Quest of we the people of India is a long walk, not hopeless

The Parliament elections were cacophonic as they are meant to be. There was no symphony, just noise and deafening sloganeering.
For representative purposes
For representative purposesExpress Illustrations | Sourav Roy

BENGALURU: The big day is today. It is our day. You may not read this column because all of us will be glued to election results and who is going to walk the ramp for the 1.44 billion Indians. The grand finale; of seven-phase polling for the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies spanning across 28 states and 8 union territories that began on April 19 and concluded on June 1, is unfolding in the country and being watched the world over. One of the two camps will win and after the frenzied and deafening celebrations the dust will not settle. What have we learnt from these elections? Anything to take home? Anything that we would have made as a memorable quote and scribbled in our diary or notebook?

The Parliament elections were cacophonic as they are meant to be. There was no symphony, just noise and deafening sloganeering. This was the grandest opportunity for our political representatives to say something that would stay with us, calm our frayed nerves and give us some hope of grandeur, of thought, dialogue, vision and memory.

We have had almost all of them vowing to protect the Constitution but hardly anyone, who could raise the bar on thought, or challenge us to think beyond the stereotype. India is not a monolith. It is a rich cohesion of diversity, differences and opinions. We have coexisted with all our differences and diversity. Why is there no new thought that makes us sit up, mull over it and revisit it whenever there is a doubt? Why do we quote from legacy and bygone thought leaders?

Unfortunately, all we got to hear through the election campaigning were political gimmicks; them breathing down our necks to tell us how fortunate we are to get their grace in terms of guarantees. Is this the grand vision of this grand country? They tell us that sections of society need their benevolence and charity. For how long? Is there a time frame by which everyone will be on their own without the crutches? The thought itself, of us all at various socio-economic levels walking the path on our own is so empowering, enduring and endearing.

With caste lines deeply entrenched in our psyche, the ongoing effort is to create a race of alms, not livelihood seekers. The vision for implementing universal education begs for an adequate number of government schools, teachers and infrastructure across the length and breadth of India. It’s ironic to see paintings and pictures of Ambedkar, Gandhi and incumbent heads of state in schools staring at dirty, empty classrooms and children struggling with their reality of abject poverty and violence at home.

If the government does not have resources to give employment, then teach our young people skills at the school level. They will find dignity in labour and livelihood. If there is a commitment to universal health, clean up the mess in government hospitals. Make government schools and hospitals worthy of people’s trust. Rote education is meaningless. Teach children how to fend for their lives through skill and life skill training. They will not ask the government for doles.

The idea of startups is not new. Go to the back lanes of all your upscale shopping areas and you will see startups doing thriving business. What they lack is scale, certification and support. The idea of ‘political’ or ‘vote bank’ charity defeats equitable progress and honourable living and robs the young of aspiration. If there is no aspiration there will be no achievement. There will be no grand vision of this supremely grand country of ours. India is not a backstage player on the global map. Indians need to be comfortable with being Indian. The messaging has to come from within each of us. Elections are over and we have elected us, we the people of India.

(The writer’s views are personal)

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