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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Late-night random State of the Nation thoughts

  1. (Originally posted on Storify on 4th July 2013)
  2. Last night I got into one of those contemplative moods, reflecting on where we are as a society, compared to the India that our founding fathers fought so hard for. It was an entirely unplanned - and very random, non-hashtag - thought process. In other words, quite typical of me. :-)

    Since most of my followers are India-based - and it was probably 2.00 a.m or so in India, if not later - I didn't feel I was inconveniencing them at that hour with this near-monologue. I might have been wrong in a few cases - I apologise to them for spamming their TLs.

    I thought I'd storify the series of tweets, for anybody interested. There was a fair amount of rambling - from founding fathers, to the environment-vs-development debate,  to PPP (public-private-partnership), to integrity.

    I did get the odd response (no, not odd in the "strange" sense).

    As the ever-insightful @meetasengupta put it - "Trust. When trust is lost, all is doom."

    Just think about it.

    Who do we trust today? Our government? Our media? Our corporates? Our banks who hold our money?

    When we give our personal info to an entity in full confidence, how do we know where that data is travelling and how it will be used?

    Do our communities trust each other today, 66 years after independence, when old wounds should have normally gone through the healing process?

    We need to restore that trust in society urgently. Things don't have to be so bleak. But the solution has to be found from within ourselves. Only we can change our mindsets.

  3. Everytime I think abt it, everytime my respect for our founding fathers only increases. The odds they faced ! And how they managed!

  4. Communal tensions, very high rate of poverty, 500+ princely states...the West did not even expect India to survive as a country in 1947-48.

  5. Yet the founding fathers believed in India,built the nation, through all the crises. They'd sacrificed a lot personally to see a free India.

  6. They might have had personal differences, maybe egos too. But the idea - and needs - of India were bigger than all their own differences.

  7. There was a junoon, there was a sense of purpose...even the songs reflected that. Hum laaye hain toofan se kashti nikaal ke...

  8. Though there was mass illiteracy (very few were highly educated), there were some strong values. Like "work is worship". People worked hard.

  9. Today we have millions of more educated people. So much more technology.Life has become easier in many ways. But still SOMETHING's missing.

  10. Of what use is all this education if it still doesn't make man respect man?Rather, our education seems to accentuate divides in society!

  11. Education is supposed to increase enlightenment. Take people out of darkness. Presumably darkness is cause of hate.

  12. Some of our hate-mongers are highly educated. And even respected. When I see Subramaniam Swamy spouting hatred regularly, I have to wonder!

  13. It's everybody for himself now. Maybe times have become SO competitive - and greed so universal - that this was a natural consequence.

  14. When did EVERYTHING in life boil down to money, money and money alone? I don't recall it being like this 30 yrs ago. Maybe I didn't notice.

  15. My dad used to tell me "In matters of learning, look at people who have more than you. Aspire to be like them". +

  16. He used to say "In matters of money, look at people who have less than you. Be thankful for what you have, there are many worse off".

  17. When did aspiration for money become the most coveted-for-aspiration in life? Define our "aspirational" society...How did this happen?

  18. Not suggesting that everything was great in the past.Of course, it wasn't. Many things are much better now.But the obsession with money...

  19. The obsession to have more and more...in a country short of land, with millions homeless, buy more and more land/flats...

  20. Our crisis of land/water shortage is only getting exacerbated with rising population. There will be more profiteering. Ppl see only $$$$$

  21. What sort of society are we then moving towards? How many more beggars will we create? This time begging for water...

  22. And we continue to fight over petty things like who said what to whom when. Fights between the haves.The have-nots don't have time to fight.

  23. The have-nots are eking out a daily existence, working day and night. Just to survive. How unequal has our society become!

  24. The biggest loss in any society, IMO, is a loss of basic human values. If this doesn't exist, the society is doomed.

  25. We need to restore these basic values in society. It's not a zero-sum game. We can be economically vibrant AND have values in society.

  26. @Meetasengupta Very true. There's no trust anymore. In anybody, in any institution...they've all sadly been seen to have feet of clay.

  27. There are still people with integrity out there.Fighting hard not to fall prey to the system.But the system gets more and more consuming.

  28. I don't want to get into this capitalism vs socialism debate but I cannot accept that we cannot "grow" without destroying our environment.

  29. I tend to think our definition - and measure - of "growth" itself is suspect.

  30. We've defined it in a consumption society. The more you consume, the more gets produced to meet the demand. Ergo, more "wealth". +

  31. Have we put a price on our forests, on our rivers, on our ecosystem that sustains us every day with the air we breathe?

  32. We haven't- because they are all priceless! Ironically because they ARE priceless, we don't value them. Not if we cannot "monetise" them!

  33. The argument for a consumerist society (the buzzword is "aspirational") is that it creates jobs through more production to feed consumption.

  34. I have my own doubts on the input:output ratio (what with increasing mechanisation) but for the moment let me accept ths argument in part.

  35. Shouldn't a more holistic approach then take a look at ALL resources (incl environmental resources) to see how best to meet aspirations?

  36. Even the aspirations are mischievously mis-represented to cater to industry groups and their lobbies.

  37. People don't all want cars. That's an aspiration created by the car industry. They want convenient and quick travel options.

  38. In our cities, if we had top-class connectivity (incl last mile), would we have SO many cars on our roads? I don't think so.

  39. In a developing country, investment in public infrastructure is usually very high in the country's list of economic priorities.

  40. In India, after failing miserably for decades, we've now conveniently passed on responsibility to the magical PPP model.

  41. As if public-private partnership will suddenly deliver all the public infrastructure that decades of neglect didn't.

  42. In a country like India, where governance and transparency are already endangered species of good practice, PPP is a cruel joke.

  43. In theory, PPP is fine. Get the best of govt resources and private-sector skills/practices to develop infrastructure jointly.Yes, in theory.

  44. But in practice, it is more likely to bring out the worst of both. Govt will blame pvt sector, pvt sector will blame govt.

  45. So I am rather cautious about PPP in the Indian context.Not the concept, as its implementation in India. And I haven't even talked cronyism.

  46. As long as the fundamentals (I mean the govt machinery with checks/balances) are not in place, I wouldn't bring in pvt sector into eqn.

  47. Which begs the question: If the fundamentals ARE in place, the govt shd be able to execute public infra projects on its own, right?

  48. After all, many of the major public infra projects in the 1950s/60s were all govt projects. Like Bhakra-Nangal Dam.

  49. Is it competence? Is it that the public sector does not now attract the required talent to execute these infra projects?

  50. Is it purely a redefinition of government? Defining its boundaries more narrowly, to exclude such projects?

  51. What is it, I'd like to know. How is it that the govt could execute so many infra projects in the 1950s. And today struggles to lay roads?

  52. We need to realise first and foremost that this is PUBLIC infrastructure. So the buck stops with the government.

  53. If it chooses to partner with private parties, that's its choice. But it cannot abdicate responsibility quoting PPP or whatever.

  54. Look at the mess with gas pricing with Reliance.Look at the coal block allocations mess.Surely the govt shd've first thought it through?

  55. I don't blame the pvt sector. It will try to maximise profits at every opportunity. It is the govt which needs to define the framework.

  56. With so many competent people in govt, why was the framework so loose? So open to misuse?I can only speculate that vested interests ruled.

  57. So it's not (only) competence. It's integrity. Once the economy was "opened up", the country was put up for sale - without checks/balances.

  58. See, we end up exactly where we started. That word.Integrity.Maybe that's what our founding fathers had more of. Making all the difference.

  59. Integrity. A word somewhat difficult to describe. But you notice it - because it makes ALL the difference.

  60. With that, I'm closing this topic from my side for the day. :-) Thank you for bearing with this series of tweets. :-)

  61. @Raja_Sw Yes !!! We are less Indian than before. Freedom struggle did bind ppl irrespective of religion/region/Caste/Social status.

  62. @CK_Gupta Somewhere, education has failed to make us more open-minded, more accepting of others in society.

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