India : A two - in - one nation

Came across an interesting article written by Tushar A Gandhi, Founder President Mahatma Gandhi Foundation.
October 2 was the 139th birth anniversary of Bapu, Father of the Nation, Mahatma, Mohandas K Gandhi. In six decades, we have drifted far away from his vision of India and have abandoned him in our quest for world acclaim. Bapu has been reduced to a farce, to be enacted on two days and forgotten for the rest of the year.
It took 60 years for a politician of consequence to admit that the only thing achieved by the leaders of independent India was the creation of two countries existing simultaneously in what we call one nation — India. An affluent, westernised, developed India dispersed in isolated pockets, which takes more than its fair share of the infrastructure and natural resources of the nation and cribs when it comes to paying for all this in the form of taxes. And the other is poverty-stricken, undeveloped, reduced to hamlets shrouded in dust, populated by poor starving millions, lacking in infrastructure and deprived of facilities.
The other day, I was surfing channels and came across a dusty, sweating Rahul Gandhi speaking to the camera crew from somewhere in rural Rajasthan, admitting that every day he was discovering that there were two Hindustans. Bapu had warned about this long ago, he warned that if leaders of free India did not consider the village to be the most important unit of our nation, and did not formulate policies in a way that the village would be the centre of its focus, all development would start from the village and all power would flow from the village, India would face ruin. Instead, the founding fathers of our nation chased grand dreams and were busy imposing grand schemes and policies. In the quest for greatness, they forgot our villages and the needs of the poor villagers.
In independent India, policies have been designed to turn our poor into beggars, not to empower them with the ability to become strong and self-reliant, enabling them to live with dignity and pride. Today, when a bureaucrat or politician visits poverty-stricken villages, all that the villagers care about is what they have brought as hand-outs. How much cash? How much ration? What free gifts? Our poor have been robbed of self-esteem and dignity and have been reduced to beggars. Under the guise of Garibi Hatao, the poor have been obliterated from our consciousness.
In Hindi there is a saying Der aye durust aye, which loosely translates as ‘Even though you have arrived late, you have reached the correct destination’. It has taken a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family a long time to accept this anomaly. I hope the United Progressive Alliance government, headed by the Congress, will sit up and take note of this. Having ruled India for the longest period since independence, the Congress and its governments are largely responsible for the creation of the two states within one nation, two states that are widely separated by economic and infrastructural disparities.
Bapu’s plan for the selfsufficient village republic that would usher in Purna Swaraj, where the weakest of the weak and poorest of the poor would be heard and where their needs would be considered primarily, was scoffed at by our founding fathers. They were keen on giant industrial plants and very big infrastructural projects. So what if we can’t provide basic educational facilities in every village, we must burn thousands of crores of rupees in the vain attempt to put an Indian on the moon.
So what if hundreds of poor infants die of malnutrition, our finance minister will smile while raising a toast to the booming stock exchange, which is now the criterion by which our economy is measured, not by the lessening of hunger for our starving millions. So what if we cannot provide medical facilities to every citizen, we will gloat in the rising number of billionaires and the number of planes and fast cars they acquire. These are the new milestones of India’s development. The poor be damned! While this is the trend, it is heartening to hear, hopefully, a sincere acknowledgement of how drastically things have gone wrong with independent India and how if the widening gap between the prosperous and the poverty-stricken India is not bridged soon and a process of economic unification is not implemented immediately, we are heading for a collapse as a nation.
Bapu has left behind a blueprint for effectively bridging this divide. It is not too late.
We can still implement it and reap the rewards.
Now that the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal has almost been sealed, I hope Manmohan Singh, who has been solely preoccupied with its fate at the expense of many more critical situations at home, will have some time to address them. Mr Singh, you have wasted enough time pursuing your N-deal, now can we please beg you to deal with many fires that you have left burning for too long? Please sir, now that you have delivered your favourite baby, will you attend to the others who have been crying for your attention for far too long?

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