Articles

SIXTY FOUR YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE - RESOLVE FOR A NEW DIRECTION

Vande Maataram (Three times) Whenever I see our flag flying high in the flagpost, I am reminded of the poetic lines of the great National Poet “Subramanya Bharati” who foresaw Indian Independence, emergence of modern India, new Indian women etc more than hundred years ago and celebrated it in his great poem-songs:

“Thaayin Manikkodi Paareer, - Athai

Thaazhnthu Paninthu Puhazhnthida Vaareer”

“Hey All! See high above the great flag of the Mother”

“Come on let us bow to it humbly and sing in praise”

Dr. Kushal, a dynamic and forward looking leader of the DAV system, Smt. Bhattacharya, Principal DAV School, New Panvel, Smt. Sen Gupta Principal KVS, Nagpur, Teachers, Staff, Parents, Other Eminent persons, Media persons, dear Students, I intend to talk to you, rather interactively on a topic

SIXTY FOUR YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE - RESOLVE FOR A NEW DIRECTION

INTRODUCTION

During the twentieth century, about a century ago, life in general all over the world had started moving very fast. This is partly due to the growth of science and technology (S&T), its impact on industry and business, as well as wars, communications, transport, agriculture and health sector. It appeared as if the humanity was cutting loose from the millions of years of slow and steady evolution.

Many countries got liberated during the middle of 20th century from the foreign colonial rule. The colonial masters possessed the new found S&T knowledge, industry, warfare etc for more than two centuries before that and they could dominate the world. They are still the developed countries having large influence in the world.

Huge countries like India and China were among those who got their independence during mid-20th century.

India is a free country for the past 64 years. “We the people of India” was the proud slogan; we used to describe how we organize our governance, life, society, economy etc. Nehru’s famous speech” Our tryst with destiny….”resonated in the hearts of all Indians and they had great hopes for India. Since then, there are lots of achievements and many more missed opportunities.

Looking back the 64 years, it had two broad phases: 1947-1991, 44 years of centralized rule from Delhi on most aspects of economy, S&T, financial systems etc. Lots of socialist slogans were used, including emotional ones like “Garibi Hatao”. But Indian economy acquired a derogative name of having a “Hindu rate of growth” slow 2 to 4% growth. There was scarcity all over. But we had used high moral sounding standards, total control of innovation & enterprise through license-permit-quota-inspector raj-all these leading a widely spread corruption and black money. Though poverty removal was very slow, the slow economic growth created rich and powerful classes: in politics, in business; in villages; and in the underworld.

Still we have to also see positive parts: this governance system created several modern systems in India in higher education; in some fields of S&T; continued the strengthening of the British trained modern defence forces which respect rule by the civilians; fairly good administrative and judicial infrastructure; a reasonable health care system; independent free press; - yet all struggling to reach their best potential.

But the terribly slow growth rate frustrated the aspiring middle classes which have grown in size especially due to growth in higher education. Then with a major economic crisis, the country broke open many of its unnecessary economic fetters during 1991; it is now twenty years since then. But it was not a full economic and social freedom. Vestiges of earlier laws (thousands in number) and autarkic procedures (many hundred of thousands in number) still mark the governance and judicial systems.

Therefore even as the nation is trying to run faster in the economic and social front, coming close to a steady 7 to 8% growth rate, there are many injurious falls, bleeding and worrying confusions.

Some call for more and more controls by the Central Govt and Supreme Court. We look for an apex ultimate inspector and a cleaner of public life through a Lokpal. We feel that media trials of the guilty will clean up the system. We feel one single uniform curriculum, admission, and entry examinations will solve the problems of education.

REAL LIFE SITUATION OF STUDENTS AND TEACHERS

You young children are in the midst of this chaos. You were born after the liberalization of the economy started picking up the speed, when the slow economic growth rate was the thing of past. In our book Indian 2020 the national exercise, which was done during 1994-95, there were persons who opposed assumption of 6-7% growth of GDP, being very unrealistic. But it is a thing of past. You can soon see 10% growth of GDP.

Most of your teachers would have been born around 1980’s. They would have been entering teenage or just getting out of their tens during 1991. They have seen some glimpses of the scarcity of the past.(Forget our generation born around 1947 we grew up in scarcity, rationing, long waiting lists for years for a phone or scooter, very limited choices even for clothes and shoes, not TV etc). The teachers have seen the growth and would have more of hope that things can really change in India.

But even the teachers now would have been overtaken by the GLOOM-of corruption, of power politics, of terrible uncertainties even for admitting their children to schools, colleges, sky rocketing cut off marks etc.

At the same time all of you, - teachers and students-enjoy many material goods too; you have so many choices. Of course, you have stress of competition and uncertainties. You ALSO FEEL THE SUFFERING BY COMPARISION WITH OTHERS who have better clothes, better shoes, cell phones, better two wheeler, cars or houses etc.

Yes, you are at a situation of GREAT CHURNING OF INDIAN SOCIETY. On one side, there appear to be a whole lot of new opportunities for growth, better lives, greater freedom of choices etc. on the other side, you see many UNCERTAINTIES, constantly changing “rules of the game” favoring the rich and powerful, increasing price rises knocking down some of your dreams, and also media feeding you with mostly bad news; the one or two hypes of national ICONS, they project for sometime FALL DOWN badly! Also poverty figures seem to be increasing!! I don’t want to add to your miserable feeling by quoting you statistics as to now India performs in global comparison, in trade, S&T, industry; innovation, business friendliness or agricultural production.

Do you have a HOPE in future of India? (Ask the audience)

Do you have a HOPE for YOUR OWN GOOD FUTURE? (Ask the audience)

WHAT CAN I SAY TO YOU?

“Don’t worry, India will become a developed country by 2020. All your worries will disappear!”

Will you believe me, if I just assert in loud voice?! (Ask the audience!)

We have only NINE MORE years to go. What is said in the 25 reports of TIFAC or the book is not wrong. The conclusions were derived from more than 5000 experts. The book has described WHAT CAN INDIA DO RELAISTICALLY. But is required several highly disciplined hard work to develop internal strengths-as was done by Japan, Korea, Israel, Singapore, Taiwan or China for two decades or more. A lot has been achieved over the past twenty years since liberalization-that is the reason you teachers, students and parents are here in a much better situation than during the 1980’s. But lots of the actions were one-off type, shallow, or quick fixes.

To develop strengths in technology, business, economy, society, knowledge sectors, security sectors etc, a lot of actions HAVING DEPTHS are required. Big trees have long roots-going very deep! Remember this simple law of life.

Do we still have hope of India playing its legitimate role in the world; in economy, trade, S&T, arts, music, literature, culture, politics, sports, media, agriculture, ecological stabilization, innovation, enterprise military etc?...

Come on…… reply….

My answer is YES, provided that the younger generation including those in the teachers’ generation, are ready to break many mindsets which have seeped into the system. We all know these old clichés don’t work, but still keep “mouthing” them, thus making the whole nation hypocritical.

EXAMPLE OF HYPOCRITICAL MINDSETS AND APPROACH FOR RIGHT ATTITUDES

1.   Political career is for service to people and sacrifice of one’s own life

     Â·This is hypocrisy now. May have had truth at the time of independence.

Right approach is to say:

   Â·Political career is like any other career. Those who like it may take it up. The national system should be such as to enable such persons also to live a good life by ethical, legal means.

2.   Wealth generation is not good. Profit making is a sin! Give away all that to the poor as a social service.

·This is hypocrisy

Right approach is:

       Â·Generating wealth by legal means is good for the country, for creating employment in the country, to contribute to public good of the society through paid         taxes.

       Therefore those who are desirous of more wealth may enter into such careers, including becoming entrepreneur.

       While philanthropy is good, out of wealth earned by individuals, no society can live on philanthropy alone. Society has to learn to create reasonable income             earning opportunities for all and also give opportunities to people to enhance their skills to earn more.

       YES, all of you, especially the young persons, do not repeat the same mistakes of the past. Learn form some good experience. But do not load yourselves with       unachievable apparently nice sounding phrases of the past.

3.   Don’t get into the ICON praising mode: each one of you has great strengths in your own way. Bring them out. Learn to respect yourselves. There need to be no leader no follower. It should be a TEAM of different individuals with different types of capabilities. The common goal should be to finish the tasks at hand efficiently, in time. That should be the BINDING FORCE, DISCIPLINING force. I had used a word “Indian-time-rate-interaction “just like Hindu growth rate, in my paper on Administrative Reforms. As a country we are very slow in decision making, even if all agree. It takes 7 years to take up a good idea. This has to change. It is a FAST world. Windows of opportunities are for 2-3 years. You MISS IT, IT IS GONE. So TIME is important.

OTHER IMPORTANT NEW OUTLOOKS REQUIRED ARE

1.   Centralization kills initiative India is a huge country. Even now, it is a huge economy; if it grows fast, it will be VERY HUGE. So work for decentralization, delegation trust between persons should be major role of governance. Of course, all these within the framework of well defined work packages (which are discussed in TEAMS and later, after decision, adhered to as a discipline. No CHEATING I WORK PLEASE!

2.   All India uniformity is a myth. In the past 64 years, this concept has caused major havoc with our society, economy, education, politics, law etc.

INDIA’s greatest strengths lie in its DIVERSITY. Make laws, administration, education etc to capture the strengths of DIVERSITY. India will grow stronger. Local empowerment strengthens the real India concept.

3.   Globalization per se is not bad. We should learn how to capture its opportunities for our own advantages as some countries have done. Remember what I said about TIME AND SPEED of decision making and action a little before. This demands SPEED IN ACTIONS, AGILITY, QUICKER DECISION MAKING, LARGE AMOUNT OF DELEGATION WHILE COORDINATING HUGE PROJECTS etc.

We should learn how to blend GLOBALIZATION with LOCAL NEEDS. This is called GLOCALIZATION.

There cannot be one GLOCALIZATION MODEL for India, because it is diverse. So adopt flexible approach. It is a beautiful form of INTERDEPENDENCE: on the world, on local areas, etc, but with a strong INDIA emerging out of it.

4.   Education should be uniform for all-is the big hoax we delivered on the society-in the processes controlled EDUCATION, Rationed the available opportunities. Also we tried to fix many square plugs into circular holes.

Let us realize each one of us have different capabilities-often multiple-but not the same.

Let students, elders etc learn different curricular contents in language, maths, science, art, handwork, skills etc.

 

Let us give opportunity to at least 50% of our people to study 3 to 4 years beyond 10+2 and even more. (HIGHER EDUCATION). They need not study continuously; they can work and do or do after some discontinuity, by distance methods etc.

But all should learn more & more of-what they want; what can help them in their lives. So the educational system should be MODULAR with various options.

Other 50% of persons who do not go for higher education also should have opportunities for various economic & social skills and also go for higher education later in their lives.

5.   Do not divide science and Humanities. Let there be a mix.

6.   Do not discard Indian languages, thinking that they are useless for modern social and economic life. WRONG. If you are only doing “Copy Cat” OR “low value work given by foreign countries”, you are partially correct. But any creative work in law or science or engineering or politics or medicine or security etc require innovative thinking-originality. Originality can come only through IMAGINATION. Remember what Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Imagination comes mainly through the Culture: the myths, mythologies, folklore, tribal cultures etc of the society. Language embeds them.

Therefore, if you want to be innovative in a world scale, if you want to be world class, in addition to English, master one Indian Language. Not just to be literate-but to be capable of enjoying its literature-past and present.

7.   Respect Science and technology. Its logical, rational and experimental methods. Do not reduce it to a MAGIC. No technology or medicine can be 100% faultless.

8.   Internet search is not end of all of knowledge. Not the SMS, YES, NO, I DON’T KNOW surveys. It is much deeper. Critical and creative thinking is required.

9.   Internal security against terrorism, extremism and vandalism are critical. As also external SECURITY. India cannot afford to be a SOFT STATE, as it is now – a target of so much violence. We have to be tough; have TOUGH laws.

10.  Above all think about your fellow Indians-about 700 million underprivileged. Don’t give them doles but help them to be independent earner, as it said is Bible. Teach them ‘FISHING, Don’t give ‘FISHES and forget them later! Also what Prophet Mohammed has said, Tell them “Be learned or, Be a learner or, Be a listener or else, Be of help to the above”. Solutions are not UNIFORM. Remember Gandhiji: “Vaishnava janato tene kahiye jey peed parayee jaane re!” Empathize with others; customize the solutions.

I can say more-You can add more by FRONTALLY capturing what is told to you and by critically analyzing them. This does not mean disrespect to the elders or peers. It is a search for TRUTH, which is how this great Indian civilization was built up.

ECOLOGY AND NATURE

In addition to several elements I had mentioned earlier, all of you-teachers and children assembled here and who are elsewhere in India, are specially going to face a great real challenge which was not seriously met during the fast 64 years.(Sins of the past have accumulated and may visit on you).

I had at the beginning of this talk, mentioned about the slow evolutionary process of human beings getting speeded up during 20th century. But now all of humanity, which is now, about five times the population of 1950’s, is all aspiring to draw from Nature.

Is it sustainable? Well one can fight with developed countries to reduce their consumption of energy, resources and food.

Even in our country the 100 million rich and 400 million middle class persons will resist sacrificing their consumption for the sake of 700 million underprivileged.

But even so NATURE is not going to wait. Resources are depleting; be it coal or water or uranium. Even while maintaining the geopolitical fights with the developed countries in different forums. India and Indians will benefit very much, if we find alternate standards of living which will reduce wastage, reduce over chemicalisation, reduce energy consumption. It may mean different standards of products, habitats etc; of different standards of living, not the one quality blared out in television.

YES, this is a great challenge conceptually. There may not be equality in purely numbers’ game of how many units of electricity, steel, etc consumed. But still a good life with a different perspective. India is still surviving and growing in a competitive world, because our people willy-nilly have adopted different standards out of necessity (because they can’t afford). It requires a lot real thinking and use of S&T not the “copy cat” of west or developed world, but real original thinking. You can do it.

Can we give a scientific, rational and emotionally balanced view of these? Not to push a class of people in slums but an integrated society with different types of CONSUMPTION.

This is challenge, you will understand after a few years from now.

IN THE END

You have a great life before you, if you are ready to throw away the earlier mind sets, discover new ones with a good dose of pragmatism.

You can take India and Indian people into a new direction. That will give fuller Independence to you and to all of them- and to India. Then India will be respected and perhaps loved by all the people of the world. It can be one of the great places in the world to live.

ARE YOU READY? You make your own INTERNAL RESOLVE.

Let me read an extract from my book “A-Z for Success: A comparison for Youth” p.161

Quote: Ignite

There is an ignition key for the car. A space launch is ignited for lift off... Unfortunately a bomb is ignited to explode!

You should ignite your mind for better causes, better goals ...not for destruction, hatred.

Instead of ‘igniting’ your passion, your energy against somebody or against something, ‘ignite’ it for something positive including success defined in a positive manner. Yes, you have to ignite your mind, to release the energy. All of us carry with us lots of energy inside us. It remains inert, and unmoving like an unignited car or rocket or launch vehicle. Once ignited it lifts off or speeds up.

Don’t wait for others to ignite you. You may hear best people or read about them or their writings or see them.

But let me tell you, self-ignition is the best ignition Unquote.

 

Jai Hind

15th August 2011