Dear India, Stop Turning Into a Superficial Consumerist Society
Remind yourself every single day that human life is way more precious than caste, creed and religion.
How does it feel to be the most populous democracy of the world? How does it feel to have 23 official languages and a cultural history that is as diverse as man’s imagination? Must be more than nice, isn’t it?
Now, how does it feel when a certain city of yours gets choked in smoke and haze, making the little ones suffer the most? How does it feel when the primary education sector is grossly neglected with only a meagre financial allocation? How does it feel when horrific stories of torture on women come up every other day? How does it feel when motorists become victims while driving through the pothole infested roads?
I am sure you don’t feel good when you hear all this negative stuff. So, let’s take a deep breath and look at something not so grim. Like the proposal of a bullet train for which the country is willing to borrow Rs 88,000 crores from Japan at 0.1% interest, repayable in 50-60 years. Sounds awesome, right?
But, for a minute, just for a minute, try to imagine what this huge sum could have done if invested diligently in the road and railway infrastructure.
For starters, it could have mended more than thousand potholes in the capital city itself last year! It could also have strengthened the efficacy of the Right to Education Act. But that shouldn’t be a distracting factor. Nor the fact that around 29 train accidents took place in the first six months of 2017. And only 13% of the kids out of 97% enrolled in class II can actually read. You see, the shining facade is more important and at times an absolute necessity, superseding the real need.
You know India, you have changed so rapidly that at times, we, your own people, find it difficult to actually relate to you. We see horribly broken roads leading to colossal shopping complexes, extravagant rooftop lounges overlooking shanties where kids fight for a day’s meal, the affluent driving BMWs, Audis while the economically disadvantaged are denied ration for lack of an identity card. Interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think so? Of course, you have the full right to defend yourself with the fact that every nation, even the most powerful one, stumbles upon such awful mess.
But how long, dear nation? You were a country of intertwining cultures and faith with a rich historical legacy. You cannot afford to go down history with an indelible stain. It’s time you stop turning into a superficial consumerist society. It’s time you stop turning into a land where the womenfolk feel unsafe to venture out. It’s time you provide social security benefits to 80% of the workforce employed in the unorganised sector of your shining economy. To be precise, it’s time you be synonymous with compassion, justice and equality.
Look around, understand, walk through the alleys of pollution, starvation, corruption and exploitation. You will come across many of your citizens who will be more than happy to accompany you in your quest for wholesome development. Development, as it seems today, has gone awry. It stands for everything that stands against nature and humanity. You can reverse that. Be the nation that respects its people. Nurture hope in the young ones so that they don't grow up with the dream of leaving their own land one day for good. And lastly, remind yourself every single day that human life is way more precious than caste, creed and religion.
Kathakali Das Bhaumik
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