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Developed or underdeveloped?

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I met My friend Ace Political Expert ( APE)  at the University Library who had come to return Abdul Kalam’s book ‘2020 – A Vision for the New Millennium ’ .

In his book, Dr. Kalam had predicted India would be a developed country by 2020.

As we went to the canteen for coffee I thought this was the best time to have APE’s opinion on India’s progress towards becoming a developed country.

 

As I sipped coffee, I asked, ‘Do you think India is still a developing country despite so much of progress one sees around?’

‘We are either ‘Developed’ country or ‘Underdeveloped’. In fact we were never a developing country!’ Said, APE.

 

APE is more like Jairam Ramesh. His views will always startle and raise some hackles, invariably.

‘You’ve quite  an extreme point of view.,, This kind of Economic Lemma would’ve made members of the G-20 squirm in their seats. You seem to be writing a new World Economic Order..’

Stirring his coffee once more APE continued, ‘Let me explain. We are the Software Czars of the world.  Software from Indian companies are routinely used by Fortune 500s, London Metro and even Governments, no matter even if they are sometime called as ‘Bodyshops..’

‘That’s true’.

‘But let’s see how our own Government uses this. Our Ministry of ‘Home’ Affairs – MHA -makes a ‘hotchpotch’ even while preparing a simple list of ‘Alleged terrorists hiding in Pakistan’.  No doubt Ministry of Ham-handed Affairs has latest computers, hardware and software. But they make silliest of mistakes when compiling a list of names.  No doubt, these are ‘genuine’ errors. Further, our officers from CBI –er,  Central Bungling Investigations, carry expired warrants  to Denmark to bring back Kim Davy who dumped arms in Purulia more than a decade back. All these genuine errors make us an ‘under developed’ country.

‘Very interesting’.

‘India is the world’s largest Democracy’ in the world and  is foremost amongst the ‘developed Countries’.   Still only a Prime Minister’s daughter or son has a better chance of succeeding him or her. Ditto with Chief Minister in State after State. Our so called Leaders are shortsighted and cannot see beyond their sons and daughters.

 We have a large number of elected Legislators who are known thugs, molesters, plain crooks who have been handpicked by political parties as well as by voters. In that respect we are still an ‘under-developed’ country.’

 

‘Amazing! Your theories are game-changers in politics’.

‘We are as developed as any other country clocking a routine 9% growth-rate year after year, which even most  Developed countries can only hope for.’

APE asked for a second cup of coffee.

‘Most countries are jealous of us’.

‘Yet we have become a scam-ridden Country aided by some of the most amazing decisions made by a Government. Whether it is a Minister, businessman or a bureaucrat – they all gang up to cheat the country of crores of rupees. Our growth rate is offset by the enormity of corruption that stalks the country. That is where we are still an underdeveloped country!’

‘Indeed!’

 

‘Our Government and Private hospitals boast of state-of-art MRI, CT Scanner, CathLab etc.. and have some of the best doctors in the world.  Treatment is free in government hospitals but yet the patient has to bribe his way at every stage for getting his blood samples collected, for tests, for getting a bed, bribe ward boys, nurses and to the doctors for getting treatment… Here again we are both developed and underdeveloped at the same time.’

 ‘You have quite a few examples!’

‘I can give some more..  after Green and White revolution we started harvesting bumper crops in Wheat ,Rice and also in Banana.  As a developed nation in Agriculture we even export to other countries.. but we  don’t build  simple silos to store the harvest grains with the result  year after year they rot in rain or shine  and they become unfit to eat even as children in some parts of the country are famished and die… that is where we are a top underdeveloped country’!

‘Whew!’

‘We have some of the best schools and bright students , the envy and fear of even America’s president. But quite a few  of our children cannot get education and end up as largest Child Labour Force  in the  world working in dingy hidden cracker factories, chai shops, dhabas and restaurants. That is where we are still underdeveloped country.’

‘Indeed. Quite shameful’.

As we finished coffee, it was time to leave. My head was reeling with APE’s hypothesis.

‘When do you think this will change?’ I asked.

‘We are like this only, living in past and future simultaneously’, concluded the APE.

                                                                  ……………

E.R. Ramachandran

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