The Asian Age
19 August 2005
India’s caravan rolls on
- By Tarun Vijay
The first thing I received on August 15 morning was an SMS from a friend greeting me on Independence Day.
Technology has changed the way we used to celebrate festivals, and though August 15 was always a great celebration, yet getting into the usual festive mode like Holi, Id and Christmas was something we had to wait for till the SMS culture arrived. It is a great feeling indeed. We may have a thousand complaints about the way our republic seems to be functioning; yet, a feeling of moving ahead is writ large on the face of Mother India. This is nothing less than a miracle.
A thousand million people are struggling to find a new, better and respectable place under the Indian sun, and wherever I go, from Kochi to Tawang, or from Chushul to Port Blair, a new rising shows up with a sparkling beauty. Never before in our history have people moved forward so much. Technology has brought about a change in our thinking, food habits, attire and behaviour. Job profiles have undergone a sea change and earning more is becoming a habit despite the fact we did not have a Deng Xiaoping to give the clarion call.
A boy in Mumbai, originally hailing from a remote village in Karnataka, sends an air ticket to his father to visit him: this was inconceivable till recently. That’s the revolution that Air Deccan and other budget airlines have brought about. Common people, usually taking a bus to reach their destination, now feel bold enough to buy an air ticket. A recent cartoon depicted the situation well by showing a squirming "stiff upper lip" elite passenger sitting next to a villager and saying, "If this goes on I may have to think of taking the train" — so common have become things which were part of the elite domain till yesterday.
The significant factor is the urge, the strong desire to climb up. I just came to know about an interesting telephone conversation. A mother of a 13-year-old lad from a village 200 km from Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, called an Uttaranchal IT institute run under the guidance of the famed IT scientist Ashok Jhunjhunwala, to have her son admitted there.
She is not exactly a literate lady, but her son, now in his first year secondary, wants to go to a better place to study and so she is making an STD call from a tiny tribal border village. Sons and daughters of Haryana farmers and Kerala babus and Rajasthan priests are standing in queue at the US embassy for study visas, and the person who never dreamt beyond a bicycle is now riding a high-speed smart motorbike at least. First, Maruti revolutionised our roadmap for ever, for a scooterist can now afford a car to move around with his family, then came the STD booths and cellular phones. It is now an unstoppable march into an exciting future for millions of people.
And this, despite the fact that we have bad governance, lethargic and insensitive administration and an archaic judicial system, remote villages, shortage of power and a thoroughly corrupt and disoriented political set-up which works more like the local Mafia than a group of visionaries in the nation’s interest. What is important is that India has achieved all this in spite of an undesirable crowd of political leaders. So this shows an extraordinary power of resilience and inner strength of the Indian people. No nation on earth has faced so many brutalities for centuries, subjugation, destruction, loot and a contemptuous series of invasions like we have. Yet, no other nation has been able to show the power to rise again and again whether we had a great leadership or not. This can very well be expressed through the Somnath spirit after the legendary resurrection of the old temple on the western shores. It was demolished umpteen times, yet rose again and again despite all the odds working against it.
It is true, even today the odds are not few and their character too has become more damaging in the long run. Our villages are yet to see real change touching their lives. Poverty and unemployment are ever increasing, widening the gulf between India and Bharat. Our sense of nationalism is also facing a grave threat, because of a strange secularism which thrives on self-negation, humiliating everything that belongs to the civilisation of this ancient land. Terrorism is nothing but a by-product of the weakening of the sense of nationalism, and a blurred vision when it comes to defending our people. We have yet to develop a sense of respect for the Indian citizen, and the rulers — whichever class or colour — still look at an ordinary Indian national with the eyes of a British sergeant, a colonial legacy inherited and so calmly cherished by our brown sahibs.
I met a villager from the Tarai region near Nainital recently and he gave me a very illuminating insight. He said, nothing is achieved depending on these netas, as every one of them is simply concerned with one’s own safety and welfare. "Sahibji," he continued, "you are an akhbarwalla (media man), all that you publish is news about everything bad happening in the country. If you read all the bad material every day, first thing in the morning, can you have any hopes for a better future? Come to the villages, the changes occurring there will open your eyes, but you people never report that. We are moving ahead, think about yourself."
He was right. People are always complaining; but wailing gets only tears in return. But those who decide on a path, and take the first step, can hope to reach their destination some day. India is on that path, despite all odds. We will rise high if we "want" to rise high. The great RSS thinker H.V. Sheshadri, who passed away on August 14, will always be remembered for his singular contribution in rekindling a hope for the glory of India. He used to say, "Come what may, India can never be cowed down by the fissiparous tendencies we are seeing today. We have dharma with us and none can stop victory reaching us."
As Sri Aurobindo said, India’s destiny is much greater a force than these political pygmies. The collective will of the people will overcome the challenges, looking insurmountable now, when the right moment arrives. The question is: how many of us are ready for that moment? Preparation means equipping ourselves with the values and the inner strength of this civilisation. Think: where are you standing in this great surge forward, amongst the complainants or with the caravan?
Tarun Vijay is the editor of the RSS’ Panchjanya