Saturday, June 17, 2006

Two Nations in One

Between 68 deg. E and 92 Deg E; 8 deg N and 36 deg N lies one massive piece of land; a piece of land that hosts two nations. The nations of India. Both Nations answer to international calling code +91; but only one that has access to the internet domain .in

There's a nation that is wealthy; that posesses a standard of living competing with that of the U.S; and there's a Nation that would give Darfur a run for its money as far as misery is concerned. Let's call the nations India and Bharat respectively; reserving the English name for the prosperous nation. It reflects reality better.

Bharat speaks in many languages - and most of it cannot write. Bharat dwells in slums; relies on the usually unreliable monsoon for farming. Bharat has one of the largest populations in the world; but still has one of the least per-hectare yields of agriculture in the world. Almost all Bharatwasis are farm-based. The urban dwellers often works twelve hours a day, six days a week to feed their massive families. Life in Bharat is a struggle.

In Bharat, opportunities are scarce. Education is seldom a priority. Illiterate parents often do not appreciate the importance of school; they put pressure on their children to work and support the family instead of letting them go to school (a situation borne out of, often, utter necessity). Even the women work as labourers (who said working women is a new concept in Bharat?). Construction work happens in the foul 50 degree heat. And women don't even have bathrooms to bathe in. This is true even in the more prosperous southern states. Let's not even talk of the miseries in Orissa and Bihar.

And when it rains in the slums, it falls on the bed. It falls on the stove. Mosquitoes breed outside the front door. And the government does not remove them easily; the poor cannot bribe. The combined (Bharatiya + Indian ) economy survives exclusively on bribes. And when it does not rain, things get even worse. Water supply is muddy (if it exists). Long trips to the well by women have become quite a common feature in National Georgraphic and other publications.

In Bharat, reporting sexual abuse (an astronishingly common phenomenon) is an unaffordable luxury. There's no time to report it; the police will not take it seriously; and the social stigmas that follow are, well, a fate worse than death. Bharat is a land of 900 million. 900 million battling over scarce and mediocre resources. For the Indians have hogged all the good tomatoes, the healthy eggs. The Indians use all the power, drink all the water.

India is a new world power. It was always a nation of a very high standard of living. Perhaps the only thing wrong with it was the extremely hot climate; and the squalor in the streets created by the Bharatwasis. I mean, who wants to walk on a street which smells like a sewer? Who wants to look at poor, suffering people? But besides that, life is excellent in India. Houses can be cleaned for a pittance by the Bharatwasis. Indians are ambitious. They want to do well in life; their life is greatly inspired by American sitcoms, American Universities and American freeways. Some Indians set sail for greater "opportunities" abroad, but with globalization, an Indian standard of living is really high enough.

Bharatwasis are converting to Indians; some of them are drifting up the stratas of the society. 45% of all the Bharatwasis have cable of some sort already! But there's so many of them. A sudden change in the standard of living is almost impossible. It will take a herculan effort to awaken the Bharatwasis.

It is gratifying to note than democracy has come up with a solution. Affirmative action. Will it benifit the Bharatwasis in the long run? The Indians don't think so - affirmative action hurts the Indians. You wouldn't expect them to support these reservations.

I'm sure democracy will come up with an affirmative action approach that shall not affect the Indians negatively. For what is good for the Bharatwasis will be good for the Indians in the long run. Perhaps Bharatwasis and Indians will be the same in the future.


Akhilesh said...

If there is hope, it must lie with the Bharatwasis. (to paraphrase Orwell)

Arunn said...

but as long as the decisions about the Bharathwasis are made by indians (notice the small i), then it is worthwhile to recall Hope, one of the Theological virtues, is actually only the last thing that remained in Pandora's box...

but may be I am getting older than you...

Radha said...

Liked this entry, and for a change, I think I understood what you are talking abt and even agree with you !! :-)

Srihari said...

Nice way of reflecting on the truth in India. I couldn't agree more. My belief is that converting Bharatwasis into Indians, (though not necessarily the best objective on all counts), is an absolute priority and must begin with the Bharatwasi children. Good food, health facilities, education and employment.

Akhilesh said...


I agree with you. Progress does not mean English Education. So, converting to Bharatwasis to Indians is not the best objective on all counts. But I am in support of making the country more well-to-do.

I agree with your asessment. But who is the best to do it? The corrupt governments? (Corrpution is a reality in any beauraucratic under-developed society, for it is an easy way to feed one's family).

I think the answer lies is private enterprise. History has shown that private enterprise beats socialism hollow. The government must be a very vigilant watch-dog.

It is gratifying to note that these are indeed the states objectives of the Singh government.

I haven't lost hope with the government. Actually, Arunn (look, I have finally stopped prefixing a Prof. to your name), I believe the essence of democracy is the fact that, though Indians make the decisions, they do it under pressure from the Bharatwasis. A success for democracy; nothing to lose hope about.

Srihari said...

Rap, I read your comment and was in totally in tune with you, until I heard a small jarring note right at the end.

The point I have a disagreement on is when you say that though Indians make the decisions, they do it under pressure from the Bharatwasis. That would be an ideal scenario, but reality is far from it, atleast in my opinion. Most of the times, the Indians politicians take the Bharatwasis for a ride...if my understanding of your classification of Bharatwasis and Indians is correct.

Upliftment schemes for the past 50 years have yet to bear significant fruit because the Indian politicians knew how to beat the system and only a fraction of the benefits reached the intended sections. The same holds true even in the case of reservations.

By providing a wealth of amenities aimed at the Bharatwasi children, you aim at removing the need for these children to require any aids and sops from the government later on. The basic idea has to be that you must make them progressively less dependent on support systems, otherwise it is a self-defeating cause.

Akhilesh said...

I think people are too pessimistic about Indian Democracy. It is easy to be pessimistic about a nation of a billion with 400 million people below a "poverty line". The definition of that poverty line too, is rather pathetic.

It is easy to be pessimistic about corruption, which is endemic in our system right now.

It is impossible to be optimistic: remember what happened to BJP after the "India Shining" campaign?

India has come a long way in the 60 years after "independence". Democracy is endemic; populism has taken root.

Tell me, what is populism by definition? It is a massive subsidy to the masses. That India has not done well in the last 60 years is all because of the 3.5% growth-rate disaster because of the Soviet Style central planning that the great Nehru adopted. If we had 8%, growth would have trickled down to the poor by now!

There's way too many complications to consider within a comment. Perhaps a new post is due. I'll to my humble best to post my interpretation of these facts shortly (after I get home. In the "lab" now).