Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Things holding India back from being a developed nation - 2

Before I continue with my next post, I must apologize for making you wait for such a long time. The problem is that my computer has conked off and I am yet to get replacement for the parts which have gone bad.

Today, I continue my effort to explain my take on why India has not yet crossed the line, though it is standing on it for years.

My next grievance is - Poverty and Illiteracy.

Yes, both are mammoth problems. But I feel they are interlinked. If illiteracy is eliminated, I feel poverty will be eliminated automatically. Even after 60 years of independence, there are more than a third of uneducated people in India. This is a shame - given the amount of (supposed) interest every government shows to this sector. Crores of rupees are allocated every year for education - both primary and higher. However, this money is not always translated to results on the ground. We still have schools functioning under trees, without benches and tables, without toilets and with only one teacher for the entire school

Given these facts, it is not surprising that the drop out rate is very high. Parents who see that such schools don’t add any value to their living, often put their children to work. What is going wrong? Why are we not able to convince parents that education is the only panacea for eliminating poverty? The government, which is in the best possible position to help, is least interested. It's ministries are busy passing the buck - you ask the education minister and he tells that there is a lack of funds; you ask the finance minister and he tells that he is ready to release more funds only when he is satisfied that the money already given is put to good use and so on. Ultimately, the grand schemes announced just remain on paper with no one taking the onus of taking it forward. The best these politicians can do is divide us among the lines we don’t want them to (read - reservations based on castes in education) for their votes.

With this being the reality, expecting our children to compete on the global scene in this globalised world is just out of question. This is the primary reason why we often keep hearing that there is a demand-supply gap for skilled workers in all professions. Unless we achieve significant levels of literacy, it will be impossible for us to become a developed nation. All the gains we have made so far, say in science, IT or telecom domains will dwindle and go to our competitors if we don’t have a steady supply of talented professionals.

I feel that we citizens can make a huge difference in this particular aspect. There are hundreds of schools which are in need of teachers, infrastructure, books etc. It would be great if we can help these schools, and it doesn’t take much - some amount of time and maybe a small amount of money. We must know that every drop counts.

The next one in my list is Poverty - arguably the biggest pain for most of the people in this country. Even after 60 years of independence, it is a shame that more than a third of our population is living below the poverty line. Lakhs of people don’t have enough food, clothing and absolutely nothing to make a living. Their lives are filled with miseries; lack of education and large families have made them so. Often they suffer from some or the other disease and with little medical help, their life expectancy is low. True, India's life expectancy as a whole has increased - but when we break it down, we see that for BPL (Below Poverty Line) people, there is hardly any change.

Here again, the government has done a pathetic job. Most of the schemes it announces remain on paper. No one knows the whereabouts of the crores of rupees allocated to these schemes. Best example was the recent Vidharba episode. The PM himself visited the area after a spate of farmer suicides and announced a 2000+ crore package. He later toured it again only to find that there was absolutely no change in their lives!! As a result, the suicides continue. There is no one to help these poor farmers.

The people who suffers the most from poverty are the children. The parents, who cannot support themselves, let alone their children, often use their kids for some additional income. Hence, for the child, education is a distant dream.

I am hard pressed for a solution in this aspect - the investment needed is enormous. The change has to be sweeping and radical. Only the government with its massive reach and money can make the difference.

God knows when the people ruling us will wake up! Right now, they remember the poor only when there is some election round the corner - And even during these times, they don’t contribute anything concrete. They lure them by giving money (which they don’t know how to manage) and liquor (which ruins them even more). So, until these politicians do something concrete, you will find many people like me who keep cribbing :)

However, I have a request to make - recently, I met a person (in fact, he is a software engineer) who is doing a lot of social work and is running an initiative called Youth for Seva. Please visit their web site - youthforseva.org. I leave it to you, as to how you can contribute.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My birthday 6th august

My birthday 6th August
Yes, at last, today is 6th august 2007. For some, this might be a black letter day because it was on this day 62 years ago that the disastrous Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb blasts took place.
But for me, it is a red-letter day, because it is my birthday. Don’t mind me if I get a little retrospective .I thought I was old enough to pen down my thoughts. I am officially 18 years old now. How I wish I could just be born and relive the happy moments in life!!! Since that is impossible I have to stick with being an adult now.
Since I am an adult now, I have a lot of privileges. I can find my name on the voters list and help India get a better administration. Wow! That’s too much too much for a kid like me.! I can get my drivers license and help my country by becoming a good rider and by avoiding accidents.
I can find myself in places like discothecs, which any next-door teenage girl like me would love to go.
I can even get married or elope! Which is awful because I hate even the m of marriage.
I might have grown older but I have become wise too. I am not cherubic like I was before. I have learnt to start appreciating even the un- noticeable things in life. I have become more sensitive when it comes to certain personal issues like friends, family etc.
I have been in the good books of most of my teachers (I have got into deep trouble with some) and many of my friends. I have got myself in the bad books with some of my friends in the past. It is a pretty dramatic story, that which cannot be revealed.
But I have never regretted that incident. Infact I have learnt from it. I have realized that I cannot expect all my friends to be of the same mentality I am.
Then after, a few years later, I have made new friends and understood them better. I have also not remained the same anymore . I have improved on my behavior, made new friends and many acquaintances also. I have learnt from my mistakes and I am very much ready to make new ones.
This birthday is special, not just because of the gifts and phone calls from my well wishers. It is because I have a lot of memories, which I have lived and cherished unlike other birthdays.
This year I have gone through a lot of personal problems. Lost hope, lost self-confidence. But as I learnt to battle them one by one, things seemed to be a lot better. When I look back, I see that it was not the worst problem I have faced after all!!!
In spite of my difficulties, I have done pretty well in my board exams. I managed to score 96%, a centum in maths, which felt like a cherry on top of a pie. I received a lot of appreciation from my family and friends for achieving this feat.
Guess what,“sphurti is a child prodigy” well, how does that sound? No, I am just saying that. One need’nt have to be a child prodigy to prove that they are intelligent. I am proud of myself, as I have been academically very good in my entire life. I have won many school awards for my academic excellence. I have won a scholarship of national level general knowledge competition. I am good in sports too. Besides that, I love to dance. I have received a lot of appreciation for the stage show I had performed once amongst many other competitors.
I have never done any pretentious act of valor. My family has never told me that they are proud of me. But, somewhere in my heart, I feel that they are already proud of me and of what I have achieved so far!!!
I guess we all grow up pretty soon eh!? Now, I can never go back to being born again and reliving the happiest moments of my life so far.
I can never go back to being a kid again. Ah!!! How much I miss those days!
Nevertheless, life goes on and we have to learn to live with it. We have to accept everything that comes in our way as we don’t know what we are destined to become.
Always show unconventional love and passion towards what you are doing. Don’t ever get intimidated by others success. I encourage myself to become envious of others because it helps me improve myself by acquiring the qualities, which I lack. By doing this it helps me become a better person.
I have a lot of responsibilities. High hopes are pinned on my back. It becomes my responsibility to live up to their expectations.
I have learnt that no matter where life takes me, I shall always be strong. I hope to become someone someday and be more useful than what I am now.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Things holding India back from being a developed nation

In a series of posts, I intend to present my take on why India is unable to take the next big step and announce its entry into the world's elitest nations; Why are we in a situation which is very alike to "So near, yet So far"; Your comments, criticism, encouragement are most welcome!!

1. Corruption - Corruption is, by far the biggest ill that our country faces. From a college peon to a minister, only money makes them sing. Taking bribe has become a part of a government official's duty. There are instances where bribe was taken and deadly criminals were let off; Crores of rupees worth of items are illegally siphoned off after paying bribes; Drugs which are intended to be given freely to the poor are being sold in open markets; The food grains which are intended to be rationed among the BPL people is being sold in open markets; And not paying bribes resulted in gross neglect and inaction in hospitals which have taken poor peoples' lives.

These and hundreds of other instances show that corruption is our biggest enemy.

My heart bleeds. It asks, Why is corruption such a big menace? Cant something be done about it? Isnt there someone who can put in some basic moral values into these people?

The answer is a flat NO. Noone has the courage to do it. The mafia behind them is so strong that no person who has the power to punish is ready to take the risk. This was evident when Justice Venkatachala was the Lok Ayuktha of Karnataka. He caught hundreds of corrupt officers red handed. Unfortunately not even 1% of them were punished. The government was clearly unwilling to play ball and invite the ire of govt officials who form an important vote bank. Justice Venkatachala was promised suo moto powers to prosecute by 3 CM's. But the promise remained on paper. They knew they had made a mistake by placing a man who wanted to bring a change at the top. This was evident when they didnt want to give him a second term.

Most of us must have realised by now that we can take the next big step towards being a developed nation only when this ill called corruption is nipped from the root. My eyes are eager to see someone come in - one who is not afraid to do the right things; One who doesnt care to lose his position by doing the right thing; One who takes stern action against those who hold this country at ransom and are preventing it from becoming a true superpower.

(This series will continue; Please stay tuned for my following posts)

I have applied for the TOI's lead India campaign. I urge my readers to apply also. We should want to be this someone. For long, we have waited to witness change. Now that it is not happening, we must take the lead. The future is in our hands.