Just a few days back, I get a mail from a Yahoogroup that identifies itself as a word that translates to "Developing India" and asks for me to join. It plans to make India developed in the coming 20 years and the groups mails are filled with action words.
This is something that almost all Indians who have web presence can identify with. We all are bombarded with mails urging us to join the crusade to make India a developed country within a fixed time-frame and asks to to contribute by joining their discussions. Just like in the past I have graduated from forwarding all forwards to judiciously deciding the relevant information mails, I believe for the last one year, I have also graduated from such groups.
Well, forwarding junk and spam mails is definitely wrong, so it is understandable that one should mature enough not to forward all the "Send this to 100 people and your secret heart-throb will propose to you tomorrow" mails. But achieving India's progress...isn't it good to participate in such discussions...and contribute to India's progress.
Not quite...and here's why I think that your patriotism is misplaced. These groups belong to one of the following categories:
The All Gas Variety: This is one of the most common type of group that you will find promoting India's progress. They will have a standard welcome mail that describes their vision and ask you to join them if you conform to their vision. But unfortunately, they will only serve as message boards where people will post latest political information by cutting and pasting them from well-known websites. Most of these groups' usual mail then slowly drifts from these issues to the new "mahamantra" of some obscure god/philosopher and how it can change your life. Occasionally, someone will try to revive the group by starting a debate, but as soon as the debate dies, they will go back to their usual self.
The Soapbox Variety: This is less common than the above mention one. These groups will also have a well defined charter and vision, but they will also have something more. They will have public speakers of the Uma Bharati's class. That is, whenever any new story about India comes up, they will start posting pages after pages of their dissection of what happened and what ought to happen. As such groups usually have more than one firebrand orators, debates start over who's ideas should be accepted. Seeing these debates, you will usually remember the husband wife joke that goes like this:
Husband says: "In my family, I take the major decisions while my wife takes the minor decisions. She decides which school my children will go to, what they will eat, how will we spend the budget, etc. while I take the major decisions like should India suspend trade ties with Pakistan, should US invade Iraq, etc." It must have been clear by now that they try to act like the husbands.
The Misplaced Patriotism Variety: This is the sort of variety that most of them try to reach. While some do, the logic that whem one wins a rat-race, one is still a rat holds. But why do I say that they have "Misplaced Patriotism"? The reason will be clear once we understand what these groups actually do. One of the most common features of these groups is the aggressive feature with regards to issues concerning India. Be it injustice meted out to someone, or some political parties political moves. First they will criticize them and reach a consensus on criticism, and then they will hold demonstrations in the capital cities for this cause. They also take on the system by organizing signature campaigns in their support and advertising them aggressively. Many a times, they do succeed in getting the attention of courts/media, etc. which result in a relook into the case in consideration. Upbeat by their victory, they become even more aggressive in their future campaigns. The story looks alright and seems like this has always been you idea of a dream group that will steer India ahead. Isn't it? Most of you will say yes, but I disagree.
There are two analogies that I want to draw here. The first analogy is that of a million drops filling an ocean. These groups are like one drop that will fill the ocean one day. But which day...it is not clear if it would be anytime soon. Just try and visualize that if a faucet drips water continuously, theoretically one day it will fill the ocean, but practically it will not. The second analogy is of bicycling on a muddy road. If you have got the experience, you will remember that for going ahead by them same distance, you will have to exert a lot of force to do it.
The India today is like this muddy road. By working hard to go ahead, though will make a progress, but that extra distance that you go ahead will not be worth the effort you have put in. So instead of bicycling, you ought to clear the mud first. President Abraham Lincoln once said: "If I were given 6 hours time to cut the tree, I will spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe." This is the most important lesson that these groups forget. They have been trying to cut the tree with a blunt knife, they have been tackling the symptoms and not the disease. Do these people think that just because one person got punished for his bad deeds, others will get scared. The answer to this is overwhelmingly loud NO. These groups will continue to work on fever while there is no stopping of the virus.
What needs to be done is creating a consensus among people on what should be the direction they want India to proceed, and then educate the masses to work for that mission. This is not that easy as this sounds. Those of you who have been following my blog would remember that long time back I had written an article on my vision of developed India. I had named it part one because I thought that I will write more. In fact I did wrote more, but just before publishing, I found that all my writings have been targeting the effect and not the cause. Unlike the first one that clearly stated its aim to get the desired effect, the aim of my subsequent posts was doomed to be lost in the bureaucracy of modern India, even if being taken up. All my work clearly lacked a well defined and achievable goal, with stress on the word achievable. This is why I held up writing those posts, all of which I scrapped today as worthless.
So what needs to be done? Is there any way?
We all keep cursing the work of government offices and envision a developed India where there are a lot of competing private sector companies giving us best quality services. I will give you the shock of your life. In India, it is not possible for a elected government servant to favor capitalism. Why? Because our constitution envisions India as a 'socialist' state. A food for thought for all of you:
In order to change the way things happen in India, we have to counter laziness and abuse of office. The best way to fight is to privatize as much as we can (note that I am not saying completely). So why not start with our constitution? Don't you think that we should first privatize our constitution....first remove the clause that envisions India as a socialist state? Don't you think that this will sharpen our knives a little....by at least allowing us to think Progress.
Think Developed India.