November 4, 2010
India was always a prosperous nation, believe it or not. At least in how it has been in the last 2 decades of my observation, it has been. The parameters were different from rest of the world. The composition wasn’t quite uniform. The order of India wasn’t quite consistent with the world order. The language of a scholar was somewhat parochial. But the vastness of the country and its output are not something a dilapidated nation produces. The political class was naïve when it came to counter the information bullets shoot at someone from India in a world platform. The currency has never been stronger. The missiles never had the ability to reach the Blue Ridge Mountain. It was never intended either. But the agriculture was astoundingly strong and self-sustaining. The degree to which prosperity was penetrating was reasonably low. The social structure was conspicuously conservative. But there is a fair degree of connectivity between conservatism and strength of economy, which is sensitive to the affairs of the international community. The other strong reason why the people were conservative had to do with the whim and corruption of the political class and the carelessness of the mass. The blatant disrespect towards the value of education and the drum and chest beating of culture. The thesis and anti thesis of cultural plurality and independence from the west was greatly a syncretism in nationalistic wrapping.
The sure shot sign of economic prosperity of the present times is the villager has become a cosmopolitan icon. The cheese shows up in the degree, to which men can grow, and the color of the hair a woman can die. It all adds up and never gets reduced like we can be made to believe as the effect of a war. A country that is prosperous now will be, for all time to come, except the singularities of mindless destruction and lies of history. Which is to say if we are to counter the menace of attack from the national enemy we are to resort to the laws of prosperity, not the ones of political or philosophical making. They are illusion at best and poverty at worst. If we are to remain prosperous we are to consume our prosperity in ways, which keep us educated and prepared for scientific growth. So, to say, there is a connection between having a solid network of communication that spans the geography of the country and how we can bring that mobility to mean our poor brethren from a remote village is capable of coming to enjoy the fruits of education and research. We should also mean business and professionalism when it comes to the rights of a person who is from prosperous backgrounds and not kill their spirit with a dose of socialism like some people do as a favorite exercise. Socialism is a deterrent to science. No degree of it is necessary. If we can buy the best from the world market why do we spend more on trash. Because we have to counter the ego of a first world citizen. Call them a fart world citizen but beyond that it’s an ego of our own making. I see socialism everyday when I drive in India. I don’t want to walk and you know the reason. The pollution is not something I am a great fan of. But more than that I am scared some body will hit me unconscious because the crowd is mindlessly insane. There is no rule of law. A rule of law is a simpler form of a law of law, that is the most precise form of law. So if your mind is not capable of some sort of simpler formulation of how to keep everything safe then you better be seized like a trouble and educated. Do we have places where we educate traffic violators; we don’t even have places where we educate a member of traffic. Every one who drives or walk or bikes in a traffic is a member of traffic and has rights and responsibilities. A driving license is a member card and can be revoked if safety is violated. That’s the rule of the law. And we don’t give a member card to a kid aged below 18. And so on. Why these rules are not formulated. Ok. SO I am digressing a bit from the original topic of how economic prosperity is changing the situation of India. But I also wanted to give you a truthful account of what economic prosperity is really bringing at the level of the quantum. It means people are driving BMW and Volkswagon but a great deal needs to be changed in the ground. Eg some folks and to my dismal observation very educated folks are elated when they note how development is being brought in an impressive way by parochial rulers. These are not necessarily great leaders these are out rightly corrupt politicians trying to generate hysteria and trying to create false impressions. The highways and streets of Bhubaneswar are in extremely poor condition. About 5 years ago I was driving on the streets of Lansing, which is the capital of Michigan. I instantly observed that the city looked much like Bhubaneswar. Call them twin cities of some kind. The streets of Lansing when I was moving from the airport to Okemos were not in pretty good shape. I was surprised that the streets of pretty many other cities in the USA are quite better. But then I noted that despite of the patch works on these cities streets these are beautifully maintained and constructed. But that’s not the case with streets of Bhubanweswar. Except a few, most of these are damaged and beyond recognition. Some streets were never constructed so you have to drive on soil and potholes of the size of the vehicle itself. And this is predominantly spared across the city. The great economic build up shows in terms of the villas people own and the expensive cars they drive. But this also shows up in other determinants and factors that are so impressive that I wanted to write this article.
I met this researcher friend of mine yesterday over a cup of coffee and got introduced to his other researcher friends. We were chatting about a research proposal my friend was writing and about to leave because of that preoccupation. The friend comes up with the amount and as a parochial habit says 9. I am like 9 what, 9 lakhs, 0.9 million INR. So he laughs and I am surprised its in crores, 9 crores, 0.9 million INR which is 2 million US $. I am greatly surprised even when he mentions that this is a team proposal and they are writing to set a lab up. OK I am not using my self-invented notions of purchase power parity but still that’s a big amount. Big universities getting that amount in the USA labs and academic organizations is a big deal and comes up as a splendid news. But there is a trick here. When an individual or a component in such a lab or institute gets that amount its still made as a news of the University. Unfortunately news has more value than the value and output of the enterprise for the cause of science. And that’s something Indians have learned greatly from their newfound friends and ally, the Americans. This American is just a metaphor. And this is the newer dimension of our prosperity. We were always this prosper. At least I devoured Nescafe in high school. Read Times of India and imitated my future as a great cricketer, which I never became. My prosperity had fewer elements in me how to be an educated fund seeker. But I never wanted to seek.