Dr Jyotsna Bhattacharjee
The culture and character of a country are based on its social, political and economic development. From that culture springs the national ethos, which prescribes a code of conduct for its citizens and creates the conduct for business ethics and values. The Indian ethos and wisdom, a legacy from its ancient past, envisaged a social patter of society with an accent on redistribution. It has always been a champion of renunciation and rectitude rather than accumulation and aggrandizement.
During the British rule India was not industrially developed, because our imperial leaders did not want the country to progress, in order to continue their domination. At that time was mainly an agricultural country. But after attaining freedom it gradually progressed and today it is almost at per with other developed countries in the context of science and technology, in which it has made rapid strides.
At the time of independence the people thought that they would have a “Ramrajya”, as the Mahatma envisaged and everybody would live happily thereafter. But this utopian dream has been shattered into smithereens. I can’t say what the people wanted sure that in independent India everybody would have enough food to eat, enough money and enough happiness, but to no avail.
Our independence was not unalloyed joy, as the United India was divided into region on the basis of religion, which was a tragic blow to Mahatma Gandhi’s ideal. At the time of partition the country was ripped asunder by religious violence. People got killed in thousands and since then violence has been going on unabated. Once in pre historic times India had been a prosperous country, where spiritualism reigned supreme. But gradually violence and social disharmony sowed the seeds of discontent. When the British came the spiritual culture of the country was at low ebb. Taking advantage of the situation the British took over the country. So India remained under the foreign rulers for a long period and the people in general suffered a lot.
At present the socio economic condition of the country is far from satisfactory. Several problems have adversely affected the progress of the nation. While the British were here the Indian were united in their struggle for independence. But in all these years after independence various castes and sub castes have emerged demanding diverse facilities. The country was fortunate then to have leaders, who did all possible for the welfare of the country. Now, our leaders have feet of clay. Whatever they do is for self interest. They are ego centric having the least concern for the common people… and that is the crux of the matter.
Today the nation is divided on various issues as never before. On the top of that a large number of immigrants from a neighboring country entered our state causing great hardship for the indigenous people. Naturally our economic condition has deteriorated. Insurgency has raised its ugly head everywhere and our state has been badly hit. There is no peace and fear has gripped whole country. Assam had never seen such large scale violence before. But now there is no certainty regarding life and property. Shooting, stabbing, bombing, extortion, abduction etc. have become almost day-to-day affair.
Terrorism is a global phenomenon. In the recent past we have been hearing about terrorists all over the world. The attack on the twin towers and the World Trade Centre in the USA shocked the entire world. The attacks also occurred in London, Paris and other European states, which were supposed to be free from the menace. India, including our state, has become a haven for the terrorists and countless horrifying incidents have been happening somewhere or other. Young people have formed various terrorist groups to disrupt peace in the country.
In our state the situation is getting worse with each passing year. A section of the peace loving Assamese people has taken to arms terrorizing people, extorting money, abducting people to create confusion and chaos. They conceal grenades in crowded places like markets, malls, cinema halls, buses, railway stations and other places, which kill lots of innocent people and mime many more. Human lives have become a dime a dozen. Apparently during the present period people do not say with flowers, rather they say with bullets. Consequently a peculiar fear psychosis has gripped the entire nation. Here in our own state we find that people dare not venture out of their homes after dusk. You just do not know when, where or how you are going to be hit as the fear of some unknown marauder lurking behind the trees haunts you. Assam perhaps is the most terror struck state at the moment. Indian hospitality is proverbial and the Assamese hospitality is overwhelming. But now it is at stake. We hesitate to open our door to a stranger and never let anybody in without verifying his credential. The whole country is floating like a rudderless boat in a turbulent sea.
The question comes to the mind: why such things have happened? What has gone wrong? But the answer is not easy to find. You just can’t pinpoint only one reason may be we can blame the total degeneration all around. Morality is a thing of the past and it has been relegated to the darkest corner by our present generation. Prudence and morality no longer go together. Corruption, dishonesty and avarice have played havoc in our society. No wonder we have lost our proportion in our wild chase after money. Utter indiscipline has broken the backbone of the society.
Caste difference has given rise to caste politics and caste related violence. Since independence India has witnessed a large number of crimes motivated by caste. The Mandal Commission was established in 1979 to “identify the socially or educationally backward” and to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. So, through the years there has been a provision for reserving fixed percentage of seats for the Scheduled castes, Tribes and other backward classes. But reservation has brought many disparities and problems. The upper strata complain that excessive quotas for the undeserving members of the backward classes deprive the former of their rightful claim. The other section regards reservation as their basic privilege. But caste cannot be the sole criterion of reservation; economic and social conditions also should be taken into account. Excessive reservation may put obstacles in the path of progress, which would be detrimental to national prosperity. Reservation may also amount to gross injustice to others, which affects the efficiency and quality of public service.
In spite of bringing some benefits to some sections the reservation policy has created many problems. The temporary provision has become a perpetual privilege for some people, which has created disparities between two sections of people. This also has given rise to a peculiar class consciousness, which has adversely affected national integration.
Poverty is a major obstacle in the path of progress. The government has frequently been providing different figures about the extent of poverty. This makes difficult to gauge even the approximate figure. But there is no doubt that there are a large number of poor people in India, who cannot afford to have two square meals a day. Some of them send their minor children to work just to eke out a living and some of them even sell their little children for a small amount of money. The government has adopted various measures to reduce poverty. Kerosene, cheaper grains and other food items are made available through the Public Distribution System. The rural and urban employment programmes and free medical facilities are among the other programmes that have been taken up. But ironically enough the lot of the poor people has not improved. The “garibi hatao” scheme has remained a mere slogan, without any meaning.
Inflation is a global phenomenon. The prices have reached the sky and it has become near impossible for the common people to buy even the basic necessities. The governmnet has taken various measures to improve the education sector. Everybody realizes the value of education and with Sarva Siksha Abhijan, mid-day meal, free text book, free education schemes have helped immensely in making people aware of the importance of education. But they have not been entirely successful in eradicating illiteracy.
India suffers from over population. And the large scale infiltration of foreigners into our country has adversely affected the economy of the country and has also ruined the social fabric. Assam possibly is the worst sufferer and the peace has been totally destroyed by the foreigners. Despite many agitations staged by various parties and organizations, the foreigners have remained. Both the central and state government seem to be strangely evasive on the issue. This has given rise to great discontent amongst the indigenous people. There is a general fear that sometime in the near future they will be the minority in their own homeland and this fear is very real.
All these problems lead to one major problem which the country is facing and that is corruption. Love of money has become a curse to us and it has darkened the whole spectrum of human life. Everybody wants to make money by hook or crook. Money has made us totally irrational. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that even for getting the simplest service done you have to bribe the person concerned. The high up executive in three piece suit and shining shoes, also does not hesitate to make monetary transactions under the table for bestowing favour on somebody. Even the deserving ones cannot get their dues unless they are prepared to pay handsomely to some unscrupulous official. Don’t think that because you have the adequate qualification and adequate competence you can get the job. For getting the job you have to scatter money like confetti. Jobs are sold and bought like any other commodity. The better the job more is the demand money. It is money that counts. One who spends most deserves the job according to the present norm. That is the harsh bitter truth. Merit has taken the second place and money has occupied the first place. The job goes to the highest bidder. If you have money and can give more than the others, then you can have the job and no questions would be asked. but whether you deserve it or not is another question.
In recent times we have heard about scams involving thousands of crores. In fact, all the welfare schemes of the government fail due to the money grabbing instinct of the officials. Corruption in high places has become an open secret. If everybody is corrupt, then who would bell the cat? Bernard Shaw once remarked, “The rich man is nothing but a poor man with money”. Fundamentally they are same and have the same poverty of higher values. It is frightening really if we think for a moment about the power of money which often can and do take us away from the right path. That is the tragedy of our life.
If corruption can be eradicated then the other evils would necessarily disappear. Only then India would be able to become a prosperous, peaceful and respectable country.
(The writer is a former Head, Department of Philosophy, Cotton College, Guwahati)