It is fifteen years since the golden summer of 1991 when we lost our innocence wrote Gurcharan Das in a recent article. He was of course referring to our new affair with the the free economy and our expansion as a growing economy. I am no economist and do not understand market forces and the likes of it. I simply see what is around me and draw comparisons with was was an what is.
Last week we celebrated or let us say commemorated 61 years of Independence. All leading magazines had special issues and one must admit no one had anything glorious to share. Even Vinod Mehta who always proffers some light relief on his last page candidly states: I'm looking to offer you some humour. Alas, there's none to offer. A quick read of the Independence day issue of this or any other magazine does not make happy reading. A leit motiv seems to appear almost with obsessive regularity is the fact that our brave walk on the free economy path has further alienated the poor of the rich. The rich have their schools, their hospitals, their habitat, their markets, their just about everything whereas the infrastructure of the poor is growing from bad to worse.
One of the articles that caught my attention was the one on gated Communities aptly titled Free from India.
The proliferation of gated communities is undoubtedly a world wide phenomena and its Indian avatar larger than life. An article in the New York Times reflects the sad reality of gated communities in our capital region. If one India lives a life of luxury inside the walls, the other survives at its very gates. The raison d'etre of these communities is best defined by a resident himself who states: Everyone understands that there are things outside that you don't want to expose your children to. The idea is to have the area sealed and sanitised. The apartment costs are huge, but it's worth it to protect yourself from the violence and crime outside... When I leave these gates I am bang slap in modern India. I can't say that I don't like India; it's my country. But if I can avoid exposing myself to it, why not?'
The above statement is to say the least perplexing and saddening. Are we simply giving up on India? is creating comfortable and yet visible cocoons the real way out. Did we really lose our innocence when we decided to walk the free trade path and open India's doors? I cannot say. But if an Indian says that he or she does not want to expose his or her child to things outside, outside being the real India then something is terribly wrong. As citizens of India are we not responsible for that very outside.