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A tale of two Indias (Part I)

In spite of the chants from ‘India Shining’ (by BJP 3 years ago) to ‘India Poised’ (by Times of India, NOW) - neither the poverty nor the infrastructural weaknesses of India are hidden from anyone of us.

We all see child beggars on the roads everyday, inhale dust, cement and vehicular gases every hour, pass by the slums on the pavements and sniff the smell emanating from decaying waste in our neighbourhood. Each one of us is aware of the ‘two Indias’ and each one us realizes that the gap needs to be narrowed. And each one us, so I would like to believe, wants to do something about it!

But only some of us seem to be doing something about it. Anouradha Bakshi who runs ProjectWhy is one such individual. She says (in an email to her network of supporters) –

“Our lives are replete with the passing the buck syndrome, with trying to find someone to put the onus on. maybe it is time we are honest enough to realise that this has failed and that we need to look at ourselves and see how we can begin to change things.We all know that for the gap to narrow what is needed s education, better jobs, more awareness et al but were we to wait for things to happen then many more deaths [Ref: Noida child homicide] will occur.”

She goes on to say –

“From simply containing drop out rates which is how we [Project Why] began, we need today to take on the new challenge that beckons us: finding ways to bridge the gap and reach out to the other side of the invisible fence.”

The email indeed led me to introspect as to how we can contribute towards the cause of narrowing the gap. I realize that there are two ways to move towards the target, as anou puts quite aptly –

“There was just one way to start solving that problem and that was to try the process of narrowing the gap and laying foundations for eventual bridges.I guess it is easy to pontificate and many have been doing this. Long term solutions are necessary I agree but what can we do in the short term, in the now of the moment and that is where my thoughts led me.”

Unlike anou, my own thoughts rather tend to think of long term solutions. While short term solutions can lead to limited results which would serve as showcases and provide the much needed psychological succour, few of these can be replicated on a large scale.

In my opinion, the only long term method to narrow the gap between the two Indias is to engage in wealth creation. Wealth creation not only helps in increasing the economic opportunities available for the marginalized (but talented), it also puts pressure on the system to provide education and vocational re-skilling facilities.

Take for example the rise of the software industry - on one had it has thrown up thousands of jobs for software professionals. But there is another chain reaction it has triggered - the sale of computers.

Due to the imminent opportunity in the software markets, more and more middle class households are buying computers, resulting in increasing sales of computers and related stationary (CDs being the most common of them). This has in turn led to mushrooming of a computer assembly shop in every nook-and-corner which employ so many semiskilled individuals, whose skill sets otherwise are completely unsuitable for a ‘software’ business.

Another more evident side-effect is the rise in the number of offices which has led to high demand of housekeeping staff. But for the rise of this industry, many of these people would have been construction labourers. But the rise of corporate culture has led to housekeeping companies provide training and reskilling opportunities for these people to graduate to a slightly better economic activity.

Next Post: ‘We need to increase productivity’


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