The Legacy

By and large, the so-called television ‘news’ channels in India have their own mind…when choosing to focus on a story… no matter what is happening around the world or the country.

Surprisingly, the other day, while surfing news channels, I came across a gentleman from Odisha, interacting with the anchor of the programme. The gentleman was quoting the “Indian thought” on governance, especially distinguishing between economic development and general development of a society.

The gentleman spoke at great length in management lingo on how, after independence, our governance model has equated “development” directly with “economic” development in totality and nothing else.

According to him, for over sixty years, the political masters have very firmly believed that economic betterment of a society would automatically take care of all other development parameters.

The underlying tone of the expert was that countries and cultures maturing within the new global socio-economic scenario have accepted money-centric capitalism as the only panacea for all their ills.

While completely disregarding holistic human development and time-tested ancient practices in trade and the political economy, India today is solely rooted just in GDP.

Parameters to collect data on literacy in India are largely understood as the ability to ‘sign one’s name’. At the same time, there do not exist any parameters to collect data on education per se. Of course, there is data available on the number of institutions engaged with educating the Indian. Instead of strengthening moral science at the school level even the subject of civics has either been diluted or removed completely from the curriculum.

In India, “art and culture” is understood only as government-funded and government-organised events of dance – drama or an anniversary of a cultural doyen in a metro city.

Is it too late to look beyond the GDP in India? The answer could easily be a big yes. Why? Simply because the third generation Indian after independence has already become a parent without the sensitivity, training or respect for the value system that ancient India cherished and taught the world. And that is the parent who is breeding our next generation… completely bereft of cultural sensitivities and human values.

The third generation Indian who drives a motorbike on a pavement with impunity, without blinking, reminds one of the Darwinian Theory of “survival of the fittest”… that was taught to my generation in school in the botany class. And the law of Darwin is just as much applicable to the human kingdom.

To be fit to survive in the Indian context today, is to be able to buy that luxury flat, that SUV and those consumer goods that are stocked up by the malls across the metros and cities with one million people. Consumerism and materialism at its best.

It does not matter to this third generation Indian as to how many hours he spends outside his home as long as he has a good amount of money in his bank account in India or Switzerland…it does not matter to him if he does not spend much time reading or even silently spending time with his children, the spouse or the parents.

Where are we headed… towards an impending social disaster? Yes. It is sad that the Indian intellectual is a mute spectator enjoying the perks and patronage doled out by the political class. He who bends backwards more is provided with a greater medal in the yearly civil awards ceremony by the President of India.  Those with some self- respect, feel ashamed in lobbying with the politicians and the bureaucrats and naturally the size of the “club” keeps swelling.

Why should it be like this? Is it because, we “the people” prefer to go for a holiday on the polling day…then end up electing a regional political party to draft the national policy having secured  just 1.9% of vote share in the national parliamentary elections? Things must change…but how? Merely sending the discarded corrupt politicians to jail is not the remedy…Perhaps accountability of the political and bureaucratic system is the answer. And above all, complete overhaul of the education system. Rote learning is no more the answer in this all encompassing digital age.

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