INDIA IS MY COUNTRY – Thoughts – 2

(This is the first Guest Post to appear on this blog. This post is by Shri.Raja Swaminathan.
Actually this is a compilation of ‘tweets’ made by Shri.Raja Swaminathan on a particular day.
As I follow him on tweeter, on that particular day, when I go through his ‘tweets’, I find them very close to my thought process and other than this they talk about those important issues that needs to be focused and discussed collectively by all Indians today.
He talked about something very important that our country is missing today. Our society is missing today.
Not only had he talked about social, ethical, moral, values but also on economic issues and public-private partnership in the development of this country.
I sincerely want this to reach as many people as it can and start a thought provoking process to bring a collective change and a collective action among ourselves.
With his permission, I am sharing with you all his passionate thoughts on what we are missing and what we need to do.)

Every time I think about it, every time my respect for our founding fathers only increases.
The odds they faced! And how they managed!
– Communal tensions, very high rate of poverty, 500+ princely states…the West did not even expect India to survive as a country in 1947-48.
– Of what use is all this education if it still doesn’t make man respect man? Rather, our education seems to accentuate divides in society!
– Education is supposed to increase enlightenment. Take people out of darkness. Presumably darkness is cause of hate.
– Some of our hate-mongers are highly educated. And even respected. When I see Subramaniam Swamy spouting hatred regularly, I have to wonder!
– It’s everybody for himself now. Maybe times have become SO competitive – and greed so universal – that this was a natural consequence.
– When did EVERYTHING in life boil down to money, money and money alone? I don’t recall it being like this 30 yrs ago. Maybe I didn’t notice.
– My dad used to tell me “In matters of learning, look at people who have more than you. Aspire to be like them”. +
Today we have millions of more educated people. So much more technology. Life has become easier in many ways. But still SOMETHING’s missing.
– Though there was mass illiteracy (very few were highly educated), there were some strong values. Like “work is worship”. People worked hard.-
There was a junoon, there was a sense of purpose…even the songs reflected that. Hum laaye hain toofan se kashti nikaal ke…’

– They might have had personal differences, maybe egos too. But the idea – and needs – of ‘INDIA’ were bigger than all their own differences.
– Yet the founding fathers believed in India, built the nation, through all the crises. They’d sacrificed a lot personally to see a free India.
– My Dad used to say “In matters of money, look at people who have less than you. Be thankful for what you have, there are many worse off”.
– When did aspiration for money become the most coveted-for-aspiration in life? Define our “aspirational” society…How did this happen?
– Not suggesting that everything was great in the past. Of course, it wasn’t. Many things are much better now. But the obsession with money…
The obsession to have more and more…in a country short of land, with millions homeless, buy more and more land/flats…
– Our crisis of land/water shortage is only getting exacerbated with rising population. There will be more profiteering. Ppl see only $$$$$
– What sort of society are we then moving towards? How many more beggars will we create? This time begging for water…
– And we continue to fight over petty things like who said what to whom when. Fights between the haves. The have-nots don’t have time to fight.
– The have-nots are eking out a daily existence, working day and night. Just to survive. How unequal has our society become!
The biggest loss in any society, in my opinion, is a loss of basic human values. If this doesn’t exist, the society is doomed.
We need to restore these basic values in society. It’s not a zero-sum game. We can be economically vibrant AND have values in society.
– Very true. There’s no trust anymore. In anybody, in any institution…they’ve all sadly been seen to have feet of clay.

There are still people with integrity out there. Fighting hard not to fall prey to the system. But the system gets more and more consuming.
– I don’t want to get into this capitalism vs socialism debate but I cannot accept that we cannot “grow” without destroying our environment.
– I tend to think our definition – and measure – of “growth” itself is suspect.
– We’ve defined it in a consumption society. The more you consume, the more gets produced to meet the demand. Ergo, more “wealth”. +
Have we put a price on our forests, on our rivers, on our ecosystem that sustains us every day with the air we breathe?
– We haven’t- because they are all priceless! Ironically because they ARE priceless, we don’t value them. Not if we cannot “monetize” them!
– The argument for a consumerist society (the buzzword is “aspirational”) is that it creates jobs through more production to feed consumption.
– I have my own doubts on the input:output ratio (what with increasing mechanization) but for the moment let me accept this argument in part.
– Shouldn’t a more holistic approach then take a look at ALL resources (incl environmental resources) to see how best to meet aspirations?
– Even the aspirations are mischievously mis-represented to cater to industry groups and their lobbies.
– People don’t all want cars. That’s an aspiration created by the car industry. They want convenient and quick travel options.
– In our cities, if we had top-class connectivity (incl last mile), would we have SO many cars on our roads? I don’t think so.
– In a developing country, investment in public infrastructure is usually very high in the country’s list of economic priorities.
– In India, after failing miserably for decades, we’ve now conveniently passed on responsibility to the magical PPP model.
– As if public-private partnership will suddenly deliver all the public infrastructure that decades of neglect didn’t.
– In a country like India, where governance and transparency are already endangered species of good practice, PPP is a cruel joke.
– In theory, PPP is fine. Get the best of govt resources and private-sector skills/practices to develop infrastructure jointly.Yes, in theory.
– But in practice, it is more likely to bring out the worst of both. Govt will blame pvt sector, pvt sector will blame govt.
– So I am rather cautious about PPP in the Indian context.Not the concept, as its implementation in India. And I haven’t even talked cronyism.
– As long as the fundamentals (I mean the govt machinery with checks/balances) are not in place, I wouldn’t bring in private sector into eqn.
– Which begs the question: If the fundamentals ARE in place, the govt should be able to execute public infra projects on its own, right?
– After all, many of the major public infra projects in the 1950s/60s were all govt projects. Like Bhakra-Nangal Dam.
– Is it competence? Is it that the public sector does not now attract the required talent to execute these infra projects?
– Is it purely a redefinition of government? Defining its boundaries more narrowly, to exclude such projects?
What is it, I’d like to know. How is it that the govt could execute so many infra projects in the 1950s. And today struggles to lay roads?

We need to realise first and foremost that this is PUBLIC infrastructure. So the buck stops with the government.
– If it chooses to partner with private parties, that’s its choice. But it cannot abdicate responsibility quoting PPP or whatever.
– Look at the mess with gas pricing with Reliance.Look at the coal block allocations mess.Surely the govt shd’ve first thought it through?
– I don’t blame the pvt sector. It will try to maximise profits at every opportunity. It is the govt which needs to define the framework.
With so many competent people in govt, why was the framework so loose? So open to misuse? I can only speculate that vested interests ruled.
So it’s not (only) competence. It’s integrity. Once the economy was “opened up”, the country was put up for sale – without checks/balances.
See, we end up exactly where we started. That word.  INTEGRITY.  Maybe that’s what our founding fathers had more of. Making all the difference.
Integrity. A word somewhat difficult to describe. But you notice it – because it makes ALL the difference.

Happy 5 th Birthday …

Thanks to my friend Pamir Harvey whose similar activity for his blog inspired me that I should also take care of my own blog, while I do other activity and contributions to other blogs.

So here is wishing my dear blog ‘SAMAJ SHILPI’ (‘the Social Architect’) a very very HAPPY BIRTHDAY today.

It was through a conscious thought process that the date ‘5 th June’ was selected to launch this lovely creative blog.
As today 5 th also happens to be the ‘World Environment day’ every year.

To bring ‘environmental awareness’ is one of the core objective of this blog.

On this occasion today I wish to thank my founding members’ friends Ashish Tilak, Bharat Bhatt and my younger daughter Ashwini for their constant support and encouragement to me.
While Ashwini has also been the major contributor for her posts since she was studying in Std VII th, and to some extent could not devote much time due to her board exams since last year. (Though in between she contribute some posts)
As her exams are over I hope her posts would be coming regularly now.

Back to ‘Samajshilpi’,
He will continue to fight for the ‘right’ and to bring ‘positive change’ in the society.

Many things happen regularly around us that shake up our conscience and the current socio-political scenario had posed many serious threats for all the human beings who love peace and believe in ‘live and let live’. Crime against women and children are continuing as if there is no fear of ‘law’ for those who commit these crimes and carry on anti social activities. Corruption has damaged the total social fabric and everything seems to be ‘fixed’ in favor of the ‘wrong’.

“We continue to tolerate the ‘wrong’ at the cost of the ‘right’, (that is what my favorite writer/poet Gulzar saab express recently speaking on the occasion of the release of the 3 rd edition of his ‘dyodhi’. )

Samajshilpi, is closely watching them all, observing them & feeling them all. He do feel ‘sad’ and ‘helpless’ at times, but then the hope for the ‘positive change’ keeps him ‘optimistic’ and motivates to carry his role further ….

Wishing all readers and well wishers of this blog very happy ‘Environment day’ today, I leave all of your with the following thought provoking ‘tweet’ shared recently by my another good friend Raja Swaminathan –

“The day people respect facts more than opinion, we will become a more objective society, and the media could help by leading”