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Friday, October 16, 2009


This front-page story in The Telegraph today draws attention to one of the (numerous) reasons why I can neither be proud of today’s India nor gush over our many recent ‘achievements’, nor believe that she is going to be respected as a global leader anytime soon.

It’s not so much that half the population of India still shits in the open (but do compare the figure with China’s, which has an equally vast population, and with which, we often claim, we are nearly at par by many indices of ‘progress’) but that so many of our ‘educated’ populace either don’t know about it or don’t care, leave alone feel ashamed about, and dare to claim that we are nevertheless ‘progressing’ tremendously, witness all kinds of yardsticks like the booming IT sector and the growing number of our dollar billionaires and our prowess in cricket and NRIs winning Nobel Prizes and the sheer number of dazzling and mindless flicks churned out by Bollywood year after year…

A land where so many cannot or don’t bother to use sanitary toilets, and so many others, far better off, do not consider it a matter deserving immediate, urgent, all-out remedial action, cannot be acknowledged to be civilized, or even remotely interested in ‘progress’ of any sensible sort. And by the way, I think that this ties in quite neatly with the fact that there are so many ‘educated’ people in this country who never read a book if they can help it. These things go together in the mind, though to see the connection requires far greater cerebration than most of us are capable of, our college-degrees notwithstanding.


Archishman Sarkar said...

Respected Sir,
It is very true what you have said. Most Indians do not value cleanliness around them! Their parents never taught them to keep their surroundings clean. What these people go on about "Shining India" is almost an irony. Westernization, in India, is generally limited to clothing and entertainment , with none of west's proactive political attitude and basic egalitarianism.
Even when the problem is visible to the people...it's always an excuse with most Indians. Never a simple statement of "Yes, there is a problem. Let's rectify it.". This excuse starts at an early age, giving excuse for not doing homeworks!
Democracy is a completely ineffective tool in our hands. Having no sense of community activism, it is nearly impossible to organize them into a force that will act for a goal of common good. You have taught us to "open" our eyes and I dare say that you have been successful. And this has made me to ponder upon your writing.
Further I have noticed that Indians generally blame their poverty, illiteracy on the West (generally the British). What makes me curious is...it does not cost that much to stay clean. It just requires some civic spirit. That shouldn't have been robbed by the "west"!!
Conclusion: Its all about the attitude of the people.

Thank you so much for this blog Sir.


Sayan Datta said...

I think we are standing at such a crossroad where neither a complete overhaul of the system is possible nor is it to make any significant difference from within the system. The only way forward it seems to me is down, until we hit rock bottom and start from zero again.
As for reading, I recollect this little piece from Reader's Digest. It is of course not verbatim. An Indian lady borrowed a book from her friend and liked it so much that she could not stop herself from singing its praises before this friend of hers, when, to her surprise, the friend nonchalantly replied - Maybe I should read it too. I had bought it only because the glossy pink cover matched the colour of my dressing table.

Amusing the games children play.

Sayan Datta

Amit parag said...

To amend FDR's words "Our difficulties,damn the mob,concern everything".Having read the Foundation series recently,it looks like that we are heading towards a Seldon crisis(though it seems sometimes that 30,000 years of misery will surely follow rather than 1000 years of drudgery.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

It has been three weeks since I wrote this post, and I am sure hundreds of people have read it by now. I must interpret this deafening silence (paucity of comments) to mean only that either a) most people don't care, or b) that people are too embarrassed to admit, even to themselves maybe, that if that sort of report is right, and my comments on them are spot-on, we have absolutely no right to keep imagining that we have been making a lot of progress as a nation lately!