The Politics of Development

319925301_dcf539e8e3.jpgIndia Shinning, fifty years of glorious independence, and the perfect development strategy has made India a booming IT sector today. We have brand endorsements of Nike, Adidas, Reebok et al. We crave for the delicious and the yummy French fries, and desi chole kulche and garam pakoras seem so out of fashion now! Its the era of moving from being the downtrodden “desi” to the happening “videshi”.

We speak of India today as one of the fastest developing countries. However, honestly speaking, are we truly moving towards development or are we just moving away from being “swadeshi“? If this problematic question is contemplated upon,  we will realize that the ‘developing’ India just includes the likes of Hyderabad, New Delhi, Bangalore. Where, then, do we place regions like the most rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and even UP for that matter?

When we talk of the developed India, we generally refer to great personalities like the Mallayas, the Ambanis and the Tatas vying for a place in the Forbes list as the richest Indians. What, then, becomes of the poor and the marginalized sections of the society? Are they not Indians? The reality remains that the development strategy has worked well only for the already rich. The poor continue to remain poor and no one seems to care. It is as if they have become inconspicuous by their presence.

When the election time comes, the leaders who campaign pretend that concern for these people is their topmost priority. Yet, elections come and go, the poor always remain the poor. Despite the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and programmes like “Garibi Hatao“, why is widespread poverty still a harsh reality? The answer, it seems, is simple – it is because these programmes have just remained programmes and nothing else. They look good only on paper.

How, then, can we say that India is one of the fastest developing countries? It is only when India, which claims to be a socialist democracy, becomes a democracy in the real sense will it actually develop. Development is, and has been, the topmost priority since the time of Independence . It is true that we have made some progress yet the flaws persist and today, it needs serious reconsideration. The majority of the poverty stricken masses have been overlooked for too long and its time that we cared because it is this bulk which makes the real India or our own desi Bharat.

Industrial sectors keep advancing at a rapid pace but at the cost of human lives and living spaces of the slum dwellers. Everyday we read of these helpless victims being evicted to make way for a Special Economic Zone. Is it right, or even moral, to advance at such a rapid pace when it is leading to degeneration of the rural sector at the same rapid pace?

The truth is that we have scholars and the development scientists who are genuinely concerned for the plight of the masses. However, they need to realize that writing and advising from some distant university in the USA and UK is not much of a help. The failure of our leaders and these great personalities can be overcome with a new awakening amongst the masses.

The spirit to change definitely exists, which shows itself when we sit together, forgetting all differences, to watch the cricket matches. We all did get a sense of realization when we had movies like Chak De! India and Rang De Basanti. It is clear then that all we need is a greater motivation to change and give our country a new direction.

The need is to bring an overall human development, a sense of empowerment to scale India to new heights. To do this, we do not need to westernize ourselves; promoting and adapting our own cultural ties is also development.  South Korea, one of the most developed nations in South Asia, is where people speak, act and behave like true Koreans. The english language and ideas of the West are not an influence. The conclusion, then, is that one need not adapt to someone else’s culture to advance and then garb it under the guise of “development”.

Someone great had written, “nothing is permanent but only change in itself is permanent.” Revolutions do not happen at the blink of an eyelid, but once the step is taken, there is no looking back. Just the dream to change is, in itself, a giant leap towards the path of bringing about a change. Our motto should be to change from “westernizing ” India to simply ” modernizing ” India.

Dipti Tamang

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