Smart, sophisticated and classy; the Indian is fast becoming the face of the world.
Look out for any big city in India, and you can see the shimmer around it. See the malls, the abundant industry, the job oriented –fashion conscious youth and the rich lifestyle that the average Indian has adopted. Look at the fine way that we have learnt to dine on an Irish delicacy or a French cuisine, look at the exceptionally brilliant ways of fly kissing and murmuring suave English lingo’s. India is shining, and why not?

The Ambanis are among the richest in the world. Indian schools have made a mark in the world, Bollywood faces have become international and the country is going under a top to bottom revamp.

The 2003 BJP ‘India Shining’ campaign pompously spread the word that India is expanding in all quarters. Be it the automobiles, the IT industry, the BPO segment, or the retail or anything under the sun, India is getting there and doing that.

So far, so good, but another look at the situation says that we are in troubled waters. The problems that India was born with on 15th August are still, sorry to say, the same. Worse, if not better.

Much of rural India is still illiterate, jobless, nutrition devoid and rights curbed.

They say a good cover doesn’t really ensure a good book. The truth is we have made a grand packing cover for our nation, we have provided for a half-baked, patch-work solution, which in no time, will be in shreds.

Years back, when we envisaged to be a free nation, we selected democracy, for it possessed the power to bring out change. Change we surely have brought about, but a change in the way we look, not the way we are. It is a truth that we seldom accept, but we are still a nation of people who don’t know where we are heading. Our problems are perennial in nature and each Indian has learnt to put up with it. We don’t mind skipping a signal, paying a 100 rupee bribe, hopping our way in to queues; we don’t mind being sophisticated in another country and we don’t care about being careless and insensitive in our own . The same person will never dream of dropping a piece of paper on London streets, but back here in Mumbai, he doesn’t think twice before lowering his Astra window and spitting on the Marine Drive.

A part of the problem is the people we have put up there in the Parliament, years after years. An ideal politician in India is a 60 plus, paan-munching, dhoti-clad man, with no ideas whatsoever, save doing his bit for his coterie. A look at their educational qualification and you figure out why we don’t promote education at all. Why should we, when we choose almost illiterate goons as leaders. Why should we then educate our kids; when we don’t mind electing a man with no inclination whatsoever to bring about positive change?

Examine our political scenario. We are more divided there than any other place. Our politicians ask for votes on the basis of religion, caste, minority, races, languages and what have you in clear violation of constitutional integrity, but we silently let it all pass. Take the example of reservations. Is it difficult for any common man to understand that reservations should keep in mind merit and that it should be at the lower level and not directly at the post graduate spectrum? Is making a logical decision that hard? A politician today can create fury in the name of language. Does he not have any better issues? And we are so disillusioned that we come running on the streets at the slightest political discourse! What does one need today to win in elections? Lineage, caste or muscle – probably all three!

Many of us have lost faith in the electoral system. We have stopped hoping that things will get better. Each party looks worse than the other; you have a choice between the bad and the worse. Come to think of it, why should any Indian get excited about the upcoming polls? The 2009 election will perhaps be the most mundane thing in Indian history. Election Manifestos will have the same agenda – promising roti, kapda aur makaan. And the fools that we are, we will still elect a winner out of this mess who will plan and plan for the next 5 years on how to keep promising the same basic things. Don’t they have the vision to look beyond the basics?

We need to really get poised and let India shine, but for that we need fearless leaders, who love the country, not the gaddi. Who don’t think twice before making unpopular painful, yet logical decisions for the country that will take India to the next level. And who, in the end, is capable of getting us a leader like this? We, the people, of course!

Amrita Jain

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