Doing my bit for India

17 Sep 2006
Posted by Kiran

Some days back, I was reading through a blog posted on titled "The Demographic Disconnect". It was authored by Rishabh Bhandari, a lawyer from London. It made for interesting reading; it got me thinking about why the youth distance themselves from Politics.

If you stroll through today's +2 campuses and randomly ask the students around you what they aspire for as a career, you will probably hear a lot about IT, BPO, Marketing, Engineering, Medicine, so on and so forth; but, it would be the odd-man-out who aspires to get into the grind of politics. For that matter, you would be hard pressed to find any youngster who wants to do anything related to governance or social service. When I was in my pre-university, I certainly did not consider such options for a career. It never crossed my mind! Why is it that the Indian youth are so averse to actively getting involved?

I can understand why the thought of joining politics would be unsavory for the majority. Politics in India is seen as the bastion of the corrupt, pot-bellied hooligans who are only interested in gathering votes and currency notes for themselves; it is generally for those who don't give two hoots for the nation. The fact is that it is not just the youth but the majority of the Indian populace that have all but given up on the Indian Political system, which all perceive as being ruled by the uneducated, uncivilized goondas in the nation. Not many of us would expect a whole lot of good coming out of it.

Adding to that you have the deep-rooted corruption and inefficiency in almost every Government run organization; the picture doesn't look very attractive. Any person who decides to enter this field and tries to clean it up - even a bit - is only asking for trouble. Why would any sane man or woman want to enter this hell-hole and mess up his or her own life? The easier thing would be to just leave it as it is and just hope to God that the nation does not go to the dogs.

So is it really a doomsday scenario for India? Far from it!

The world is today sitting up and taking notice of India like never before. India is being mentioned in some of the most elite international circles today by the same nations that only a decade ago patronized us with their holier-than-thou attitude. If the Indian systems were so hopeless then certainly India wouldn't be where it is today - being viewed as an emerging power to be reckoned with, and perhaps, at the doorstep of being a superpower!

Surely if India can be discussed along these lines, something must be going right. I think a lot is owed to those visionaries: the scientists, the industrialists and the thought leaders, who don't get into petty politics but continue thinking big. To be fair, we also have quite a few politicians who have facilitated the Indian surge into the limelight.

However, to be very honest, I don't think India will make it to where it wants to be; not until the Indian society changes the way it thinks. In my view, the shackle holding back the Indian juggernaut is the society's absolute disregard for the greater good - the rampant apathy.

No one in India seems to really care for the society as a whole. We see people starving all around us; we see children dropping out of school and begging on the streets; but we never get involved. Most of us would shake our heads in pity, probably drop a coin into the brass bowl, and walk on. Few would really get involved. I have never been involved either.

We really don't have to join politics or do something radical to make a difference. Expecting every person to rise up in arms against the corrupt system would be unrealistic - it simply isn't going to happen. Opening orphanages or going into rural areas trying to make a difference for the people there is also not everybody's cup of tea.

But shrugging our shoulders and putting up our legs saying "What can a lone person do?" is also not the answer. There will always be two extreme viewpoints to any issue and the solution is usually somewhere in between.

There are things about India that I can't change. But there certainly are ways in which I can contribute. The realistic way for me to get involved in building a better India is to find those ways which allow me to contribute. What all of us really need to do is stop saying that we can't do anything.

My parents recently gave me an idea. They had gone out of their way to help keep our household maid's daughter from dropping out of school. When they described to me how they visited the school, spoke to the principal about the pupil in question, paid the requisite fees and ensured that the child can continue her education, it touched me. I could picture the faces of the happy child and the relieved mother. It really made me want to do something similar.

What do I intend do? Well, as I said I intend to do something similar. What exactly, I still don't know. I don't have all the answers and I can never hope to have all the answers.

My intention with this post was not to share some brilliant idea to transform India into a superpower overnight; the intention, or rather the hope, was to start a debate. The simple act of my parents proved to be very thought-provoking for me. It has ignited a desire within me to do as much as I can, to do away with the usual excuses that I cling on to.

I am sure there are people out there who care but are just as lazy or preoccupied as I am to do something about it. If all of us can really start putting some effort into contributing towards society without expecting something back, then I am sure we would be on our way to a better India.