India is a country which has >1 Billion people, >400 million middle class, rapidly growing economy, increasing quality of life for at least the middle and upper classes and is being increasingly accepted as a global player. It received an India-specific NSG exemption for nuclear trade at IAEA, Vienna last year without signing NPT and despite the efforts from China to stall this exemption. It is one of the candidates for the UNSC permanent seats. Previously, India used to be bracketed with Pakistan but now it is with China. India and China are two countries which are mentioned as the engine heads for the global economy. These are not small achievements. We should be proud about this all.
Having said that, we should not be satisfied until India becomes the country with the highest/top GDP growth, economy, political/strategic/military strength, quality of life and a place in UNSC permanent membership.
We should become a caring society whose citizens are well-mannered, utmost moral and universally regarded as decent citizens. It would be difficult but not impossible.
India would have been at a much higher position if we did not have to deal with several deficiencies/problems which have become even worse. These issues have continued to drag us down from the growth path and our destiny.
If we want to be truly a global player, we have to deal with these issues/problems.
I will outline what I think are the issues which need to be dealt with;
1. Corruption: It has become a python which is strangulating all aspects of our national life. It is very common among the bureaucrats and politicians. LOK AYUKT, Independent Commission against Corruption and Courts would have to be given wide-spread powers to deal with this problem effectively and expeditiously.
2. Lack of accountability: No body seems to understand the concept of accountability. An engineer can pass a bridge which was built with substandard material and which collapses, killing hundreds of people with hardly any penalty for the engineer. A politician can mis-spend money on parks/statues etc when people are starving and no body can effectively question that politician today in India. A doctor and lawyer do poor jobs and unlike western countries, they are not held accountable in India. We have to learn the concept of accountability and practise it.
3. Ignorance of rights and obligations concept: We may know what our rights are but not many are willing to follow the concept of obligation which goes hand in hand with the rights. Public education via mass media is required.
4. Education: We may have millions with BA, BSc or PhD but often their knowledge is confined to books only. Practical and real education is lacking. If we are indeed educated, why will we allow the criminals to win the elections and why do we vote for a candidate based on the caste/religion? Our education system and curriculum need to be reviewed. significantly increased investment must be made to improve the standards in the schools and universities. It is shameful to see that no Indian Uni is in the top 100 World Universities.
5. Poverty: We have massive poverty and see poor people everywhere. Why have we not created the employment for our people by providing practical/vocational training? Why have we not created a proper welfare system for those who can’t find employment or can’t do any job due to physical/mental incapacity? The answers are obvious.
6. Health System: We have two classes of health system. Rich people can go to private hospitals and can get the world class treatment but poor people have nothing except some vitamins and third class antibiotics from the public hospitals. They are left to die at these public hospitals. Govt needs to invest in Public health. The concept of hygiene and preventive health needs to be promoted in our day to day work, life and business. We have to reduce the maternal and infant mortality.
6. Police: Our police is behaving as if India is still ruled by the British. They have no respect for the people and often, they behave as the criminals. Why the police is not able to be a professional force with associated requirements in crime prevention, investigation and prosecution? No wonder, custodial deaths are far too common. Major changes are needed urgently. National/State police commissions with involvement of relevant people including the public are needed to review what needs to be done to make our police force a good force.
7. Manners, etiquette, and public behaviour: Rudeness, arrogance and discourteous behaviour is far too common. If we can be model citizens when out of India, why we can not be similar when in India? Urinating/defecating openly and spitting are just few examples which must be stopped soon. Public education via schools and mass media is needed. Penalty regime like Singapore will have to be thought about.
8. Public servants or the masters of public: Bureaucrats behave as if they are our kings/queens rather than public servants. Drastic changes are needed in their work, attitudes and behaviours.
9. Politicians: We have openly corrupt politicians and many are criminals. We should not allow any one who has been convicted of a set of defined crimes to contest election. Elections rules must be reviewed and revised.
10. Reservation: Reservation was brought in 1947 for 15 years but it has become permanent. Sons of IAS and ministers are getting the benefits of reservation even in IITs, medical institutions and judiciary. Caste based reservation must be stopped and people from disadvantaged parts of the society irrespective of the caste should be given help to improve themselves but there should be no reservation in either qualifying exams, jobs or promotions.
11. Judiciary:Trials can go on for decades before any judgement is delivered. Justice has to be delivered quickly. We would need more courts and judges to deal with this problem. No case can go on in one court for more than 1-2 years.
12. Government leaders: Ministers should be appointed because they are capable, not because of any other reason. A foreign minister should be the one who can deal with the intricacies of foreign affairs and a finance minister should be the one who has concepts of finance management. Politicians and ministers should know that there is something called retirement. Either they retire themselves after 70 yrs or political parties should not select them after this age.
13. Public mentality and attitude: “Chalta Hai” attitude is harmful. “Muft Khori” is not helpful. We need to have the concepts of self-worth, self-esteem and nationalism instilled in us with the help of curriculum and mass media. Pan-Indian identity should be promoted and encouraged in preference to region, caste and religion based identity.
14. Compulsory English and computer education: Every student must be taught English along with a local language. English has remained the link language and Bollywood films has taken care of Hindi. Similarly, every student must have a minimum standard in computer/internet use and familiarity.
15. Civic sense and moral education: While our GDP/economy has grown, the civic sense and moral standards have fallen. You would see that rubbish is thrown out on the streets from the homes. No body lets the elderly get out from the buses/trains easily and helps them in doing so. People do not care who falls as long as they get in the buses/trains. Profits and selfish gains are everything for a significant proportion of our population. Proper emphasis on Civic sense and moral behaviour must be given from the formative years.
16. Human rights and value of Life:We have the National Human Right Commission [NHRC] and similar ones in the state but we still have serious violation of human rights in India. “Life” has hardly any value. A doctor and a hospital will often refuse to treat a critically injured person only because they have not lodged a FIR. In the process, critically important time is wasted, leading to preventable fatal outcomes. An intense and massive mass media campaign on human rights and values will have to be commenced. NHRC will need to be given more powers to investigate, prosecute and punish the culprits which often are the bureaucrats and police authorities.
17. Aged care: It is not uncommon that people do not care for their elders in India these days. This is not universal by any means but not uncommon either. The State must take initiatives to ensure that elderly people are able to live with dignity. Lok Sabha had recently passed an act which has provisions to protect elderly people from abuse from their relatives.
18. Naxalism:When the state is not doing what it must do, we see the births and growth of extra-Gov forces. Multi-pronged strategies need to be adopted in controlling this menace.
19. Terrorism: India will face this problem for long time because it is not likely anytime soon to have a good relationship with Pakistan. We need to remove our “soft image” and become ruthless in eliminating the terrorist elements. It does not serve a great purpose to keep a convicted terrorist in Tihar Jail for years when even supreme court has rejected the appeal. President of India must not keep the mercy appeals pending indefinitely.
20. Effective foreign policy: While we set our house in order effectively, we need to have a good foreign policy which is able to adapt itself with the changing scenario around us and far afield. It should be managed by those who are the most competent to run the Foreign affairs. We need to learn from China in these matters and need to study how it has befriended Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mal Dives and Burma, often at our cost.
There is a need for a “Commission for national development”which should be entrusted with the job of finding out the priorities for the nation building and national development.
We may not like to admit it but we will need to study with full seriousness, the ways and methods which China adopted in achieving what it has in the last 30 years.
Having said all what I have said, it still remains a fact that nothing would be achieved until we, the people of India, change ourselves in regards to who we are, what is our self worth, what are our rights & obligations, what type of politicians and Gov we want to have, where we want to go, and where our country ought to be going. It is us that must change the most.
I will keep thinking on these topics and will keep updating this write-up. I look forward to your views.