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India at 65: Hopeful, Impatient and Unsure

August 18, 2012

This August the 15th, India’s independence day saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh again give a speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort. The speech was insipid, as such speeches usually are notwithstanding Mamohan’s talent for making most interesting things look routine. The speech and  the independence day celebrations went off as usual. If the political class sensed a difference in the mood of the people they did not show it as such. But then the people of India are changing and evolving as the world around them is. They have not been left untouched and it would be foolish for anyone to expect them to.

The world has shrunk like never before in the history of humankind. The ease of communication across the globe, the exchange of news and developments from lands far and wide, their standards of living,, culture and life in general has seen people question their own surroundings. The truth of the matter is that India and Indians are changing at a very rapid pace. They want the best in life and nothing less will do.

There is a sense of hope. The hope of a better future lies somewhere in their confidence in their own self. Indians do not lack in confidence. It is opportunities that they are looking for. The 65% youth under the age of 35 believe in themselves. They know they can compete with the very best. What they are looking for is a chance to prove themselves. They have also realized that their passport to a brighter future where they have a secure well paying job, a comfortable lifestyle with basic luxuries of life like a house, car and basic gadgets which they demand as a right lies in meaningful education.  The fruits of growth at a phenomenal rate till not so long ago has seen them have a taste of success. A flurry of infrastructural growth, roads, multi-storied housing projects, fancy malls and retail boom has them craving for all and more. This generation has tasted the good things in life. They can’t wait. This is an impatient generation. They want everything here and now.

The problem is that the same media and social networking sites that are a window to the world outside also tells them that the nation is being looted by the political class like never before. They are informed about muti-billion dollar graft which they resent. Some good Samaritans educate them as to how their lives would change were this rampant corruption checked. They respond with fervor, till they realize that the good Samaritans themselves have political ambitions and fighting corruption is just a means to an end – which is  political triumph. A disillusioned nation sets them aside.

But hope is the elixir of life. A Swami enters informing them again of the massive graft. Again they raise the banners and rally around the man. Their impatience creeps in again. This is a generation that is looking for someone who could set things right. This is an unsure generations looking for answers they find elusive. This is a generation that wants to change everything around them and find chained by the system that does not give them a free hand. They saw in a young man from UP hope and they voted him to power. They had a lot of expectations. He had a lot of promises. They gave him a chance and have regretted their decision. He is no different from his father they found to their utter horror.

India at sixty five is a young India, in terms of a nation and demographically. The youth is dynamic. Their energies need to be channelized. Their aspirations need to be met. If they are let down time and time again, the unbridled energy of the youth of India will burst open in a volcano of rage. The political class is unable to address their aspirations. The present government has done little of note to make sure the growth trajectory of the nation is maintained. If the growth is stunted there will be want and need and this could lead to a very ugly situation. India needs to create at least 10 million new jobs every year. As Hu Jintao, the Chinese premier said, Mao is irrelevant, it is reforms that are needed. The government needs to take hard decisions. The government needs to understand that if they fail the youth of this country, they will not be forgiven. Never before in the history of India was economics as important to politics as today. The next general elections are just 20 months away. There is still time to redeem the situation. Indian economy is on a cusp  of change. Indian economy has the capacity to explode in ways that can transform the nation in no time. Indians know this and can wait no longer.

It is not as if the political class is oblivious to the reality. They are. some states like Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh that have had impressive growth. Chief Ministers are throwing around growth figures to show they are serious about the future of the people of this country. They better be, because if they are not then they will be history in this dynamic nation. Gimmicks like giving mobile phones to people impress no one. They want real jobs and a secure paycheck at the end of the month. They have seen others around the world do well and they want the same. The will of the common Indian to get to their goal of a better life, a secure life and a life of dignity is just too great for anyone to even contemplate coming in their way. It is for the political class to ensure that the dreams of the average Indian are realized. If they fail, they will be writing their own political obituary.

Addendum

Just a word about this new-found hope. People have realized the importance finance in life. The old cliche of poor being the good guys and the rich being the bad no longer holds good. People have also realized that to be happy in life one has to have certain basics and anything less makes life miserable. Poverty, misery and wretchedness are glorified no longer. Money does ensure a comfortable lifestyle and that is a must for a happy life. People are no longer apologetic about doing well in life. Slowly, being poor is getting frowned upon. That is not to say that Indians have suddenly become greedy but a realization has set in that a stable income is a must for a happy life.  And when they are denied this basic they tend to get impatient and begin to question the system. These are not just aspirations but hard felt realities of life. And the system must deliver.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2012 4:46 pm

    I liked your point about how Manmohan Singh makes even the most inspiration speech sound very routine. 🙂 Although funny, it is a very thought provoking and profound statement. Here is a person who represents more than a billion people but cannot talk like a leader and often a mute spectator and behave like a puppet in the hands of the ‘Gandhi’ family. Well coming back to your points about corruption and youth and people’s impatience with issues like these, I think the attitude of the people that the law for others have to change. Which means that corruption at the people touch points at the grass root has to be eliminated. A person who claims that all politicians are corrupt, police are corrupt, system is corrupt, does not mind to pay a bribe to get his or her child a school admission, does not mind paying a bribe to go ahead of a few people to get a darshan in a busy temple, does not mind paying a bribe or breaking law in buying a property and paying the right amount of tax… Recent times I have been through a lot – Got a school admission by following all the rules and bought a house by following all the rules. As simple as these two sounds, it was a heck of a deal to do these without having to be on the wrong side of the law.

    • August 18, 2012 6:55 pm

      Yes, it helps to follow the law. Its difficult at times but surely worth the trouble. It is also about the aspirations of people and how their expectations are huge and must be recognized.

    • Arun Bhagat permalink
      August 24, 2012 10:16 am

      Goks, I agree it must have been tough to get things done in d right manner, without paying a bribe. But the point is — you did it and many more people are doing it! why? Coz deep down we all want to do the right thing. The system must change to make it easier to do the right thing ! that is the whole point.

  2. Paul Clausen permalink
    August 18, 2012 9:52 pm

    Informative and interesting write-up!

  3. Paul Clausen permalink
    August 19, 2012 3:17 am

    Yes, I can somewhat. There are similar threads all across the world the main reason being that the world has shrunk like never before, as pointed out by you in the write-up. In the US there has been a ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest to raise a voice against disparity of income and wealth. The protest was mainly against corporate greed and corruption not so much in the political arena rather in the financial sector.

    • August 19, 2012 8:21 am

      Yes, largely that is the idea, except while Occupy Wall Street protesters were critical of massive profits by large corporations, here that is not the issue. They want to be a part of the growth story and refuse to be left behind. They want to become another Rockefeller, Tata or a Bill Gates. They have dreams in their eyes which they believe are within their grasp. Its amazing and very encouraging.

      • Paul Clausen permalink
        August 21, 2012 11:45 am

        Truly amazing! given the right political and economic climate, India is poised for further growth..

  4. Arun Bhagat permalink
    August 24, 2012 10:26 am

    Your write-up is full of lines i would love to quote. “Never before in the history of India was economics as important to politics as today.” so true. Sometimes i wish the corporate giants should form their own party and contest election. They will definitely do a better job of running the country!!!! 🙂

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