The Indian citizens had a lot to say about the Covid-19 Economic Relief Package recently announced by the government. This is a country where everyone has an opinion on how the country should be run and what the government should be doing to improve the state of affairs. This is perhaps a desirable attribute of citizens in a democracy. But then there are also the cynics who think that election day is a holiday and say, “Why bother? This is India and India will never change.”
When I hear such talk, I cast my mind to a rainy night in August. I had just finished my grocery shopping and realized to my dismay, that it was already 9:30. No rickshaw was heeding my call; I had no idea if they could hear me in the din. Suddenly, a rickshaw halted near me. “Get in,” said the driver who to my surprise was a woman! I have certainly never felt that safe before, coming home at 9:30 in a rickshaw. As I smiled at myself in the rear-view mirror, I had this thought with the utmost certainty, “This is exactly why India will change. We may go ten inches back every time we try to put one foot forward, but inch by inch we are going to get there.”
When the Greek ambassador Megasthenes came to India in the fourth century BC, he was amazed by the honesty and humility of Indians- he thought that Indians had an almost inherent goodness-all their actions were motivated by their desire to follow the path of goodness. The monetary system functioned smoothly: Houses and property were left un-guarded; loans were given without collateral or even the presence of a witness! It is indeed very surprising that we have evolved in a way that we feel the authority over us is here to exploit us but when given power we would leave no stone unturned to cheat those under us. This is completely in contrast to the concepts like RamaRajya where the king treats his subjects like children and they, in return revere him as God.
If we point a finger towards invaders for causing a decline in our value system, four fingers point towards us: Why weren’t we strong enough to stop the invasion? Why didn’t we bury the hatchet with our internal enemies and round up against the outsider? Despite having great intellectual resources, why couldn’t we come up with superior technology?
The truth is that what makes you stronger in one respect also makes you weaker in all other respects. If traditions and cultures preserved the social fabric of our country, overdependence on them also prevented more unorthodox ways of thinking. When you accept one idea, it is not necessary to abhor all others. Thus, playing the blame game is pointless. Tu Tu Mein Mein only results in one thing: creating an extremely bad impression of all parties involved.
I remember sitting in a taxi in Singapore, on our way to the airport for departure. When the taxi driver asks us to visit Singapore again, my father says to him, “You should visit India too.” “I hear that India is unsafe for women. The number of rape crimes is very high. Is that true?” and a really uncomfortable silence ensues. At the World Economic Forum 2020, India ranked 80th in the Corruption Perception Index, out of 180 countries and territories. Denmark and New Zealand, being the least corrupt countries were ranked first. In both cases, we are relating India with a lack of security, dishonesty, and untrustworthiness which are completely opposite to the idea India was founded on.
But then why did I feel that India is going to change? Why did I feel a glimmer of hope in a sea of discouragement? Because I remembered that it is the individuals who make up a nation more than the other way round. When a woman gets escorted safely to her home, it is India who wins. When you are about to throw a candy wrapper on the ground but you suddenly stop and catch yourself, it is India who wins. When a timely rehabilitation from PAL rescues a lost little puppy, it is India who wins. When a soldier takes a bullet for his motherland, when Sachin Tendulkar gets lots of cheers at any stadium in the world because of his dedication and humility, when Srinidhi Ramesh Shetty wins Miss Supranational for being friendly and helpful as much as for being beautiful, when Kailash Satyarthi receives the Nobel Prize, it is India who wins. I see so many people working with full dedication towards a cause they are willing to invest their every breath in. If you are working in the office long hours for your livelihood, if you work with sincerity and honesty, pat yourself on the back, you have worked towards India’s GDP. Whether we are recognized or not, appreciated or not, how can we forget that it is little acts that when summed up, amount to greatness?
Today, India is the fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy in the world with a nominal GDP of $2.94 trillion. However, as the whole world is going through a pandemic crisis, projections by the International Monetary Fund expect the Indian economy to contract by -4.5 percent in 2020. Today, the situation might be worrisome but we are a resilient bunch, we Indians. As an 8000-year old civilization, if one occurrence has been constant in our country, it is change. Like any other country, we have seen cycles of development and egalitarianism, followed by poverty and corruption, again to be toppled by better times. We have seen bad times and we have seen good times and we are working towards the best time ever.
The right action of even one individual can inspire millions or as seen in the movie Jai Ho, can start a chain of goodness. I see so many individuals trying to make a difference, bring about change. The greatest inspiration during this time has come from the medical community and from our soldiers on the border. Truly, we must relearn the spirit of sacrifice and oneness from them and care for our fellow countrymen during these times. As we rebuild our country, along with seeing the developing economy tag transform into a developed economy one, we would be equally happy to regain the trust of the world and most importantly, our own. And that makes the transition of India not only probable but inevitable.
-Isha Samant (One of the Prize Winners of Article Writing Competition 2020 in the 13-24 Years Age Group)
Picture Credits: indianyouth.net