Vijay (veira) wrote,

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The weight of a comparison...

In India it will take 50 years...In India, the politicians will never allow it to happen...In India, nobody has traffic sense...Compared to US, in India...Compared to China, in India...I sometimes shudder to think, why India is one of the most closely scrutinised objects amongst the non resident Indians. We teach our children not to get into the comparison game, because each one is endowed with unique traits and characteristics. As humans, while we sometimes start to compare, we tend to conclude looking at our positives and give ourselves the benefit of doubt. Yet, when it comes to India, we are "critically" critical.

I noticed this while living in China as a non resident Indian. Add to this is the fact that India and China are supposedly fighting a race to gain supremacy in all spheres. But I believe this is not to do with China alone. Looking at some of the comments on sites like facebook, and discussions amongst people who live outside India across the world, it looks to me that a significant part of the conversation is around what is lacking in India. Or atleast that is what gets expressed and probably the goodness is never talked about. Or is it a way of laughing at ourselves? I do not think so, seeing the passion with which conversations are debated against the inadequecies of India. Solutions are freely shared in the form of transferring the good practices of say US or China to India. Simple!

I do not for a minute think that these people are not patriotic. It is probably a mindset which starts developing when one sees India from a outside in view. A case of "one size fits all" syndrome. This is quite a prejudiced way of looking at a heterogenous and growing country like India. Similar to the way we evaluate our children and ourselves, we need to accept the fact that India is in the midst of transformation and all the chaos may not be bad. This does not approve of the India as it exists. Of course we need to develop faster, making it more prosperous. We do want India to evolve into a nation where poverty does not exist, no child is illiterate and people do not die due to lack of healthcare. However achieving this will be a process and will not happen overnight. We need to realise that we have chosen to follow a democracy where each section's voice needs to be heard. The unfortunate part of the situation is that most of people are contend to giving views and solutions without really attempting to make a difference. While a revolution is not practical for most of the population, small efforts could possibly add up to the bigger picture of change.

However the current state means that we will continue to develop but there will be no quick fixes. We need to allow for the diversity in opinion which many a time will create hurdles in the path of development. One of the other oft repeated views from people I meet, is to follow a system like China where decisions are taken and implemented by a group of people. And this they say is the only way to govern a nation of 1 billion people. Without getting into the pros and cons of a communist (read dictatorship) form of government, I feel this is an easy statement to make because, firstly we have not lived under a dictatorship, secondly we discount the China of pre-1978 which was poorer than India and thirdly in hindsight the experiment in China has been successful. It need not be a remedy for India. Dr Manmohan Singh had this to say in his interview with Fareed Zakaria on his show "Fareed Zakaria GPS" telecast on November 22, 2009 prior to his visit to Washington - "...they are struck by the energy with which the Chinese are both building infrastructure, the ease with which you can set up businesses. And they wish that they could see a similar process in India. Well, I have no hesitation in saying that I think development in India cannot be a carbon copy of what happens in China. And the Chinese system is very different. We are a functioning democracy. And even if you want to acquire land, I think you run into serious problems, and there's for -- of operating a democracy. And democracy is slow-moving." This statement from a person whom people across the spectrum respect and admire, hits the issue at its roots. On the other hand, it will be unfair to compare US or Europe to India. While India will continue to progress, it will not be a painless progress.

So does that mean one needs to accept the status quo and be part of the frequently said phrase..."We are like this only"? Perhaps yes, but without the cynicsm. An understanding of the current reality of India, be proud of the achievements until now and the difficult path into the future. This is not a reasoning for the state of things, but a reality check wherein more efforts need to be put to perform in the model of governance we have chosen. While we need to benchmark ourselves against the best, not having a carbon copy should not be deemed as failure.

Till then, I have to agree with what the noted historian and scholar Ramachandra Guha said "It is only the non resident Indians who want India to be a super power"..."not the residents themselves..." Such is the weight of a comparison!

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