the neutrality syndrome

Yesterday India celebrated its 61st independence day amidst much fanfare and media hype. Once again promises were made from the rampart of the historic Red Fort and huge allocations were pledged to education and agriculture. Newspapers dutifully listed all achievements and reading them would have made any one proud. Staggering figures seemed to pervade all sectors of growth as India seemed poised to become a super power.

And yet was it not barely a week ago that a TV channel gave us the startling revelation that over 32 000 primary schools across the country did not have a single student? This sums up much of what is happening in our land. Brave and even laudable programmes and projects get launched but never reach the beneficiary. Somewhere down the line they get hijacked by vested interests.

A leading newspaper has launched a new campaign called LEAD where the operative word is DO! It is a well planned media blitz with all the right ingredients including a string of celebs and will in all probability bring its creators what they aspire for till the next campaign but somehow it seems to have hit the nail on its head.

We seem to have become a nation of non-doers. In response to an email sent on I day, a friend wrote back: Whenever I tell someone to save paper or adopt vegetarian way of life - the response is neutral or negative but hardly enthusiastic.

In a land so deeply divided between the have and have nots, the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural those of us who have the ability to make a difference have lost our enthusiasm and withdrawn ourselves in the comfort of neutrality. We seem to be waiting for the other to do! And this passing on the task goes down the line till there is no other left.

We will become truly independent only when each one of us shakes off this neutrality and acts, when we accept our part of responsibility in each things that is wrong and asks questions; when we finally accept to stand up and leave that mythical armchair. That day India will be truly independent.