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If Nehru Visits India Today ...
|by Mahesh Chandra Dewedy|
... How will he Find the Country of his Dreams
In order to realize these dreams,
It is an interesting intellectual exercise to visualize how Nehru would react if he were to descend now in this country. This visualization may differ in details from individual to individual because of differing perceptions of the world around us, but, if personal biases are deliberately minimized, the gross outcome should not differ significantly.
I wish that Nehru descends first in Lucknow - not only because I live in Lucknow, but also because its transformation from a City of Gardens to a City of Stones best represents the transformation of India since the time of his death till today. Nehru will marvel at the opulence, grandeur and neatness of stony parks and their stony surroundings, which eloquently speak of the economic prosperity and technical advancement of the state and also at the capability of its rulers to splurge public money on agenda dear to oneself or a section of the population rather than on general public welfare.
Abundant growth of educational institutions in urban as well as rural areas will give great solace to Nehru, but once he inspects a school or any office of education department, the mercenary attitude of teachers and employees as well as their conversion to caste-politics will depress his soul greatly. Total failure of adult education program and misuse of budget grant under this head by the bureaucracy and the politicians may also make him a bit wiser about the theory and practice of planning by the state, of whose he was a great champion.
Nehru will surely be pleased by the fruits of his efforts in imparting scientific and modern education. The nation has taken significant leaps in computer science, nuclear technology, space programs and medicine; and our scientists are in demand everywhere as they are competing with the best in the world. However, he will be saddened to see that despite heavy funding by the government medical facilities are beyond the capacity of the poor of the nation.
The fruits of his labors in establishing infrastructure projects will be a cause of great satisfaction and pleasure to Nehru, because India is now one among the ten most industrialized nations of the world. At the time of gaining independence, we did not manufacture even good lanterns or even needles, and today we build almost anything including planes and ships. But a comparison with achievements of Chinese during the same period may throw some cold water on his elation.
The policy of caste-based reservations in appointment and promotions initiated during his regime and steadily widened and strengthened by subsequent governments will be a great eye-opener for a romantic visionary like Nehru. During his regime caste-based reservations to scheduled caste/scheduled tribes might have been a necessity due to excruciating social discriminations existing then. But he will learn to his disbelief that caste-based reservations have done almost everything that he loathed to do - this policy has strengthened the caste rather than annihilating it, this has divided the society in general and services in particular on caste-basis so badly that caste-conflicts and caste-favoritism have become a norm and will keep on increasing for ever, reservations in promotions have ensured that only comparatively junior, inefficient and corrupt reach the higher echelons and efficient and honest workers must become their demoralized subordinates, this policy has created vast opportunities to corrupt, criminal and self-seeking politicians reaching the top, and has also created a neo-Brahmin class among its first generation beneficiaries who are hell bent to ensure that most of the reservation benefits are grabbed by their progeny and really down-trodden do not share that pie. Such an unhealthy and unjust policy, if not amended, is bound to rebound sooner or later, and even Nehru and Ambedkar should not be surprised, if it leads to fragmentation of the country.
I feel that, ultimately, Nehru will return as a happier person, because despite our casteism, corruption and conceit, we have progressed far more than most other nations, which became independent during mid-twentieth century. And despite some of the retrogressive and fragmentative policies, our adherence to democratic norms may soon force us to adopt more progressive and just policies.
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