Friday, September 10, 2010

A “We Don’t Care Nation”

Had whatchamacallit, a moment of epiphany, today as I was in a discussion with a friend in train about the days when we enjoyed our commute sitting. I noted how our commute (I am a veteran commuter of 30 years) had become unbearable over the past five years and we have to stand practically for one hour it takes to reach our work place. It struck me that the irony of our nation is that it is what may be called a “We Don’t Care Nation” in more ways than one. Consider the following:

Our infrastructure is the poorest I have seen in the countries I have been to. In villages there isn’t any infrastructure to speak about. I mean, you see mounds of garbage and plastic in every village one passes through and people don’t care to even complaint of this stinking mess.

Consider that everyone knows that the political and bureaucratic hierarchy is corrupt but no one has the guts to do anything. Enquiries and commissions have come and gone but haven’t made a dent on the corruption that is so obvious in Indian public life. Politicians and the business class amass considerable wealth but nobody seems to care. Add to this the financial sector – banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, arbitrages, stock markets – the picture is a bewildering maze of corruption. What seems “is” actually “isn’t.”

Of late, the farmers have been at the receiving end of every injustice that can be heaped on them. Make them victims of the machinations of the seed companies, don’t give them fair prices for their produce, give them micro credit and drive them to suicide by sending collection teams to their homes. Why are vegetable not reaching the markets in cities? They are being cut off at the supply stage by the big retail companies. A kilo of potato costs nearly five times what it used to ten years back. Visit any traditional vegetable market and you will find empty stalls and rotten vegetables. Has anyone checked why? We are a nation of artificial scarcities. Make things scarce and drive up the prices. Hoarding, a harmless word, is the devil here. Shows we don’t care.

Distraught villagers are leaving their rural habitats in droves and settling in cities. The number may be quite shocking. It is estimated that half of India’s population will live in the already overloaded cities breeding sickness, poverty and crime. Does anyone care? According to this article the migration is alarming leading to urban chaos and disenfranchisement. Excerpt:

“The city (Mumbai), a dumbbell-shaped island that juts into the Arabian Sea, is paying a price - every day an estimated 1,500 newcomers move to the 438 square kilometres (169 square miles) of land already packed with more than 17 million people.

“The result: the roads are chaos, the suburban train service carries some six million passengers a day - nearly three times its capacity - there are water riots, and infrastructure projects are stalled because squatters can't be moved.

“With a population density of around 29,000 people per square kilometre, Mumbai is one of the most crowded cities in the world.

“More than half of its residents live in shanty colonies and on pavements.
The situation has become so acute that officials now measure progress not in terms of new housing but to the extent to which slums can be "regularised" - squatters' rights recognised and basic amenities provided, including public water taps, community toilets and paved walkways with open sewers.”

The problem is so acute that most housing societies go without water and the precious liquid has to be bought by the tanker loads. And they are talking of building a 117-storey tower in the midst of all these confusion.

(It’s 12:08 a.m. and I am sleepy. More of this tomorrow.)

2 comments:

pratik said...

I understand your concern. From your perspective we truly have become a don't care nation. In my opinion I feel that these problems could decrease effectively if education was imparted to all. I feel that we have become the way we are because we were not taught to understand the long term impact of our actions. I came across this blog (http://bit.ly/e7Mo9a) that discussed how education could help curb social injustice and think you might find it interesting.

pratik said...

You are undoubtedly correct when you say that we are becoming a "we don’t care nation". If not for ourselves, then at least for the future generations we must take note of the consequences of our actions. I would strongly suggest this page (http://on.fb.me/9TFsAQ) that discusses the importance of social awakening.