Sitting in the front verandah watching the springtime flowers grow in the front lawn, I was transported back to my childhood. I reach for the newspapers and read the morning news, as I sip the morning tea and wish that the world had not changed from what it was. The barking of the street dog and the cry of the vegetable seller rose over the wall and we discussed the latest political shenanigans as parties and leaders changed. The people have voted decisively for cleaner government and swept the old ones from power and a new mood is in the air. Corruption is on the run and the corrupt are hard pressed to hide their ill-gotten gains, in the largest democracy in the world.
The new budget lays out the foundation for social security through Insurance and micro lending as the poor and dispossessed have voted for change. The largely agrarian economy has to be transformed into a more urban state and employment on a vast scale is needed along with education and equal opportunity. In a land divided by innumerable castes, languages, dialects, age old customs of acceptance of a status quo, no one has the wisdom to change to a homogenous society. The paths like the Hindu way of life are numerous and the goals dispersed, and yet the nation marches on as one. The miracle is not in the diversity but in the unity of purpose, that the populace has shown.
My greatest condemnation for the Congress who has ruled India for most of the decades since Independence are best expressed in the following words:
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the rights of the people by the gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” -James Madison, fourth US president (16 Mar 1751-1836)
The socialist Nehruvian model taken to new heights by his daughter Indira by nationalizing all major sources of finance and economic development had led to the now infamous Hindu rate of growth. The soft state economy where the people were treated as the wards of the state, and licensed and permitted in almost all aspects of commerce and industry drove capital and entrepreneurship out. While the Asian tigers and China roared India whimpered creating the largest population living below the poverty line. The brightest stars of its IITs and AIIMs left in droves for more liberal economies and prospered beyond any ones imagination. The people suffered and voted for change but got none, and it was not till the late liberalization in the 90’s; that some of them returned and paved the way, for a modern India to start to emerge.
Now new doors are being opened and the budget tries to bring sanity to a repressive taxation regime. The new schemes to tame inflation and ready the economy for a growth trajectory are being laid out. It will take decades to undo the damage done, but now an Indian Finance Minister with his friend the new PM bring a uniquely Indian perspective to growth and opportunity. Their delusions of grandeur are ripe for blossoming and the world watches in disbelief as the wheel starts to move. The Ashoka Chakra at the heart of the Indian flag is suddenly starting to turn pushed by the tireless efforts of its new leaders. If you can’t lend a hand then you had better step out of the way, as a new day dawns for a billion people, after a long and lonely night!
PS: The starting of the wheel of Dharma’s motion, will destroy the stagnation of the Indian economy is my new hope. The new leaders will bring dynamic change, and the way of truth will reign again, bring death to the inertia that governed India. Virtue and compassion should be the governing principal under this national flag and prosperity will surely follow.