The poor want to become less poor, not poorer. Why insult those men, women and children who have been exploited by the lack of infrastructure, a disregard for their inherent skills, and the neglect of their habitat and environment? Successive governments have perpetrated these horrors upon them by their complete and unforgivable failure to deliver the basic human necessities, thereby putting them on dole. Creating a framework in which rural artisans and urban entrepreneurs can create wealth and have access to infrastructure through which they can market their products is necessary to bring about good governance and a healthy economic state. Are we entering a new phase of change and development in India?
For decades, men and women in power were attracted to plastic baubles of the West. These included manmade fibres, which flooded the market and snuffed out the fine, hand-woven fabrics of India, the concrete, glass and chrome that dwarfed traditional scientific buildings, as well as the alien norms of city-planning and development that destroyed India by reducing grand urban habitats into slums. The last quarter of the last century was witness to a cultural destruction that disregarded every indigenous form. There was a profound desire to copy and clone what Western nations were selling to poorer countries. The Indian leadership and its band of babus tried to superimpose these ideas on what once was a stunning landscape.
During the 1990s, our rulers adopted a wholly alien diktat that came to us from our new ‘masters’, who had replaced the colonial rulers. They used a new and potent weapon, the ‘loan’ dispensed from a far away land, that throttled this nation by compelling it to abide by a list of commandments. There was no one at the helm of the government who believed in the amalgamation of the two streams in an effort to create a model that would be organic to the DNA of this sprawling subcontinent and its extraordinary and multi-layered civilization.
The last quarter of the last century had given birth to a motley group of national leaders, who sought to fulfil their personal demands instead of working hard to build a strong and proud India. Their mantra was at stark variance from that of those who had fought to free the country from colonial subjugation and liberate its profound spirit. Sadly, this ‘spirit’ continued to be repressed, the nation’s patience exploited and its philosophical persona, infused with centuries of history and experience, battered, this time by its own, elected leaders. The country wallowed in neglect and despair. Values were diluted and the physical environment assaulted.
Today, we have a policy that was unveiled through the budget speech of the finance minister who brought to the forefront the strengths of this country that had been relegated to the periphery. Vast numbers of men and women with inherent skills that the world celebrates, were, over the last many decades, virtually dismissed from the ‘mainstream’ of change and development by the architects of the ‘loan’ and its commandments who enjoyed the insular comforts offered by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We should have learnt to use these interventions to our advantage and not succumb to inappropriate pressures and heavy-handed tactic.
This stranglehold of the countries that disburse ‘loans and aid’ on the economically weaker nations was becoming untenable. A new generation now wants to break loose to meet the larger, collective aspirations. Sadly, economic powers do not want ‘competition’ and will continue to selfishly protect their own turf.