India of my Dreams - March Open Essay: Manohar Singhnai K. Khetavath

UPSCPORTAL Open Essay Competition "March 2014"

"Essay Topic: India of my dreams"

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
- A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Our grand fathers told us that India is a developing country, we listened to them; our fathers told the same, we dint work on to improve; we are going to tell the same and our children will also tell the same. When will our India can be said a developed nation? Hence, dream is to make India a developed nation, where Human Development Index (HDI) rank is increased, meaning that life expectancy, education and income of every citizen in increased to significant levels. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam also envisions India as a developed nation in his Vision 2020 document. To make this dream reality, we Indians should have values: spirit of service to nation, dedication, harmony, peace, fraternity and sense of nationalism among others. Ethical governance structure and balanced sector development are essence of the dream of India.

India is not just a geographical entity with 1.25 billion populations but Ancient India was a land of knowledge and wealth. India was master in its culture, spiritualism and materialism but she lost the glory thanks to foreign invasion. Modern India can attain its ancient glory, if Indians can look back to the richness of ancient knowledge, and regain the position of world teacher in preaching the spiritual values as was done at Taxshila and Nalanda Universities.

Modern India, from colonial times to till date, has been flourishing with diversity: multi religious, multi lingual, numerous castes & sub-castes, ethnic tribes and different cultures adding colors to India. On the flip side, these institutions or social forms have been used for undermining the democratic setup. Caste based politics, communal violence, displacement of tribes, hatred between communities are such manifestations. Dream is to get rid of these practices and also social evils like dowry harassment/deaths, violence against women and children (domestic violence, rape, kidnap, human trafficking, child labor etc). Education and Gender sensitization are the best tools/weapons to address these issues.

Political sphere is one of the important realms in democratic country like India. It would be pleased to see India with corruption free governance structure, where issue of corruption becomes a thing of past. Corruption-free governance is core of the citizen governance but the current state of affairs reveal that corruption is like cancer, has spread to almost all sectors. Corruption adversely impacts economy and also common man. This makes the issue to be addressed on war footing and needs mention in Dream Project. India’s ranking in 2012 Transparency International’s corruption Perception Index at 94 of 112 countries is the testimony to the issue. The corruption issue had also led to the movement called ‘AnnaHazare movement’ that called for an end to corruption through the JanLokPal bill, created a wave across the urban middle class.

Criminalization of politics and politisation of criminals (CP& PC) is another sad reality in Indian legislative systems. Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), in its study reveals that around 30% of legislators are facing trial in criminal cases. This phenomenon negates the claim that we make “India is the largest democracy and conducts free and fair elections once in a five year”. Elections have become a ritual and it is not yielding intended results, thus law breakers are turned into law breakers.

The System of Fast past the post system is nor truly representative, because more often than not, majority views are not reflected. Hence, the need of electoral reforms like, Proportional Representation system, Right to recall, None of the Above which can have impact on outcome of result etc.

Dynastic politics has become the order of the day and power is revolved around the members of family. Politics is also seen as family business, and hence common man’s winning an election become a distant dream; worse still, if the candidate neither has political lineage nor financial resources. As a result, it creates gulf between citizens and their representatives.

There is a wider perception that all politicians are corrupt and no alternative for this except to live with it. In these circumstances, people at large vote for the candidate who belongs to their community, with the satisfaction that, at least their community leader is benefitting from this corruption system. Some political party leaders are too eager to capture their caste votes and creating caste as a ‘vote bank’.

Some parties politicize communal issues and this not only lures one community but creates hatred in another community against the former. This form of communal politics is a serious threat to our secular fabric and may lead to communal violence if not controlled at the outset. Secularism is part of basic structure of Indian constitution. Hence, all parties should show restrain from communal politics.

Freedom of speech and expression is the essence of democracy. This fundamental right is abridged in recent past over some literary and theatrical works. As one western philosopher rightly points out that “I accept your right to say what you want to say but I may not accept what you say”, one should accept author’s work or artist’s drama irrespective of one’s opinions on the work. Religion is something that has been deep down to the social system, and it cannot be uprooted by one or two pieces of work.

On political front, the agenda is to have ethical politics where corruption is absent, no dynastic politics, no criminals entering the sanctum of parliament and legislative assemblies/councils, and no more caste and religion based politics. And everyone is allowed to express his/her talent in the form of speech and/or expression, obviously within the reasonable limits. Fellow citizens should appreciate their work, can also criticize if required but only with democratic means.

Justice is where poorest of poor is affected most if it is expensive and delayed. Justice should be sped up without undermining the quality of it. More number of fast track courts can be set up and hat too at local level so as to ensure justice is done a step away if not at door step. On the other hand, judicial accountability should be ensured so ensure the transparent and honest working of judiciary system.

Economic sphere is one that drives nation, needs mention in Dream Project to address some pitfall.

First, India should be appreciated because; she could grow at an annual average rate of 7% when many of the world economies were crumbling, thanks to strong fundamentals such as high domestic savings.
Infrastructure is lagging behind in India and because of which Investment inflow is not as we expect.

India lives in villages as Gandhi said, but villages lack road and rail connectivity, which should be improved so as to boost lives of rural population and also nation’s economy.

India is gifted with demographic dividend where working population is large chunk. She should harness this potential by creating massive employment after skill up gradation. India’s manufacturing sector which is labor intensive can be made use of. Recent National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) aims at creating 100 million jobs in next 10 years and also increase share of GDP from 16% to 25%. Successive governments should work for it cutting across party lines so as to provide at least 50% of 220 million work force that is estimated to join in the next decade. This enhances the global competitiveness, and also industrial infrastructural development.

Agriculture has been the lifeline of India, has around 60% population dependent on it while sharing mere 14-16% of GDP. Distress migration is the frequent phenomenon due to weak monsoons and crop failures because of pest attacks. Green technologies like organic farming, water harvesting methods should be adopted to check migration. On the other hand, infrastructural works should be taken up in rural areas as mentioned in Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA). If agriculture production is good, has spin off benefits like food prices are in control and exports will increase apart from every Indian is fed (Freedom from Hunger). With better government policies and support, farmer suicides can be arrested.

Progressive Health sector is what keeps Indian healthy has multiple benefits. In India, nearly 40% children are under nourished and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) are shockingly high. Hospital infrastructure is very poor, India has just one doctor for every 1700 people as against WHO recommendation is 1 for 1000 population.

Many poor are dying because of inaccessibility to drugs thanks to poverty. Water and sanitation are in poor condition, making India the largest country defecating in open area. Open defecation leads to many water-borne diseases. India was recently given a certificate of polio free nation, but diseases like TB and Malaria and dengue still haunts India.

Real India is in villages and to make India progress along with Indians, rural development is necessary prerequisite. After the liberalization and globalization reforms (LPG), there has been a wide gap between urban India (India) and rural India (Bharat). To break this divide, all villages should be provided with road and rail connectivity, 100% electricity, drinking water and sanitation facilities. As technology is booming everywhere and villages should be connected with internet so as to avoid digital divide between urban and rural India.

India of my dream, would like to see there exists no poverty, no one goes to bed without food, near 100% literacy since, for many of above issues, education i.e. functional literacy can solve. Literacy not only functional and but also meaningful. In the event of upcoming 16th general elections, voter education is very much necessary to make the wise choice in electing the representative and future government.

India of my dream, would like to see there exists an honest and ethical political system, where right candidate is elected and is driven by the spirit of service to the citizens. This would enable mature and informed debates on policy matters, while maintaining the decorum of parliament.

India of my dream, would like to see Healthy India where neither infant nor mother dies during or after delivery. No child is suffered for under nourishment or any other birth defects. India should be free from diseases like TB, Dengue, and HIV/AIDS as we achieved Polio-free nation recently. India should be open-defecation free nation.

India of my dream, would like to see growth and development takes place simultaneously along with distribution among its people. Inflation no longer impacts common man, exports increase while reducing imports.
India of my dream, would like to see no violence against women and children. No human rights violations of any kind, e.g. death penalty. India would like to be seen as crime less society where everyone respects and loves each other with spirit of fraternity.

India of our dream is likely to be seen soon with the efforts of every individual as a citizen of India. Our freedom fighters and constitutional makers envisioned that India would be sovereign, socialist, democratic, republic and secular. We would strive to keep these constitutional values intact, development, peace, harmony would follow. We firmly believe that India, soon achieves the status of a ‘developed nation’.

Manohar Singhnai K. Khetavath

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