January 18, 2011

India a failing society?

You know that India is a happening story: see the growth charts, the malls, the new roads, multi-story complexes, NREGS type mega welfare schemes, high FII investments and share indices at great heights, and so on.
With China, it becomes Chindia - the duo that are driving the economy of the world. With Brazil etc, it becomes BRIC - a new powerhouse. With South Africa et al, it becomes BASIC - a pan-global interest group.
Top world leaders descended on Delhi one by one in the last three months. It is now a UNSC member and is being supported by many world powers for a permanent seat in the Security Council.
Obama tells his contrymen, they must follow Indians otherwise Indianswill overtake them. In any case, on purchase parity basis, Indian economy has overtaken many earlier economic powers and is third biggest economy, only after the US and China. It showed its strength during the recent global recession and bank falures.

That's India. So why this doom-saying heading. It must belong to Pakistan, not India.
Yes, but no. India is growing, India is rising, and India already is a developed nation (to quote Obama), BUT Indian society has decayed so much that many things may never be redeemed.

Take for instance the family. It is not my case that Indian family was a 'paragon of virtues'. It was beset with many ills and bred many hidden misdeeds. But it was a great support to all in the family, especially the old, in absence of good provisions for health, child-care, old-age and rehabilitation, and without an overall social security infrastructure. The facilities have not improved but the family support has gone. Villages and cities are full of widows, the aged and the chronically ill who nobody cares for.

Take the values. I admit that despite numerous scriptures, reformers, great leaders and preachers, Indian society has not learnt to conduct itself in a human and humane way. But the baggage ofpast values and traditions itself checks prople from going astray. The respect for the elderly and teachers, letting the elders take major family decisions, helping the needy, voluntary participation on social and religious occasions, not raising hand on women etc were ingrained into Indian child's psyche and he / she did not question the norms unless they became too inconvenient. It is good that many of the earlier conservative notions have become diluted especially in urban areas, but what we see today is a mix of very conservative [remember recent khap dictats and honour killings, or the way people came out when an illegal religious structure was broken down in Delhi?] and ultra-modern. People keep their conscience by convenience. And the results are showing in the form of crimes, deviations, depression, broken families, lifestyle diseases and so on.

Take probity in public life. It is [again] not my case that Indian society was more honest earlier than today. In fact, corruption in various forms has been part of all societies allwhere. But the current level of corruption, its acceptance by the society and involvement of opinion leaders and top government functionaries are not a small matter. When corruption reaches such levels, societies and nations fall apart. Look at Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and many African nations: corruption in differnt forms is also responsible for the sorry state of affairs in these countries.

The sad part of the story is, neither the Union or State governments or various institutions are trying to reform the system. The educational institutions - from play school to top management instituties - have become commercial entities. Among those who can afford good education, the premium is not on character building and overall personal growth but getting into IITs etc.
Governments are mired in corruption. Those who can make huge money for the party in power or its boss get top berths in Ministries and are made chairmen of various corporations and other public bodies. Favours are distributed freely, decisions are bought and sold, lobbyinsts are allowed to influence public policy... 'Cuts' in public contracts [even in NREGS] are a standard now. Fake bills, fake enrolments, fake works - these are commonplace. Everybody knows how the traffic police takes 'weekly' from trucks and private buses at the crossings and it is common knowledge that the money so collected goes to top levels in the police. You put a layer of inspectors over engineers and policemen - and the next day they start sharing the booty collected by the corrupt. Another layer above them and you add another layer of corruption.

That's where one feels, the society is in a state of decay: institutions are churning out garbage; those who should lead are leading donwwards; instead of showing resistance, the society aceepts and extols deviance.

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