‘A country is as good as its people. People make and shape a country. The people of India must own their country and proactively look after it. But do they? A country is defined by the values, conscientiousness, citizenship and discipline exhibited by its people. Politicians are just the sample representatives of the people. Unless Indian people improve qualitatively and conscientiously, the quality of Indian politics and politicians will never improve.
As India inches closer to the general elections of 2019, it continues to face numerous indigenous issues, such as pollution, corruption, rape, health issues, unemployment and other social issues. Politicians alone must not be blamed for those issues. They are born out of people, so people must accept their equal share of the blame too.
In most cases, you may receive a blank look when you ask that pointed question to a common person in India, “As an individual, what are you prepared to do and sacrifice for the country?” Or, in some cases, you may hear a counter question: “What can we do, we work hard to survive? We pay tax. The corrupted system will not allow us do anything. Nothing will happen unless we have good leaders.” You may even hear the following sweeping statements:
- “Everyone is corrupt because the politicians are corrupt.”
- “Bureaucracy is the biggest problem in this country.”
- “The British looted us and gave us a bad education system.”
People carry great expectations from their governments and leaders but, strangely, do not spell any expectations from themselves. They don’t realise their leaders and lawmakers mirror their own reflections. Undoubtedly, the country needs good politicians but that will not happen unless the country produces good citizens. People will keep getting what they deserve.
The tragedy is that the educated and wise people in India, who can make such a significant difference, are happily and silently watching their country drifting along. Some even defend the system! One must imagine Sisyphus happy! Paradoxically, but not surprisingly, most of them strive to send their children abroad, for education and permanent settlement. Perhaps, they know the state of future living conditions in the country. As such, most young Indians endeavour to go abroad – for undergraduate and post graduate studies, and some with jobs – with intention to return for holidays but never for living back in India.
For TRP and business purposes, the Indian electronic mass media keeps busy with mainly the political debates and discussions, whilst more serious national issues – population, liveability, education, corruption and a range of sickening social issues, such as rape and dowry – remain ignored.
Whilst India’s brightest minds work at the cutting edge of science and technology, its policy makers and politicians endeavour to divide the country along the regional, religious, ethnic and caste lines. For a reason, religion and caste, and not the human well-being and development, drive and characterise the Indian political thought. Indian politicians have polarised the Indian community.
India will potentially become the world’s most populous country in the next five to ten years and that may be great news for the politicians and the multinationals, as their respective market shares and profits will potentially increase as a direct result of the population growth. The more people, the better for them! Sadly, the more uneducated and ignorant people in the country, even much better for the politicians!
The country is paying a heavy price for its uncontrolled population growth and the economic growth of a few, by way of a steady erosion of its traditional civil, social, environmental and moral ethics. For earning respect in India, one does not need academic degrees or knowledge. Money talks in India! If you are able to wear expensive designer clothes, heavy gold jewellery and diamond rings, drive expensive cars and live in expensive areas and in large houses. With lean-looking, poorly-fed, servants buzzing around you, you tend to think you are no less than a god.
In India, power and money are worshipped. The political candidates who look educated gentle and harmless don’t generally win elections. Survival of the fittest in the country proves humans are herd animals and nothing more. If you don’t wield power and look physically strong and / or threatening, you will be consumed by others, one way or the other. It is a jungle out there!
Your entire body language will change as you become wealthy – your gait, language and tone, and your handshake. You will be expected to know and brush shoulders with the important and influential people – in government and political circles, business and media circles, and the police and judiciary. Most importantly, you will be known and feared for your sting, therefore, people will speak with you with utmost respect and subservience, albeit it is different what they will call you at your back!
The county’s current value system is characterised by the people’s poor uncivil behaviour on the roads and general lifestyle People play loud music during the night hours at social and religious events, without a care for any sick person or a student in the neighbourhood who may be preparing for examinations.
As a direct result of mind-boggling population growth (four times since 1947) and an ever-growing competition – driven by ever-increasing demand to supply ratio in most walks of everyday life – corruption has become an accepted way of life in India, so have bullying, aggression and arrogance.
People have developed very ingenious ways of individual survival and prosperity, most of which pass through the paths of corruption. Ironically, many see corruption as a normal way of life – ‘aisa he hota hai – sab chalta hai – mainu kee – kya problem hai? For individual survival, most people watch mainly their own individual interests – desh gaya baadd mein.
A prevalent herd mentality and mental blindness – to feed mindless social extravaganzas – have given birth and acceptability to corruption. The lavish lifestyle of the rich and the famous drives corruption at all socio-economic levels, because the common person wants to mirror them. Not many people are capable to even think for a moment what they are doing and what they ought to be doing. Peer pressure and tendency to show off amongst the middle-class makes them to blindly follow the everyday social trends set by others, such as novelties in lavish weddings, private schooling, expensive holidays and outdated rituals etc.
A relatively honest person, who falls to social pressures, ends up becoming poorer. Brave and conscientious people, who exercise austerity and don’t indulge in corruption or social extravaganzas, risk being called black-sheep and outcasts. An average person who does not have money for bribing officials, or an influential jack (sufarish) generally suffers.
The People Power
In an ethnically, socially and economically heterogeneous India, it is not possible to make all people happy unless they are educated and made to work conscientiously for the country, and demonstrate a national character.
Different sections of the Indian community live in different ages, and pull the nation in different directions. Unless they all move together – coherently – into the current day and age, India will keep paying heavily for its people’s faults. Who can bring people together to achieve the common goals of country’s health, sustainability and prosperity? Only people can, they are the People Power. But that will happen when they wake up, when they are educated, when they become determined to bring about a generational change.
To give vent to their frustration, out of sheer desperation and a short-term memory loss, people exercise their democratic right to vote, which allows them to keep changing the governments, but only to find themselves back in the same old situation. Their impatience, lack of vision and lack of character work against them in the broader terms and damage the country as a whole in the longer term. Change is the only constant in India, but not the human development.
Myopically, due lack of a national character, most Indians don’t care what happens to their country in five years or 100 years. They just want quick fixes so that their daily lives improve dramatically without any input from them. No wonder they fall prey to irresponsible election promises (equivalent to bribes), such as reduction in electricity bill or waving off farming loans, not even questioning once how any government can afford such luxury overheads.
The common people struggle in their daily lives regardless of who lord over them. Many of them – especially those who produce more than two children (some up to six or more from a one wife, or many more children from several wives) – must be blamed for their poverty, illiteracy and daily struggles.
If people don’t work and care for the country, and put their country before their own self, they must not expect their leaders to do any magic for the country. Only when people realise enough is enough, let us rise and help ourselves, magic will happen! Unless and until that does happen, India has absolutely no hope.
India follows a Westminster form of governance, and not a military dictatorship. People have the democratic power to vote. If people don’t exercise their sacred right to vote judiciously, with prudence and vision, they must not expect India to improve dramatically.
Indians must choose their representatives carefully, solely based on merit and past performance, and not just emotions. The onus is well and truly on the people of India. The People Power matters in a democracy otherwise bring in a benevolent dictator to run and manage the country.’ … Bill K Koul