A NRI perspective on the rapid changes in India- No footpaths, No roads

September, 2005

From : Dr Joglekar Adhiraj


I work in UK and was in India on a short visit. I felt like sharing some thoughts. It was a great coincidence, my reading Kalam's book the night before the presidential speech (on 14/8/05). I have not seen a President who combines excel generated charts put on power point like presentation in his speech. He spoke well and has called on the Nation to become self-sufficient in the energy sector by 2030.

The country is changing rapidly. Pune has several multiplexes, each with half a dozen movie screens, food malls, shopping plaza's etc. Tesco/Walmart like stores are opening all over. The middle-income group is ever growing and spending more than ever before. Anyone with a decent job is now on the property ladder. High-rise apartments reach the sky all-round. Pune already has digital TV- 125 channels, with Electronic Program Guide and the works.

It seems we are headed in the right direction. But I say 'it seems’ as I am not convinced.

I am not certain we have got our priorities right. Grass root problems remain and are growing. Corruption in every sector, including health, is worse than ever before. There is no cultural shift, people still spit & there is filth everywhere. There is no respect for a 'padchalak' - cars, rickshaws, buses & two-wheelers, all converge on you. Clearly, they will rather kill you than be late to work; they will rather kill you than get their vehicle damaged by a pothole.

The PM, in his independence speech boasted 'x kilometers sadak banayenge' - But where are the footpaths, where are the safe crossing points, where is the lane discipline, where is the public transport (the only way we will ever become energy self-sufficient) and where are the basic infrastructures that ensure health and safety in new townships with high rise apartments surrounded by shanties?

The service industry is growing, but at a cost - our agricultural industry is receding. 2030 will bring self - sufficiency in energy but we will be importing rice and dal.

Swarajya maza janma-siddha adhikar ahe, but so is self-respect and dignity. I have a right to live in a society where I can cross the road safely to buy chane-footane alongside a choice of driving to a superstore's car park.

I suppose we need a movement that brings an end to 'sab chalta hai' attitude. We need to put an end to the denial of reality around us and stop saying 'mera Bharat mahan', instead we need to make it so by way of responsible action and developing a sense of ownership.

I am hoping the IT community in India can spread the word, start a small campaign.

Dr Joglekar Adhiraj MBBS, MD, DNB, DPM, MRCPsych

28 Richens Close, Hounslow TW3 1PL, UK

Dr Joglekar Adhiraj

The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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