By Vishal V Kale:
India is known as a land of diversity; one of the most clichÃ©d descriptions about India has been its unity in diversity aspect, and this can be readily seen in the varied linguistic and cultural traditions that span across our land in addition to the religious diversity. This is a known positive about our motherland, and widely acknowledged as such. And yet, within this diversity, within this cultural cosmos that is India, is hidden a set of several “Indias” whose divergent agendas are a cause of concern. I call them Three Indias and a Bhaarat.
The first India is the so-called upper strata, the educated elite — and by that, I mean the educated English-spouting elite of the cities. Specifically, the educated elite in the top cities of India, who are discernibly a distinct identity group, and are a pretty exclusive group. These people stick together like glue on most issues, and breaking into this select group is extraordinarily difficult for someone from Bhaarat. These are the people who read The Economic Times, The Times Of India, The Business Standard, India Today etc. These are the people who frequent your pubs and CCD outlets. These are the people who can be spotted in malls and cinemas. These are the well-dressed and nattily turned out ladies and gentlemen in swank offices, and young boys and girls in elite colleges that dot the landscape of the bigger cities in India.
To the members of this exclusive club GDP growth, economic growth, posh cities, swank highways are the important parameters of a nation. To these people, it is the companies and the salaries and PL statements of these companies that determine the real status of a person and by extension, the country. These are the people who would readily pay up a bribe to achieve something, on the specious argument that “My job depended on it/everyone does it/without it approvals don’t come etc”. These are the people who are too important to vote, or don’t consider anti-corruption an electoral agenda and say nothing of inclusive growth. In fact, most would not even be aware of the need for inclusive growth, and are staunch proponents of the trickle-down theory.
The first India is in a majority as compared to the second India. These are a set of people identical in language and attitudes to the first India. But there is a significant difference, these citizens of the second India are beginning to get frustrated with things as they are, and are just beginning to root for change. The members of the second India club are getting more and more vocal in their demands for clean governance, zero-corruption, effective administration and swift punishment for defaulters. Some of these Indians are beginning to realize the pull of Indian culture, and are increasingly throwing off the western masks for a distinct pro-Indian outlook and identity, with an increasing preference for all things Indian in terms of culture. The second India is the one which is asking the real tough questions — where are we, where are we headed, how to solve these problems, how to clean politics, what is real growth and what is the political alternative?
This, the second India, is an amazingly complex group, as it has many sub-groups with widely diverging views and demographic profiles. The vernacular speaking successful businessman is as much a part of this group as is the anti-corruption brigade. The optimistic go-getter who leaves the first India to try to make a difference in Bhaarat is as much a part of this India as is the Indian-culture-is the-best claimer. The one defining characteristic of this group is that all of them are unwilling to accept the status quo and are rooting for change.
The first two Indias represent the creamy layer, the top 5%. The third India is the set of people who just don’t care, or are a part of the establishment. Here you will find the people who vote their caste. Here you will find the fundamentalists. Here you will find the political class. Here you will find the babus of the government. Here you will find the people who look at the problems, shrug, and move on. Here you will find an easy mobility between the first and the third India; they are in many cases interchangeable. Here you will find both the bribe takers and the bribe givers. Here you will find the I-Me-Myselfers. Here you will find the people who are not in the top rung; who were unlucky to miss out on the advantages of a metro upbringing, or of a top college. Here you will find those urban Indians who just don’t care one way or the other.
And with that, we come to Bhaarat. The only thing common in all the 3 Indias above is that all three don’t care about, or are not fully aware of Bhaarat. It is only in the second India that there is the beginning of an awakening towards Bhaarat and its plight. The First India is not even aware it exists, let alone how it lives. In Bhaarat,Â you will find the real problems of India. Here you will find the farmer who commits suicide. Here who will find the farmer who cannot make a profit from his farms, and who has to double as a laborer, whose wife has to work as well as whose kids miss school so that the can work and earn to eat and fill their stomachs. Here you will find the starving beggars form Urban India. Here you will find the malnourished children. Here you will find the uneducated and unfortunate, who has nothing to do and nowhere to go. Here you will find the woman who has only 1 saari, sometimes even less. Here you will find bad roads. Here you will find despair. Here you will find hopelessness. Here you will find struggle, a struggle that has no end for generations to come. Here you will find the landless laborer. Here you will find the low-hygiene slums which the first three Indias do everything within their considerable power to avoid thinking of , let alone looking at. Here you will find the villages that still look like time has stopped. Here you will find the real India. And these Indians outnumber the other three Indias by a factor of at least 3 to 1, maybe more.
Unless the three Indias can come together, and take care of Bhaarat, unless the three Indias and Bhaarat can unite as one in political vision, national outlook, attitudes and access to basics like health and education — a developed and superpower India will remain a pipe dream. Unfortunately, The First and Third Indias don’t care; and it is they who have the power. The second India is our only hope, it has the momentum and the will. Let us all do all we can to ensure that all of India stands in solidarity.