Vir Sanghvi’s Counter Point article, entitled, “Independence Day reflections from London”, which he posted on 13 Aug 2010 08:47 p.m., seems to be floating in cyberspace as a ‘forward’ re-titled, “The new look at India by the arrogant British”! In the past two months, it has appeared twice in my Inbox – and perhaps it won’t be the last time, am quite certain. Well, the first time around, although I was peeved, and while I pondered over the writing, I too, in turn, just forwarded it to some folks on my contact list. However, this morning, here’s what I wrote back to my India-based friend who sent it to me…
“When I read it a couple of months back, I said to myself… this is the same 350 year-old view of India when the Brits’ greedy eyes saw the wealth in India, and wanted it for grabs… just as they did in other ‘Commonwealth’ nations across the globe. Indians were gullible then too, and were taken in easily by all the sweetness and sweet talk… only to suffer, for centuries that followed!
Again, what amazes me is that Vir Sanghvi speaks only to (and of) the elite few of India… what “effortless rise of India” is he talking about? That too, in “just less than two decades”! He has blindfolded himself to the fact that millions of Indians have toiled with their blood, sweat, and their lives, for several decades (and centuries)… and they continue to do so… with little benefit for themselves! The growth he refers to as being “just short of miraculous” is ‘the lopsided, convenient, good, warm, fuzzy feeling’ sort of view that such speakers-publishers-editors provide; sweeping under the carpet, and totally disregarding the fact that even tiny little nations such as Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines, and even Thailand have achieved way more in just two decades; we won’t even mention China (since it’s large), although we’re aware that they, notwithstanding all their inherent evils, are giving the US and the world a run for their money!
Yeah, one can argue that why is it that I – who escaped the woes of India – am so vehemently deriding Vir-speak. Well, that’s because I do not belong to the elite 1%; I toiled in India, but lived under conditions just a wee bit better than those of the slum-dwellers. Despite my hard work, the basic necessities such as a clean shelter, clean water, & hygienic living conditions were outside my reach. When I stepped on the street, despite paying my taxes and dues, I still had to cope with ‘the system’. It was not easy for me, not then, and not now if I opted to return and live there. More than 3/4 of my life I’ve lived in India, and have every right to feel the way I do today. Although I live in North America, it has never been ‘home’ for me. Ironically, was my ‘home’ i.e. India, ever comfortable for me? Encountering gender discrimination, and class discrimination, I lived for the better part of my life there, struggling (and yes, I’m aware, I wasn’t alone in it… millions of others suffered then, as they do now). Even today, be it in England, the US, or in India… only those with money have a voice!
Vir Sanghvi has that voice that we’re listening to, since he has wealth ( it’s a safe assumption), he’s always been among those elite few… not without it could he have had the luxury and ‘good fortune’ of a Mayo College education, not to mention Oxford! The rest usually follows. Money attracts money, as well as the moneybags! The point of all this is not that I’m envious of his good fortune, or of his successful career thus far, nor of his fame! He’s entitled to his opinion, his fame and fortune… just as that poor boy was, from Slumdog Millionnaire, whose fortune changed, making it his turning-point!
Read between the lines, and it appears that Vir Sanghvi is more than secretly (and openly) pleased, that now the West looks up at India (but note that he does not say ‘Indians’), and that they’re sucking up to India. But hey, say if the West did not verbalize their changed opinion of India, would Vir Sanghvi truly believe that India has made this ‘miraculous’ progress? It’s almost as though even today, India needs recognition from the West; the West must ratify India’s progress, without which Indians will not believe it one way or another. But what do the GDP numbers say? How do they compare to those of similar nations whose progress was impeded in the past, and yet, in the last 3-4 decades those very nations have galloped away to glory! What do health figures speak? Is India anywhere close to the ‘finishing line’? Has India arrived? Soon, there will be yet another round of ‘forwards’ – patting one’s own back for say e.g. Aryabhatta’s role in math; or Sushruta… India’s very own… father of surgery, from past centuries! Just as Vir Sanghvi sings praises, and refers to ‘mark of quality in such areas as computer software’! Isn’t that an ignoramous statement? Where is India’s equal to Google or Apple? No doubt, India is great at leap-frogging into a new era e.g. no phone to cellphone for even roadside vendors! Of course, ‘outsourcing’ – the buzzword of India’s first decade in the 21st century. Innovation and quality products still rise from nations far from India!
India has plenty… harnessing that potential is the challenge. Valuing what is in hand, unleashing the indigenous potential, and recognizing it from within, should be elemental.
Do check the following links, and then compare the data to similar data for other nations.
Check others, if you are interested… or, have time… remember, we are not the 1%… we have to work… words alone are pointless!”