By Vijay Sanghvi
India has an enormous bank of young humans beings who make it the most youthful in the galaxy of ancient nations. 72 per cent of Indians is young, literate and with the ability to adapt multi-discipline skills. They are a potential national asset as developed countries are inflicted with shortages of skilled working hands due to their aged populous. Educated young can be an exportable wealth to fetch resources through remittances to accelerate the pace of growth in India. A comparison of a single count gives an indication of potential. China is today laden with 480 million old who are beyond working age. India has only 86 million old with nearly 75 million taken care of by their families. The Chinese government has to bear expenses on their housing, food and health care as the single child a family rule enforced by China since 1971 has left them without caring progeny. Their young ones are elsewhere with their child.
Of three major Asian nations, Japan became rich before it became old. China turned old before it became rich. India is young with the potential of becoming rich without getting old. It is perhaps the greatest strength of India though it was viewed to be the major problem afflicting Indian power. It can be quickly turned into a national asset with imparting skills since overwhelming numbers among them have natural adaptability for multi-discipline skills.
The past sixty decades may have become grounds of economic realities harsh, but India is not an entirely barren land teeming with only poor like some African nations. It has 260 million strong middle class with the purchasing power of unequal strength in the world. The population living below the poverty level has been reduced to 22 per cent only though some may dispute the estimates. 96 per cent children attending schools today indicates that their poor parents are not obsessed with the idea of getting two meals a day and have changed their mind to seek empowerment of their children through education so that can acquire dignity of life in their future.
Though agriculture is still largely dependent on vagaries of nature, India is self-sufficient not only in food grains but also in many cash crops to spare large quantum of various agriculture produce for exports. There is an enormous scope for improving productivity with the consolidation of land and restoration of soil health. Even bad years in recent decades have yielded ninety per cent production. The issue of farmers’ suicides has been exaggerated for political gains as several unscrupulous elements are exploiting the compensation schemes for the affected families. Even natural deaths are passed on as suicides to collect the declared payment.
The industrial base is not as expanded as it ought to have been. India enjoys a comparatively better reputation for quality of goods it manufactures than China produce. Americans prefer India made over China-made products is known. Some items are exclusive Indian products in demand world over. India has an enormous saving reserve at home and it remains locked up in banks for middle class prefers the security of their savings than profits through speculative investments. Indians possess an enormous quantum of gold in forms, metal and jewellery as family savings. No estimates of Indian gold possessions have been officially and authentically carried out
Education base in India is extensive though it lacks in quality of teaching for vast numbers in municipal and government schools. But a large number of universities churns out every year more graduates, more than half a million, than the rest of the world barring China. School leaving level educated is highest in India than the remainder of the world put together. Little attention through administrative intervention can improve the quality of education as taught are available in ample numbers to replace bad teachers.
The weakness of India is its population and mentality. No attempts have been mad to inculcate character and pride in being Indian. Some conservative elements had been striving to divide people on prejudices for different denominations though in various fields of activities, young of all denominations have displayed their talents without display of prejudices by religions. The Muslims have been great singers and thespians who have never shied away from exhibiting their skills in the projection of Indian culture. The styles of raising hands in a prayer of Almighty may differ but in wearing downs of Indian culture, there is no difference either in them or minds of their fans. Standing ovations are accorded to a Muslim singer when he renders Saraswati Vandana or Meera Bhajan. Hindu musicians also excel in the presentation of Sufi hymns making in praise of Allah. Thus large numbers keep away from communal strife, but a handful of fanatics can spoil the harmony of living.
Indians have been bound with the unity of one culture but not with a single political or religious authority for ages. There never was, before India attained Independence in 1947 a single political authority to govern them or religious authority to discipline their life. Even oppressions of outsiders ruling India for seven hundred years made no difference to life and living of ordinary Indians whose social order limited demands from life. The intra-caste conflicts were inherent in uneven social structure, but it did not lead to violent and aggressive life style as it did in Europe or China. Religion was also a form of relative values to give inbuilt sector specific feelings of pride.
India is no more a conservative. It is not only learning but also craving for rapid modernization. Young of India etch to make their fortunes and also mark outside as opportunities appear to be great outside. However, India is also gradually becoming a land of hopes for young. Thirty thousand young men and women came out of the safety of their homes to stand by an old man who had undertaken fast unto death for seeking the eradication of corruption from public life. Yes the Indian political system that transformed in recent years from a public service orientation to the self-serving mode is a greater weakness of Indians. Traditional politicians display a lack of vision for a bright future. Instead propelling Indians to conquer the world, they desire to keep them hitched to their old pegs like milch animals are. Only by milking them for votes can they catapult themselves in power corridors.
For sixty years, the concept of empowering Indians with character, pride and skills to make them better citizens was not implemented. Instead, they were made dependent on welfare schemes which were nothing but charity for few who could grab. Rest remained in the abyss of poverty, deprivation and socio-economic injustice. The Green and the While Revolutions brought in unintended social and political transformations as better economic conditions made people look forward to other aspects of their life. Their lives were no more centred around the struggle for two meals. It led to the realization of the importance of health, education, small family norms and sought cognizance of their place and their rights as humans in the world. They moved out from life under the umbrella of fatalism with the realization that they would have to fight to limp out. That realization also brought to an end the era of the political thought that had thrived on doling out charity.
Narendra Modi offers them an excellent opportunity for he is corrupted with a thought of pushing India and Indians ahead of all other races. He does not pretend to lead them. Modi is striving to push them on the path that will lead them to a better life only if they are ready the for the struggle. His vision differs from the conventional moulds of the leftists and the rightists as he seems to be bent upon results without caring too much for ideology to achieve results. But the conservative minds both within and outside are a threat to his new concept of governance. His cleanse India is not a campaign merely to clean streets and the environment around but also to cleanse mental makeup to usher morality in actions. He is not asking them to wear swords or hold bows and arrows but handle tools to better their lives.
The big threat to India’s future is in degradation of politics. A habit of doubting intension and integrity of opponents as well as bureaucrats has become a political fashion. The British mistrusted Indians as potential trouble makers against the British regime. Hence, they imposed several restrictions on creativity and ability usage by Indians. The stance has to be reversed, and belief in honesty and integrity of every Indian needs to be established. Indians cannot move without a belief that every Indian is honest unless he or she is caught in nefarious activity. But tendency now is to run down people who hold office by accusing them of misdeeds even without waiting for confirmation of their misdeeds. This is a new form of terrorism. It affects administration as even honest official find it difficult to take a decision. Those affected by the decision immediately rush to media with the accusation of wrongdoing. The Same game is played by both sides, and both rush with the accusation of inefficiency if the decision is put off. Person holding office is thus set to a disadvantage.