By Aditya Sarda:
Human beings have a strange talent for adaptation. However hard the situation may be, after an initial phase of resistance and heroic attempts to maintain the status quo, they finally not only come to terms with it but also learn to live and thrive in it.
Our country is grappling with a number of problems- illiteracy, poverty, population and the list goes on and on. But the biggest of all these problems is that one to which people have closed their eyes and accepted it as a part of the system. By this definition, today corruption is the biggest monster in front of us.
Today people have grown so accustomed to it that they include bribes in their budget planning. They have no respect for laws and authority. They don’t fear punishment and penalty as they know that they can save their back by paying a paltry amount to some petty officer. Everything is on sale. You just have to pay the right amount to the right person.
When we ourselves are neck deep in corruption then why do we cry foul when some politician is caught? Isn’t this hypocrisy?
Last week I got an opportunity to visit Moradabad district in Uttar Pradesh to do a survey among the farmers of the region. Now everyone knows that India is a poor country with 37.2% of its population living below poverty line. But UP and Bihar are the crowns jewels of the goddess of poverty. For a person who has spent the major part of his humble life in metros, this experience came as a kick in the face. The first sight of the city convinced me that the rest of the week would not bring any nice experience either. And since my task was to visit villages and meet farmers, I mentally prepared myself to walk on broken roads, perform high jumps (or long jumps, depending on the situation) across overflowing drains and smell buffalo dung for coming days.
India being an agrarian society has a special regard for farmers and therefore all the governments offer various special schemes for them (more for the votes than for any social good). Every year, governments spend billions of rupees on these schemes and show off its farmer-friendly policies. But when you visit a village what comes as a real shocker is the rampant corruption.
All the Government offered schemes and benefits for the farmers are routed through a series of village and block officials- Sarpanch, Gram Pradhan, Block Divisional Officer, Secretary and many more. These people have the divine power to decide the beneficiaries and they know how to make the full use of their powers. In every sphere, the favorites are favored and the needy are ignored. Millions and billions spent by Government are siphoned off, everyone takes their share and the scheme is declared a ‘big success’.
The result of all this sham is that most of the famers in the villages are still living under the pre-independence circumstances. For them nothing has changed. Electricity poles have been erected but they get to see action only for a few hours in a day and that too at abysmally low voltage. Good schools and health care are still far-fetched dreams. Agriculture is still dependent on the vagaries of nature and mercy of money sharks.
It was a very humbling experience. When we urbanites complain about our lives and curse administration for cutting power for 2 hours, we do not realize that this much is what the people living in villages all get. These are the people who work the hardest in the entire country to feed you and me and still face difficulties in feeding their own families.
All the governments have failed in emancipating rural India. And these villagers, disgruntled, when head to the cities in the hope of getting a decent life, people like the Thackereys make their lives hell there.
More than 60 years after independence, when we celebrate and cherish our freedom everyday, savor new opportunities and relish the best of the physical comforts, just think once about those struggling people. For what fault of theirs have they been left out and ignored in the process of national development? How and when did India, the nation of villages, turned its back towards more than 65% of its population?
It’s time that we realize that the development of India is not possible as long as all, and I mean all, people do not enjoy the same benefits.