[Assam] From the Sentinel
jaipurschool at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 25 14:58:32 EST 2005
The lady has no solutions -- only problems. Thats what I do not like about Journalists - most of them.
Chan Mahanta <cmahanta at charter.net> wrote:
*** A dose of reality !
India from Raisena Hill
ON THE SPOT
No Indian city is as removed from the realities
of India than New Delhi and last week I was
reminded of this in the most surreal way. By New
Delhi I mean not the old Moghul city that lies
on the edge of the Red Fort or the new suburbs
that sprawl in ugly disorder towards the borders
of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan but that
part of the city that Edwin Lutyens built in the
dying days of the British Raj. Lutyens was
building an imperial capital worthy of the
British empire, so at its heart, on a high hill,
he built a sandstone palace fit for a Viceroy,
distant from the squalid realities of native
When native rulers took over the reins of
governance from the Viceroy they must have
realized that the palace on the hill was
inappropriate accommodation for a socialist
Prime Minister, so it was used instead to house a
more ceremonial personage, the President, and
renamed Rashtrapati Bhawan. Last Tuesday, at the
request of The Indian Express newspaper, the
President of India came down from his palace to
the lesser Taj Palace hotel to address a select
group of invitees on 'empowering' India.
To listen to the President we gathered early.
Security is always a nightmare. After being metal
detected, body searched and having bags checked
for dangerous objects and mobile phones tested
for bombs, we waited an hour for the man many
regard as the most popular President ever, the
'people's President,' which is why it came as
such a surprise that he should be as removed
from the realities of India as the Viceroy may
once have been.
The President used a computer to give us a power
point presentation of his idea of an empowered
India which would be a knowledge society linked
by the 'grids' of knowledge, e-governance and
society. With the eagerness of Alice in
Wonderland he took us through an India that does
not exist. Listen to a small sample.
''Societal grid consists of Knowledge Grid
inter-connecting universities with
socio-economic institutions, industries and R &D
organizations; Health Care Grid,
inter-connecting the health care institutions of
government, corporate and super specialty
hospitals, research institutions, educational
institutions and pharma R & D institutions;
E-governance Grid, interconnecting the central
government and state governments and district
and block level offices..''
It was not President APJ Abdul Kalam's confused
jargon that was disconcerting so much as his
total disconnect with Indian realities. Is he
aware that computers need electricity to work?
Is he aware that the average Indian is lucky if
he can get a couple of hours of electricity a
day? Is he aware that the knowledge society is
fueled by electricity and that one of India's
biggest problems is that we have been unable to
generate even enough for every Indian home to
have a light bulb and a fan?
The President talked of 'virtual universities'
and 'tele-medicine' as if he were living in some
advanced Western country and when at the end of
his Alice in Wonderland address some members of
the audience tried asking him real questions he
brushed them away. A doctor rose to point out
that tele-medicine could hardly be a replacement
for basic healthcare and he launched into a
convoluted description of his 'health grid'.
In the audience were the parents of Manjunath,
the official who was killed for his honesty by
corrupt petrol pump owners, and they asked what
plans he had to stop honest officials being
killed for being honest. He said he was aware
that Manjunath was a righteous man who came from
a righteous family and we must strive to make
more righteous families. Great! But, how?
The President seemed not to have noticed last
week's Star News sting on MPs making lakhs of
rupees out of every contract they handed out
under their local area development scheme.
Corruption was a problem, of course, but we must
not allow a 'problem' to become 'captain' of our
lives we must be the captain of the problem.
After finishing his 'interactive session' the
President drove off in his cavalcade of
limousines and I set off towards Haryana in
pursuit of a story. I drove past Gurgaon with its
glittering glass offices and salubrious suburban
apartment blocks and watched plump, middle-class
children play in parks filled with trees and
ornamental ponds and then suddenly the landscape
changed. The real India reappeared.
Wide roads gave way to dirt tracks that led to
villages of open drains and air so polluted that
even the trees seemed coated with sludge. I saw
people eating at restaurants built by stagnant
ponds in which barefoot children and mangy dogs
played. I drove past private clinics and
government healthcare facilities that were
primitive by today's standards and towns that
looked like slums. Haryana is one of India's rich
The landscape I describe is less than fifty
kilometers from Rashtrapati Bhawan. I recommend
that before the 'people's President' makes his
next speech about empowering India he take a
short drive without his cavalcade. He could
discover that neither Bharat nor India are ready
for his wondrous plans.
assam mailing list
assam at assamnet.org
5121 Lackwanna ST
College Park, MD 20740
1-202-215-4328 [Cell Phone]
Ed.M. - International Education Policy
Harvard Graduate School of Education,
Class of 2005
To help you stay safe and secure online, we've developed the all new Yahoo! Security Centre.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the assam