When you leave the stuffy confines of Delhi, you realize how disconnected the political prophets, sitting in their studios and living rooms, are from the many moods and perceptions of an India beyond those man-made boundaries. Unfortunately, the spirit of an energetic people has consistently been assaulted by anarchic and selfish governance, perpetuated by a lazy, corrupt bureaucracy and a political class that have ceased to act in accordance with the tenets of the Constitution. This is true across all spheres of activity and has drowned every positive intervention in a sea of negatives.
The growth of urban India is a living symbol of all that is wrong with our thinking and planning. If there is a blueprint, no one in authority adheres to it because no one is ever accountable to the State. All laws, regulations and norms of decent functioning are abused. Except the babus and their bosses, no one is spared the rot that has entered our lives. For a civilization celebrated for age-old ‘planned’ cities — unearthed through excavations, that had elaborate sewage systems and other such organized infrastructure for citizens to live in dignity, at a time when countries of the West were lagging far behind — it is a shame to see the urban devastation that has polluted the public space in modern, post-Independence India.
Government agencies have failed the people of this nation state. There is no excuse for the inordinate chaos and corruption. Garbage collection and its dispersal — as one small example of the civic duty of governments anywhere in the world — have been a disaster in India. Drains remain open and are the breeding grounds of diseases that were, till recently, eliminated in the country. We worship and invoke the river Ganga, perform a daily aarti, and at the same time, pollute her. The hypocrisy is palpable.
Our sages of the past, intellectuals of their age, had worked out the rules of conservation, protection, administration and governance from which creative growth could rise and be nurtured to maturity. We have, in the last 66 years, ripped apart all our inherent strengths as a people and civilization.
This maybe because those who rule us today are uninitiated in the realities of the historical past, uneducated in the realities of an information age and the present times, and are unable, therefore, to make the substantive move forward to regain India’s special place on this planet. We have abdicated our intellectual morality to the mediocrity of Western cultures as we aspire to be something we are not. Indian women in Western gowns are a caricature and look as if they are confused about themselves. Women in saris, in contrast, come across as being confident in their skin. This analogy goes for virtually everything around us, from dress and gear, to homes and interiors, to architectural fantasies and names of gated colonies and more. What we have truly mastered is how to clone an alien ethos. It defines a lazy mind and inept ‘leadership’.
Jodhpur, on the edge of the Thar desert and, therefore, always in need of water, its collection and conservation, is being destroyed by mining in catchment areas on the outskirts of a town, which had traditional water-bodies to take care of the citizens. What prompts chief ministers to allocate mining rights in the wrong areas? Is it sheer greed or is it stupidity? For the citizens of India, it is plain and simple corruption and zero enforcement of the laws of India.
A new-generation India will not tolerate this assault on the country. The fuse is getting shorter by the hour. There is a yearning for a strong leader, not an arrogant dictator. India wants a liberal leadership that will facilitate the entrepreneurial spirit that rests in all Indians.