A country can be likened to a building as one of its smallest units. A building can’t stand without a foundation. A structure can stand tall and proud only if its foundations are strong and stable. One can reach the top of a structure only if its foundations – as well as the foundations of its staircase (or the lift well) – are strong and stable. An existing building can be made taller only if its foundations are deemed strong enough to sustain the additional loading, without showing any signs of distress. A building can never remain stable, let alone become taller, if its present custodians keep undermining its foundation.
India – a country that sustained a bloody partition at its birth and virtually started from the scratch 73 years ago – must undoubtedly have a strong foundation, which enabled it to survive through a number of wars (with its neighbours) and internal attrition but still managed to increase its population by four (4) times, emerging as one of leading economies and a major military power in the world in just seven decades after its birth. Not only that, it also managed to produce some of the finest minds in the world in all streams of academic and professional domains. All this development did not happen yesterday, or during the yesteryear, or during the last one decade. Bulk of it is a cumulative, resultant, product of the visions and actions of all those people who are not alive at present – except in the hearts and minds of people who saw and knew them – who worked tirelessly to shape India since 1947. Logically, one must expect the country’s foundation – as laid by its founding engineers – are extremely strong, as it has not collapsed, tilted or buckled, or become a failed economy or a banana republic despite its continued phenomenal growth, which shows no signing of stopping, at least anytime soon. Full credit goes to its founding fathers.
Countries, like buildings, need continuous maintenance. If a building needs to grow taller, due to a growing demand of its end-users, its foundations must be reviewed carefully before such a demand is met. If the demand is deemed reasonable and a decision is made that the building must be made taller, then its foundation must be beefed up and made more robust. If it is deemed impractical or technically impossible to beef up the foundation, only two options are available:
- Completely stop any further growth of the building and put a bar on the number and demands of its occupants; or
- Evacuate the building occupants and completely demolish the building. Install stronger and deeper foundations and construct a new building in place of the old building to serve its intended purpose.
Of the above, the first option could be considered as a prudent and practical necessity; however, the second one is a hypothetical madness unless, of course, Nature has other designs in mind.
It does not help to criticise the founders of a tall building because if it was not for them – the founding fathers – you would not be there where you are right now. One must be unwise to climb to the top of a phenomenally tall building and still proclaim its foundations – as laid by its founding fathers – are weak or poor. In the same vein, it is extremely imprudent to proclaim the stairs that lead us to the top are weak.
Foundations are not visible to the world, they remain hidden underground. When a structural foundation gets exposed, the integrity of the structure is deemed compromised and its structural collapse deemed imminent. Only engineers who design and construct them see them and know about them. The occupants and end-users of a building don’t see its foundation but their lives depend on its integrity.
Foundations are not made glamourous, they have no architectural finesse. They are meant to hide underground and work silently so as to provide a robust, resilient, tenacious and strong bearing to support the structure. They are supposed to prevent the structure from settlement (sinking), general collapse and toppling (tilting and overturning).
Look after your foundation. You are there where you are only because of them. Be humble and grateful to those souls who laid them for you. They had no blueprint before them; they had to start from the scratch. You indeed have a blueprint in front of you; so improve on their work but don’t criticise them. … Bill K Koul (9 February 2020)