Sunday, July 1, 2012

To Bridge That Divide..

The world is a beautiful place. It is a very lovely place to love in, to be present in, to explore, to see and to have fun! It is made of many wonders, many marvels and many beauties to visit and admire. It is the natural beauty and untouched freshness and energy that makes us alive, and pursue our goals an objectives each day, with newer and better enthusiasm. It is indeed a lovely world we have all around us!!

It is true that any place can be a paradise to live in if we want to make it. If we keep faithful towards nature, or the environment, our surroundings, our fellow people, our fellow known and unknown ones, any place can be a heaven to live in.

On the contrast, any place can be hell, a underground shadowed place where people only want to push other people down, an go upward, where no one cares about anyone else, where people don;t matter to others, where care and love towards others is not as equal and lovely as it is for something we wrong and funnily claim to be ours. it is will be a bad world we will live in, if this happens.

Life can be exactly what we chose it to be, it can a bed of flowers if we want there to be flowers for everyone around us, for everyone, and it can be a barren, dry land if we look only in our 'supposed ' belongings and not care for others.

Today, we are a booming period of invention and discovery. the time we are living in is a very blessed era, where constant innovation is happening all around us, newer ideas and tricks are being generated every second, happiness and joy are given and received ever moment even as we read this.

Every day, new and better technology makes our lives better and more convenient. We can easily do tasks like watching a match at the very time it is happening some 1200 kms away!! We can read what another person has said, or read, or written or seen from one corner of the world!! But that is old news!! 
These days, we can read signposts and notices written in a foreign language in a mater of seconds, without ever knowing the language only by pointing our smart phones to it (with the internet on) and see how it suddenly turns the foreign script into our known or preferred language and that after keeping the entire background and screen the same as it was. (Augmented Reality or AR Apps) 
We can point our smartphone cameras to any object, and in moments there will be huge mountain of information about it, it's features, it's past, present and future, etc. (Bar-code Readers, etc.)
 We are today on the barrage of development, of times when the world is going forward every day we see something wonderful and amazing happen mostly things that were impossible with yesterday's technology and resources. 

But How do you measure development? Is it when I have more money than I had 10 years back? Or by the luxuries and comforts available to the people relatively?

Yes, we have today come a long way, a really long way! But Have we really come all this way forward as we claim to be? We claim that we are now a better place and a better world to live in, but are we? We pride in living in lands where the economies grow at high rates, where the people who were till yesterday only thinking of doing something have managed to do them. 

But have we really come that far? Have we really progressed as much as we think we have, or as much as we suppose to?

As much as money we have made, have we been able to reduce the number of people who go to bed every night starving? As much as we have made our lives easier, have we reduced the burden of economically backward people who sleep each day without food in their stomachs? Have we, after having so much, even done anything to give them an assurance of a full meal for even a single day? 

Today, We live a country where all seems well. People are fattening with food and finance each day and  prosperity seems to be our esteemed guest for one too many times. 

There are People have so much that they don't know how to spend it, so much they don't even know what to do with it, on whose whims and fancies the majority of the other employees seem to be working. These people dictate the industries, spear-head the initiatives to throw parties and gatherings for any excuse, and above all who demand a lot and don't hold themselves accountable either to law & order or to the people.  

Yet, there are people also who still cannot ensure fulfilling their bare-minimum daily requirements, people who cannot be assured of getting basic minimum resources, those who cannot really use the little they have for the concern that it is the more and more that they need. They work very hard every day, labour day-in and day-out but still cannot make their situation better. 

IN all, Today there seems to be gap, or a divide in the people of our society. We seems to be a crak in our oneness and unity. On one hand, we have one set of people who are highly privileged and can have everything, anything they cherish or desire, and on the other hand we have people who don't have access to basic facilities like housing, clothes and health, food, clean water, education, and equality. Also there are people who have features of both, to some extents, and do suitably well for themselves. 

We are developing, growing but we seem to be doing so only for the first category of people, and to a lesser extent the third category. The ultra-savvy people who have access to everything in the world, are getting more and more power, are accumulating more and more for their innumerable wants, leave apart their needs. And yet we have people who cannot afford full basic meals a day, who cannot even cover their bodies at night during cold waves and take solace in the coolness of shade and air coolers in the hot summers.  the world  

Open the page 3 section of the daily newspaper you receive at your home daily. 
You will see that there is no dearth of people who party hard,who throw up bashes for each and every silly  reason, who celebrate for the entire night giving some hard-to-understand reason.

Then, open the newspaper to the 'City' pages which report the daily and local happenings/events in your nearest area, locality or city. You will be shocked to see the various problems, issues, tensions of the another type of people. You will come across people who survive without even 2 pieces of proper clothing on them, you will come across children who cry out their starting years, across kids who fall into carelessly uncovered manholes and bore wells, and the bureaucrats make hardly any action or effort in the situation.  

Or ou may even go to any Shopping complex, mall or any supermarket, and you will be surprised to see how many, and how well-off people are present there, shopping and joy-riding in huge numbers. And this number of people doesn't look like it will come down any time soon. Now, visit any low-lying or an economically-not-so-well-off area in your locality, and you will be even more surprised to see how many, and astonishingly people are living in inhuman conditions without any proper means of comfort, and how bad their condition actually is. If you are a traveller, you will across such sections and types of people even more, and even more frequently everywhere and all this amidst all the claims of  'The Great Indian Development'!!

You one can read in the newspapers, on the internet, in various online portals & magazines about people party wildly in various nightclubs, lounges and bars all throughout the night. A huge number of people will always be present when an event for the super-rich happens, a large number will turn up when when any special priviledges and luxuries are available. They will be present in social gatherings, functions, events, everywhere.

These days, people cannot live without air-conditioning. A moment without an air-conditioner feels like a day in a fireball, as hot as any sun or fire. We cannot live without electricity, cannot miss watching our favourite television programmes, cannot vision life without surfing the internet, and it doen't complete our day without chatting with friends.

 Yet, there are people today who live without air-conditioning for the entire day, for 7 days a week, for 30 days a month and for 12 months a year. We cam't sleep without the AC on, but these people, everyday sleep under nothing but the shelter of the night sky, in the temperatures copying those in deserts, or hot furnaces. These people work the entire day long, without any assurance of a piece of meal in the night.

Even today,after 65 years of independance the number of people below the poverty line remains the same as it were 10-15 years ago. The number of people who belonged to the depressed classes a generation or two back, remain under the same ceiling. 

Every day we read about things that impress us, that forward direction we are going in, but the same day you ignore the facts that people still die without proper shelters to live in, without adequate clothes to shield them during winters, adequate resources to keep them cool under summers, and without adequate meals to fill their stomachs every night. 

And unfortunately, this number doesn't seem to be coming down anytime soon, all credit to the planning and implementation of various schemes launched by the Govt.

There used to be social stigma in the society in the earlier times. There were divisions in the people- there were always 'special' people who were more privileged than all others and had the best of all worlds, and there were people who were depressed in all the areas and categories. 
There were people who had evrything they not could not even want, and they were people who could not even dream of ever getting even a basic and equal share of it, let alone get it in real. 
This stigma lasted for a lot of time and seems to be taking up by others, thus the times of people of different occupations, beliefs and backgrounds formed their own separate groups and clusters. 

In today's economy, apart from the higher and the depressed classes, the middle class is also growing. 
They now have more money than before. They can now go to a mall more regularly, buy the most blinking  and sparkling brands in the market, can more frequently visit the most trendy outlets, and hang out in the most favourite places. They are today, eating more and more and make all their work and daily exercise, even lesser. Also, they are getting more things done in the red-tapes and bureaucracy, now that they have more money. They have truly developed.

Another sad state of the fact is that even after we proclaim ourselves to be developing, the crime rates among the "top cities" also have't come down. This doesn't include only just the cruel and cold-blooded activities by mad-men but the very own crimes and mal-practises we commit ourselves and against our very own people. The female foetuses we kill, the female infants we murder, the discrimination we commit against a person of a lower economic strata or background, the lovers we get maimed for only loving as per their own wishes, this list of crimes goes on and on. The middle class today can spend much more, and thus ensure that all industries run in good shape, the businesses run in good shape, the economies run in good shape, and the more wealth is generated for all. 

There were economic backward people generations ages back, and there are such economically and socially backward people even today. They faced the social stigma when the nation was under foreign rule, they face the stigma even today, 65 years after we proclaim ourselves to be 'free'. In those times, there were crimes, depression an backwardness, and even now there are crimes, depression and backwardness. 

Yes, the world is very wonderful to live in today but this is a truth as much as it is a lie.  

There are a lot of problems going on, a lot of mis-deeds we are facing. But we really can defeat them, win over them, if we chose to work together and eliminate these wrongs going on in our societies.

Is it really a truth that the same economy, or the nation that only 12-16 months back looked poised to take over the mantle of the developed economies in the world, is today struggling to meet it's quartertly economic targets? 

 If we really progressed as much as we thought we had, shouldn't it have cushioned the impact of this unforeseen economic turmoil? Have we really progressed that far?

We are not alone in this war, neither are we the only country to have faced this problem. 
We aren't the only nation to witness this false perception of growth and 'supposed' development. 

This was prominent in all major economies of the world in their own formative years of progress and growth. Yes, the United Kingdom (fromerly known as The Great Britain) faced this problem a problem a lot. There were social divisions and cracks in the unity of their unions and groups. There were the same issues in the developing United States of the 1900s-1940s era, when they had to witness the great depression along with racial discrimination, high crime rates, gender disparity, and many more problems, when there were great social divides within the people. It was also prevalent during the same time in various countries like France, Germany, and many other World-War countries, whether in the form of racial discrimination, Ethnic discrimination against Jews, or disparities between feudal land-lords and cashless, landless peasants. 

But the legend of growth and development of all these countries has only been the fact that they have been able to overcome these problems with focussed efforts and continued, unending hard-work and labour. They were dealing with the same problems, they were down and injured  as well, but they came up with trong willpower and effort and were able to solve these problems to the maximum possible effects.   

Back closer to the countries and economies of Asia, the greatest example of such inclusive growth in a country is is China- the land of the Dragon. 

China was also one of the most under-developed economies during the 1900s and 1950s but they had the courage and spirit to fight these social mal-practises and evils and defeat them. China launched various initiatives and actions to bridge the existing and large divide between the rich (generally the landlords) and the poor (generally the farmers). But how did they achieve this?
China had plans, launched in the second half of the 20th century and were aimed at improving the well-being and living of the PEOPLE and especially those of the poor. What China did is really commendable and remarkable, given the fact that they have the largest population in the world now (the largest growing population in the world then). China turned their greatest weakness into their greatest weapon, by investing largely in these people. They invested in the PEOPLE, in the general public and put little investment in blinking and sparkling money-wasting projects. They did not focus on building world-record bridges, or building higher and taller skyscrapers, or by investing highly in highly advanced technology, but they simply invested in their people- their biggest asset, and trying for their development, happiness and equality. Even though the manner in which they did it it might not be feasible or favourable to all (Communism and Socialism), but what they did was truly remarkable and impressive. And today, China is the fastest growing economy of the world, and already the third-largest one (beating Germany 2 years back), behind Japan and United States. They will also soon be the most powerful world authority, and that at a time when most of the  leading world economies are struggling to maintain their positive growth rates. (China is recording nearly double-digit growth every year!!).

In India, however we are investing in the ares and sectors that may not be too profitable or beneficial. Like China, India's strength is the big population that it has. (Already the middle class is growing more!!) If an investment has to be made for the long term, it has to be in the people, their comfort and well-being. And by people I do not mean the upper elite class of the society, but rather in the economically weaker and backward ones. The rich can easily do themselves good even without govt. intervention but the depressed ones require immediate aid and assistance. If we are to really progress, we don't have to invest in the rich people and then show our increase in the national per-capita income (which will be an average of incomes of all three sections of people) but rather, we have help the lower strata of people who require and need our assistance much more.

Recently, a very prominent govt. minister launched a scheme/plan  to provide all students across all strata and types of people of the country with a computing device,complete with the latest bling and features, with high hopes that it will make them better, help them in many ways by enabling them to read and access thousands of articles and writings and information on the internet, and use various other applications. He invested heavily in technology he did not give the students what they required, but what would actually be required by a few of the well-off sections of the students.
He failed to address the fact that many people who he planned to transform from the depressed to the ultra-modern tech-savvy youths were not priveleged to have a regular  electricity connection to operate the electronic computing device and they don't have the required knowledge of operating the internet, the device and the web. They also didn't have the required finance to fund an internet connection in order to open the internet, let alone try to access it.
You simply can't give a man a sword and expect him to become an excellent marksman all by himself, can you. Rather he should have invested in education, in making all children more aware and informed about the technologies, their uses, their methods, etc. He should have invested more in plain-old traditional text-books which clear the concepts, rather than providing a distraction of online games, etc. He should develop the people, rather than give them a shiny new piece of computer which will never help them without prior an adequate knowledge. This is the same as, "Give a man a fish and he will not retire hungry that night, but teach a man how to fish and he will never sleep hungry for the rest of his life."

So, If China can, why not India? Isn't China the most populous state in the world, and despite that they have reached this stage, then we surely can do it as well!!

We are in a very critical stage of development right now. The world economy is nearing slowdown, the production growth is stagnant, the domestic sector is hesitant to any measures, the general opinion and outlook isn't very bright.

 At such times, what we need is a stable and inclusive long term economic development plan which helps us in the long run. And any such plan has to be in the most important and necessary areas of the nation, investing in the actual jewels of the country-it's people. Only when the people are stable, well-off and rightly placed, that anything else can truly grow or develop.

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