a look at the solutions. We need to find a way to beat the trade barriers established by the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) . You might say that solutions for the same exist in the form of co-operatives but tis also true that such solutions often end up as monopolies in the hands of politicians who do anything and everything they can to prevent functioning of competing co-operatives. Tch tch! Its as if every time you break a wall standing in between the vision i.e. ‘India Shining’, there’s another one standing, shamelessly so, right behind it.
Think about it, this vicious circle is eating away our nation – gradually but steadily so. The system needs our help now more than ever. Increase your contribution to the GDP by creating unique solutions for the nation and in turn generating employment for others as well. Unemployment is a major issue at hand. According to the Economist, India will soon have a fifth of the world’s working-age population which urgently needs to be provided with better jobs. Consider the scale of the challenge: In the next decade India will have to come up with 100 million new jobs. This is where innovation and creation shall come in to play and you can be the much needed player.
The possibilities are endless provided you act now and stay true to the course of your aim which is a significantly better future for us, for our kids, for India.
Epilogue: Answered through ‘ifs’
This one is yours to write. If one innovation of yours could change this world, what would it be?
.. I shall leave you to ponder over the infinite ‘what ifs’ and you can reply back to Mother India.
Thank you so much