The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Tuesday 21 August 2012


Another 15th August passed, marking 65 years this year to the moment when a nation had triumphed. What has followed the legacy since then has been both, a boon and bane. It is not pessimism but a reality to write here that the recent three-four years have given an upper hand to the ‘bane’ elements.

So there was much noise and less music. So there was much rubbish and less content. So there were proclamations and empty promises splashed all across once again – from full page advertisements in newspapers and extended-length clips on television to the every nook and corner of lanes and streets – from ruling and opponent mouthpieces to the industrial outfits to the wannabe politicos.

Welcome to the present reincarnation of the India’s Independence Day – differently seen by the political class than what the Indian populace perceives about it. And midst all this, come two routine events – presidential address to the nation on the eve of the Independence Day and prime-ministerial speech on the Independence Day.


I should say the language and style of Pranab’s speech was far more scholarly than Manmohan’s but when it comes to the relevance of the content, both were in the same league, all was like making castle in the air.

No one can say when the politicians would stop making larger than life speeches when they seldom look instilling confidence even in one needy life. Except style, Pranab had no particular content in his speech in the context of the stark reality of the day. Except on few parameters, the speech was more like touching all the pointers briefly to complete the quorum and so can be left at bay comfortably. But why to complain about that when it has become a tradition rarely broken. After all, he cannot be expected to be a Rajendra Prasad, or a Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, or an A P J Abdul Kalam.

Among other routine stuff enwrapped well in personal and historical anecdotes, he chose to lecture us on sanctity of the democratic institutions devoting a significant portion of his speech. He looked to point to this that we, the Indians, need to have trust in our leaders (the political class he belongs to?) and the ‘affiliated’ institutions.

Now don’t we know India’s democratic institutions have become, even if temporarily, synonymous with its corrupt leaders mingled across the party line. What else can be a more scathing proof than leaders like Shivpal Yadav advising bureaucracy that ‘if they work, they can steal a little’.  Shivpal Yadav is Public Works Department minister of Uttar Pradesh and brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is proving lifeline of the United Progressive Alliance government these days.

When politicians charged with murder, rape, loot, scam worth thousands of crores go scot free, it is foolish to expect any action would be taken against the likes of Shivpal Yadav. And Indian polity is crammed with multitude of politicians of similar hue, be it BJD in Odisha, BJP and Congress in various states, TMC in West Bengal, SP and BSP in Uttar Prafdesh, AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu, TDP in Andhra Pradesh, Left Front in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Corruption and authoritarian nature have become endemic among the ranks of all the political parties. See Mamata Banarjee’s antics (read acts of intolerance on even mild criticism).

Pranab’s intellectual speech looks hollow in the context of this stark reality for it does only lip-service to the most vital issue of the day – political and bureaucratic corruption. It doesn’t even mention the growing political intolerance.

Dear Pranab Babu, while quoting Mahatma Gandhi, could you think of the greed of the political and bureaucratic class that has made corruption the most widespread social malaise?

This is indeed a crisis time for the country as it can be said safely that almost of the politicians acquiring benches of state and central legislatures and its various bureaucratic wings are seen as corrupt and increasingly elite and authoritarian, scavenging on the taxpayers’ money. How can they be trusted then as Pranab Babu advises? When suspicion runs so deep, trust eventually becomes the casualty.

And apathy of such a political class is bolstered by poorly managed civil society run anti-corruption movements like India saw in the last 16 months. It is a war cry that India needs effective voices of dissent against the increasing political and bureaucratic corruption and political nepotism and intolerance. We indeed need a second freedom struggle, from the clutches of the corrupt and elitist polity. But the failure of the anti-corruption movement has again created a void on this issue emboldening the political and bureaucratic class.

Pranab’s speech had hangover of his recent political past that pushed him to go at length in justifying the political class in the garb of democratic institutions.

Remember Pranab Babu, we all Indians are not treated equal and the political class you hail from is the chief culprit in taking the common Indian to this mess.

Beyond that, his speech was a show sounding like coming from a president of India who is well read, seasoned and highly experienced. Some of the stats mentioned like India’s output in world manufacturing in 18th-20th centuries could well be the collectibles provided we come to know the methodology and exercise in reaching at the figures.

But, overall, Pranab looked charming on the screen while delivering the address. Listening to him was at-least not boring.


Now Manmohanji, we need to be linguistically superlative to explore apt superlatives for your increasingly repetitive and lifeless speeches and fake promises.

Manmohan Singh’s speech on August 15, 2012 was dull and routine as usual, inspiring nothing but sharp reaction on some more empty promises, the way he has been doing in past, especially in the last three years, the period of economic and political mismanagement that has seen country’s socioeconomic performance taking a nosedive.  Inflation has remained high; prices are skyrocketing irrespective of the inflation data; GDP growth has touched the nine-year low; and every major forecast is declaring tougher days ahead.

In place of inspiring confidence, Manmohan has now started epitomizing growing apathy of the ruling class. Apart from bizarre and insensitive statements of his brethren on sensitive issues like price rise and corruption, Manmohan, too, has regularly used his trademark catchphrase ‘I have no magic wand’ to shrug off responsibility.

His speeches have become so same and lifeless that one cannot expect something like honest introspection though he used the word in his speech. He spoke of tough times ahead attributing it to the national and international factors and advocated for reforms yet he and his party make compromises every other day.

Yes, we can give him some points on accepting two facts that his government has been ignoring for a long time – these are tough times for India and national factors, ‘too’, are responsible for the policy mess India is in now. But mere these words can never justify the scale of policy paralysis that his government has pushed the country in.

Beyond this, he goes on to beat the drum of his achievements (a questionable and debatable term for his government now)  like he does every year on completing one more year in the office; like his does on every Independence Day – presenting ‘his India growth story’ with statistical overdose that sounds like utopian in the present day India. No need to take pain in listing them out here though some stand out.

He says almost 100 per cent of the Indian villages are electrified now. Can you take it? Merely installing poles and wires won’t do anything when there is no electricity supply for days and weeks. 10-15 hours of daily outage has become routine in towns and cities across the country.  Lakhs of villages just see 3-4 hours a day of power supply. The country saw two worst Grid failures recently, proof enough for miserable power infrastructure of India.

He says now almost 100 per cent children of the age-group 6-14 are enrolled in schools. Now there has been a big question mark here owing to the ‘high enrolments but abysmally low attendance’ scenario in India. Quality of education is a farfetched thing with still high dropout rates.

He boasts of MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee) and NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) schemes – the fact is these two schemes have become dens of absolute corruption running in thousands of crores, ruining every other positive aspect of it. Except few customary steps under extreme media scrutiny, we are yet to see a comprehensive crackdown.

He didn’t forget to thank the farmers for their hard-work as the food reserves are good enough to meet the demand in a drought year but didn’t mention even a word about farmer suicides.

Comfortably numb he has been and he chosen to act same even this time. He tried to shift the major share of the blame on global Economy scenario for India’s ongoing Economy crisis. But the condition has so worsened, thanks to his government’s own wrongs, that the policy paralysis is being scrutinized intensely in the national and international media. The pressure of intense scrutiny might have forced him to do a face-saving by naming domestic factors, too, as reason for India’s crisis of the day.

His speech had no words about handling issues like corruption, black money and price rise but fleeting references. No one knows what amusement the UPA government gets when any of its representative talks about Lok Sabha passing the Lokpal & Lokayukta Bill. This bill is nothing but another sham from the political class aimed at preserving its interests first.

The way he has been ignoring critical issues in his speeches in the last three years ruins anything he has earned in the name of his personal integrity.

Thankfully, we didn’t see another hara-kiri come into play when Manmohan Singh chosen not to announce the ill-conceived ‘Har Hath Mein Phone’ scheme ( But no one can say if it was a late-dawned wisdom or political opportunism of biding time as the parliament session is on and given the way the scheme has drawn criticism, it would have given the Opposition a fresh arsenal to attack the government in the Parliament.

For how long we would be given fake promises that his government is working hard to improve the Economy scenario? Manmohanji, did you realize you now sound so ineffective that people have started ignoring your persona all together. Certainly, you would never have thought to leave such a legacy when you took the reign in 2004.

But that looks a certainty now.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister – please have mercy on your dear countrymen, brothers, sisters and dear children.

The current state of affairs in India needs some real stuff now – beyond fake promises and lip-service as has become the practice in the recent political history.


The high-flying words of Pranab Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh in their addresses to the nation on the Independence Day was nothing new but just yet another extension of the routine show of irresponsibility and growing apathy.

Such heavy words mashed with statistical articulations are intended to manipulate the ground realities. And the present government tries to shield itself behind the set of data with similar gambits, time and again. Manmohan Singh tried to present the near-utopian India story riding on statistical bravado only and ‘hopefully’ failed this time. (That we would come to know in upcoming assembly and general elections.)

Excesses! Two notable statistical excesses that we come across regularly are inflation and poverty line.

The government has its propaganda machinery ready whenever inflation figures come down. They never forget to emphatically say that the measures are working and soon the situation will be under control. But given the trend in recent years, inflations figures have remained on the higher side most of the time making the government run for  the  face-saving ‘magic wand’ sermon. And the prevailing truth, that prices have only gone up irrespective of where the inflation heads, nails the government.

Another controversial data set is the poverty estimation. It is a different political game altogether with still no official poverty line figure. Whatever that we use thanks to the Montekonomics as the poverty line standard leaves much to be done. But the government uses this abysmally low benchmark to browbeat about its poverty alleviation and social parity achievements.

A country as complex and poor as India needs holistic development and not just manipulation of statistical figures to show if the picture is really rosy. That is the cardinal reason the tools and figures used the world over fail to portray a good picture in India.

If we go by the universal set of data on quality of human growth – Human Development Index (HDI) – by the United Nations, we see the absence of this ‘holistic’ factor in the India growth story – a solid basis for the analyses based on the theme – growing disparity between India and Bharat – the gap between the Indian ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’.

If we take the 1991 economic liberalization that is attributed to be the alpha point of India’s economic power status of the day and see the reference years HDI, say 1991, 2001 and 2011, one can easily deduce the HDI figures tell us how poorly has India performed on its human growth story.

Now what is HDI? HDI is a composite statistic of different parameters to rank countries on their human development progress. The dimensions currently being used are life expectancy at birth, education standard in qualitative terms like mean and expected years of schooling and standard of living as reflected by per capita GNI in PPP terms.

India’s HDI rank in 1991 was 123 that has seen subsequent fall in 2001 (ranked 127) and in 2011 (ranked 134).

Its not the India has not grown economically in these years. In fact, its composite HDI points have gone up from 0.344 in 1980 to 0.547 in 2011.

YEAR                         HDI VALUE
1980               0.344
1990               0.410
2000              0.461
2005               0.504
2009               0.535
2010               0.542
2011               0.547

Let’s see what has been the decadal growth in HDI composite figures.

1980-1990 - 0.066
1990-2000 - 0.051
2000-2010 - 0.081

It is interesting. The decade that preceded the economic liberalization in India registered higher HDI figure growth. It might be the result of the liberalization policies adopted by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 that were stalled in 1987 but not completely reversed as had happened with the reform attempts of 1966.

But the Indian economy had started to take a rapid fall in late 80’s and the 1991 balance of payment crisis forced the government to open the Economy. It worked and ensured a period of high-digit economic growth further on with patches of gloom (like the one now). It can be said safely that the lower growth figure of the 1990-2000 decade was a result of the economic hara-kiri of 1991 and the Economy needed these many years to smoothen the patches and it created the base for higher growth in the next decade.

The highest growth figure of 0.081 in the 2000-2010 decade might well vindicate this assumption. But when we try to see it in consonance with the rankings over the years, instead of writing laurels, we need to be worried. And there are thinking souls, justifiably worried, except our policymakers who at their convenience easily criticise and dismiss reports like the UNDP HDI.

The high decadal growth figure and a consistently declining HDI ranking tell us this very clearly that honest efforts are not being made to ensure the ‘holistic’ human development and the social disparity is growing. And this disparity is of different type. It is not as if the rich are getting richer at the cost of poor getting poorer. It is true that there has been an increase in the income level of the Indians as a whole. But what is worrying is the pace of growth and the pace of the growing divide.

The wealthy and the neo-rich are getting richer at a much higher pace than the rate at which the poor are getting to the next higher level of living and as a result the wealth is getting highly concentrated in the hands of the economically well-to-do minority. Its direct consequence is the rising authoritarian behaviour among the ruling class (maximum are neo-rich). And one simply cannot expect from the profit-reaping business entities to don the mantle of social empowerment crusaders.

As a result, we are still witnessing the growing slum population. 52.4 million Indians were living in slums according to Census 2001. It almost doubled to around 93 million in 2011. Now that is more than population figures of many countries. A report says Indian slum population is expected to grow at 5% adding two million more every year. India in slums remains a sought-after subject for western researchers and documentary makers.

As a result, the country’s ruling class still forces the millions above the poverty line by defining the average figure of Rs. 25 a day income (so Rs. 750 a month) as the poverty benchmark. Let alone surviving, no one can expect even a peaceful death in this meager some.

As a result, we are still global laggards in terms of serious elementary education and quality higher education. We produce hundreds of thousands of professionals every year but the quality remains elusive.

As a result, tens of thousands of families are still dependent on manual scavenging for their livelihood and our government is still debating on an effective law to curb it. "We are considering a new and effective law to put an end to the repulsive practice of manual scavenging and to provide opportunities to those engaged in this practice to begin their lives afresh," said Manmohan Singh on August 15. Manual scavenging is a shame for us and reflects in the attitude of this write-up ( 

As a result, India is still home to world’s maximum number of open defecators. WHO says open defecators in India constitute 58 per cent of world’s open defecators.

As a result, the country’s health infrastructure still has a 76 per cent shortfall of doctors, Planning Commission figures say it. There are serious lacunae in availability of other healthcare professionals. The healthcare infrastructure is in shabby state.

As a result, Indians still make 25 per cent of the world’s hungry lot. India stands at 67th rank out of 80 on UN’s Global Hunger Index. Countries like North Korea and Sudan rank above us here.

As a result, over 900 million Indians, feeling pangs of hunger, could never think the way corruption is eating into their rights to a dignified lives. Earning daily bread and butter consumes their entire lifetime.

As a result, the ruling class aborts every attempt to curb corruption, thus allowing it become a way of life in a poor society. 

As a result, every social empowerment scheme, be it the Universal Elementary Education, or the National Rural Health Mission, or the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or the Midday Meal Scheme, or the big-ticket total sanitation programmes, or many others social empowerment projects, they have failed to produce desired outcome.

As a result, mass expression of frustration is rising. We saw the spark in the form of rapid mobilization to support the anti-corruption movement when the intent of those behind the movement looked honest.

Any argument like ‘it takes time to improve situations for a large country like India’ should be dismissed given the fact that India is now the fourth largest Economy of the world and is slated to be the 3rd largest. The country is a big global market now. And it’s over two decades now when we were shown the ‘real magic wand’ in 1991.

The size of Indian Economy has quadrupled since 1991 from Rs. 10.8 Lakh Crore in 1991 to Rs. 48.8 Lakh Crore in 2011. Economy parameters like household savings, per capita income, Forex reserve, FDI have grown manifold.

Yet it is shameful when our prime minister says the country needs to be ready for tougher times owing to a bad monsoon. What all they do with the king-size budget for bodies like the Planning Commission then?

Instead they make silly statements like ‘I am happy with rising prices’ as the Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma said on August 19, 2012. Mr. Verma is in esteemed company of the titans here. We have seen and will keep on witnessing the high eloquence of the likes of Manmohan Singh, Sharad Pawar and other politicians making mockery of the everyday struggle of the ordinary Indian.

There is not even a single social indicator where we can say we, as a country, have made as impressive growth as in our Economy parameters resulting in the botched up India growth story.

When the Economy growth story can happen in two decades, why can’t the social growth story? And mind you, we are now over 39 Crore more Indians since 1991 waiting for it to happen.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -