24 October, 2020

Gods That Failed

Having been ruled so long by outsiders, we, the people, refuse to accept responsibility

illustration by Jayachandran
Gods That Failed
When I first came to live in Singapore nearly a decade ago, a taxi driver chuckled that Indians had rights but Singaporeans had rice. Ideally, the two need not be in conflict and, indeed, are not in the democratic market economies of the West. People in Britain and America enjoy both rice and rights, the noble vision that inspired India's tryst with destiny 55 years ago this week.

Things have turned out somewhat differently in practice. India lags behind Japan and China. Southeast Asia has marched far ahead. If India is a faltering giant with soaring pretensions whose proudest asset is its still unrealised potential, it is because we have failed ourselves. Not some single entity like the government or politicians or bureaucrats (though all must bear blame in greater or lesser degree) but we, the people, as a whole.

There are men and women of honesty and goodwill in India, many caring organisations that work with selfless zeal. Millions of Indians live in hopes of good governance that will meet their basic expectations. But the system itself is rotten and collapsing. It...


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