I originally wrote this post, as you will read ahead, some time in January 2016 but never got around to publishing it. So, here it is. Kindly correct me wherever my younger self went wrong or expressed bias. No hard feelings, please.
I came across a small box next to an article in this month (January 2016)’s issue of the Reader’s Digest, India, and the views of the writer just made me want to shake him up a bit…
[And which also reminds me of one more thing that I read in the same issue under… Uh, let’s just ignore this line for now; I can’t remember what I wanted to mention here.]
When will this country and its people understand that growth, development – or whatever economic technical mumbo jumbo name you want to give it – is best measured qualitatively and even then, not merely through numbers?
When will they understand that just because the literacy rate has upped a bit in the last decade or so, it does not mean that more Indians are actually literate? You have to be able to feel the difference, to claim that a ___ percent increase has made a difference.
When will they understand that a greater number of Indians with access to the Internet, or a higher count of mobile internet users does not mean that we are developing? Heck, I couldn’t think of anything worse than an increasing number of uneducated, uncontrollable minds getting their hands on the Internet.
When will they understand that everything is not okay?
That what we boast of now will help us nowhere in the long run?
That what we should focus on is educating the masses?
(And actually put the education cess money to use for the purpose for which it was imposed, and make sure that every paisa is accounted for? Of course, now they don’t have to account for it separately… But, what about all that money which was collected in the last decade?! What happened to that?)
That an educated society will automatically learn to
- respect the traffic rules
- not throw trash on the streets
- speak in quieter, polite tones
- behave in a respectful manner with one and all
- protect the environment
- care for the safety of others
- realize that doing everything in self-interest is not the way to go?
Imagine the wonders that a country (especially, India) with educated people can bring about:
- lower noise pollution (everyone who is a human gets headaches from honking car horns; you are not the only one!)
- lower air pollution (who needs the odd-even rule?!)
- heck, lower (all kinds of pollution)! (no one who is educated enough will choose to wash his/her clothes by the riverside…)
- safer roads (if you call yourself educated, but refuse to wear a seatbelt because it is “uncomfortable” or choose not to wear a helmet because it “ruins your hair,” just promise me that you will never show me your face… EVER.)
- responsible drivers (I am pretty sure educated people will know that a red light means you have to… STOP! Hello?!)
- cleaner roads (a lot more will get done by cleaning minds than by cleaning pockets with the imposition of the Swachh Bharat cess…)
- attract tourists AND make them want to come back a second time (and not just so that they can take vicarious pleasure in sympathizing with supposed victims of a “third world country…”)
- peace and understanding (if you are educated enough, you are probably going to have a high tolerance level because India is a diverse country and it is not going to get any less diverse any sooner, so you will be expected to not add fuel to the fire either literally or by going on strikes or filing lawsuits because a small comment hurt your religious sentiments)
- nice, kind, polite, soft spoken people… everywhere (this is all I ask for… because only the educated will understand that tit for tat works both ways)
Oh, and since we were talking about the Reader’s Digest, let’s also get one thing straight. To Mr. Naseeruddin Shah who wishes for India this New Year, “the disappearance of all religions from the face of the earth,” with all due respect Sir, why not adopt a much more practical stance as H.D.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj exhorted for during his address at the Millennium World Peace Summit held at the United Nations,
“… should not dream of only One religion in the world, but dream of a world where all religions are One – United.”
Because of course, religion is here to stay. It is our attitude towards it that will determine what kind of effect it will have on our lives.
What’s your take?
DISCLAIMER: My views are my own and in no way do I wish to hurt anyone’s sentiments. If you disagree with anything that I have written, you are welcome to express your views in the Comments section below, and I shall be more than willing to have a healthy discussion on the same. No lawsuits, please. Let us advocate the peace and understanding mentioned in the post.