Indian farmers won’t retweet but foreign economists will RT their visions

Suman doesn’t go to bed, literally. He is rather forced to sleep along with all the other members of his family on the floor of his thatched hut. He wakes up at 5 am, not because he has to go office but doesn’t like the sight of defecating people around him while he is attending nature’s call. Suman is 21, has had a chance of visiting Bangalore once. He hasn’t heard about twitter but does know that people can send/receive letters without the help of a postman/post office. Suman’s story is not unique but a typical example of a rural youth in 21st century India. Suman can be anyone. Suman can also be a village girl, a unisex Indian name.

Peeps like Suman are clueless and sympathetically oblivious about everything. He is like the Natha of Peepli Live [India's official entry for the 83rd Academy Awards] who decides to commit suicide to save his land and to save his family from becoming homeless, after which his family will receive heavy compensation for his death. Farmers keep on becoming Natha(s), and they die unlike the character of the flick, but who cares?

As long as India’s GDP is growing at well above 8% and you can also make that figure 9%(thanks to the statistical manipulation we’re experts at), nobody really cares, do you?

What everybody really cares about is the BSE Sensex and NSE index. Till they are growing at around 1.8% weekly, nobody wants to be bothered. We have time to fight over whether someone was born at a particular place for more than 50 years. We have time to engage in rhetoric about Kashmir solution. If this still is not enough, we painstakingly move our ass to twitter and utilize our intellect, time and internet to the most powerful effect, we can come up with.

In a country, which shamelessly boasts of the ever exploding number of obscenely high net worth individuals, there is little hope for Suman or Natha. In a country which is blind to the fact that twitter won’t support their rebellion (if any), there is no hope for anybody for that matter.

“Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires” writes Malcolm Gladwell in this article. True!

Hope is a bad thing, it always lead to despair. More so, in the case of Indians, we are born enthusiastic with dreams of conquering the world, but this smoothly fades out and a cynical outlook is what we are left with. Life is unfair, true.

In a country which is more concerned about altering things which are functioning well to transforming them to laggard government institutions, you don’t have to be smart to guess where your future lies if all this continues without any interruption. I’m referring to the IIT-JEE, the entrance exam which is the primary reason for the stellar respect people have for Indian techies in foreign-land. The HRD ministry always gets itself into such territories which are controversial and detrimental. Be it the issue of lowering the fees of IIM, introduction of OBC reservation, creation of umpteen no. of IIT and IIM campuses which does no good than diluting the standards which are already facing tremendous resource crunch, in terms of hostel, lecture-rooms and more importantly quality faculty. Why don’t you look into primary education, HRD ministry?

However, if you believe in some kind of magic, miracle or whatever you call it, you should sense change. India is going to transform itself from an agrarian economy in which farmers struggle to an economy which thrives on its prospering farmers. Yes, this is near not too far. Twitter and Facebook won’t help them. Ubiquitous cell phones, satellite Television, primary education, dissemination of modern agricultural practices, etc. would certainly help. We don’t need to retweet (copy) anybody to be a progressive nation. India at present is far behind China by any standards. India’s export figure ($176.5 billion) is just a fraction of China’s ($1.2 trillion). Unemployment in China (4.2%) is less than half of what prevails in India (10.7%). But, what should make you happy is the promising future, which lies ahead. It’s always the youth that drive any kind of revolution, protest movement, a much needed change. It’s the demographics of India which puts India at a better place than most countries. India outshines China in terms of the youth percentage. India is going to add 136 million working-age people, much higher than China’s 23 million. This is the only cookie India has, and if it judiciously uses this gift to survive the winter maybe we could benefit of the spring, summer and monsoon ahead.

The secret to India’s growth lies in the villages of India, the rustic face of India which is always overlooked and we talk of the swank T3 terminal at New Delhi, instead. Even the corporates have got this, and are doing their homework well. Coca-Cola brainstorms and comes up with a new marketing strategy to sell in smaller sized bottles and which is apparently very similar to the introduction of sachet-business model. The policy makers will have to follow soon, and come up with plans and strategies specifically designed for Indian villages and not inspired(and bluntly copied) from international white papers on policy, case-studies, etc. They need to address the problem which is Indian, so the solution by all sorts of imagination should be Indian too. We can’t retweet (copy) someone else’s model and impose on our different rural challenges. We need to come up with a plan. Focus should be on primary education and not in secondary education which is already driven by demand-supply law. Much of our attention should be to make our villages a better place to live, so that the reckless migration to cities stops. We need to foster an environment that transforms our villages and equip them with all basic amenities. No one should feel cheated and less empowered in Indian villages. The village economy needs to grow at 8% too
We can’t progress till we are indulged in age-old useless debates about Babri-masjid demolition and anyways the recent Allahabad high court judgement to me is a no surprise. It was always meant to be that. The judgement also termed as “village panchayat judgement” is the classic example of a matured political conclusion. We need to move forward and we are doing that too. As M.J. Akbar writes,

“The impoverished have understood a simple, important, over-riding reality: poverty is not communal. There is no shortage of places for prayer in our country. There is, however, a shortage of self-respect, since every hungry stomach in our country is a sharp slap on the face of the idea of India. 2010 is a hundred years away from 1992.”

We have matured from the experiences of early 1990s. Now we no longer dread or are provoked by speeches like, “SaugandhRam Ki Khaatein Hain Mandir Wohi Banayenge”. Period

Despite all these, we don’t need to change our values and customs. We just need to come up with an Indian solution to an Indian problem. We don’t need to retweet. Everybody else should retweet us.
Indian farmers won’t retweet but foreign economists will RT their visions. Jai Jawan Jai Kisan!
This post is dedicated to Lal Bahadur Shrivastav Shastri, India’s 2nd Prime Minister, whom we tend to forget on 2nd October, his birth date.