Do I want India to become a superpower, or an economic giant, or a spiritual centre of the world? These are questions that face the coming generations and the answer will determine the future direction that India must take. Each one of the options mentioned above sounds very attractive, ego-satisfying and powerful, but there is a much greater need today than ever before to think out of the box and analyze the past to lay the groundwork for the future. The obvious goals must be challenged to produce a more viable and permanent alternative for our children.
In today's world who does not desire power, adulation, and might to rule over others? These are the most natural instincts and very appealing to the modern youth and yesterday's older generation. But is that all there is to life, is it the sum all of our existence, is that why we came into this world? Without sounding overly spiritual and simplistic, allow me to offer you some thoughts to ponder over.
After 60 years of independence from British rule, we have achieved a lot and progressed on many fronts. There is no denying this. However, we have also blundered and failed in many areas of providing the basic needs to our common man. Gandhiji had said that the task is not over till the poorest of the poor has the opportunity to get his basic requirements of water, food, shelter etc. fulfilled and where are we by this benchmark?
30% of our population does not have access to clean drinking water, 20% of India goes to bed hungry every day, 48% of the children under five years old are malnourished, 12% of our brethren are homeless, unemployment stands at 18%, rich-poor divide keeps widening with 55% of the population earning only Rs. 20 per day or less and the list is endless. Something seems to be wrong and it merits our urgent attention.
So what I want India of future to be. I don't want our nation to be a superpower or an economic giant feeding only the rich or merely a spiritual haven. I want India to be a place where people are happy rather than amass wealth, where each one is worried about the other's well being, where rural, natural environmental atmosphere are preserved, where family in the larger sense remains intact and sacrifice not one-upmanship is the order of the day.
Since 70% of our people reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture as a living, let us strengthen this base rather than trying to replace it with urbanization with its glittering malls, fly-overs, imported goods, emphasis on only 'my growth', etc. Let us producewhat we consume and consume what we produce, let us be rich in heart and not in bank accounts, let us revere the farmer who gives us food rather than the politician who gives us false promises and fattens his own calf.
Major portions of state and national budgets, with all our intelligence and initiative, should be spent on rural and small scale sectors, on improving our natural, organic method of farming promoting multi-crops and bio-diversity, on small community-owned eco-friendly power generation units for villages, on promotion of community farming methods, on preserving our cultural heritage and ancestral wisdom. India lives in its villages and let us promote them to the fullest extent so that rural migration to cities is stopped, nay, the reverse takes place.
This is the India of my dreams which I may not live to see but the future generations could justifiably be proud of.
- Prem P. Verma
Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum
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