Tuesday, 14 February 2017

One country, two worlds

I have a camera that allows you to make phone calls.

Yesterday evening I got into an autorickshaw in Lalitpur.  I was passanger no. 6 and so was seated next to the driver on the right side (the left side had been taken already).  Rs 10 later I arrived at Lalitpur station.  As we drove down the main road going to the railway station - I took a quick shot through the rickshaws front window - showing the pot-holed road.

A swift train-ride to New Delhi.  A post midnight auto drive way out to Dwarka sector 12.  And then the next morning a walk over to the hotel where our major funding partner is hosting a meeting for al their India partners - the Radisson Blu.  As you walk in, you fairly catch your breath - the huge interior stretches up and there are palm trees and water flowing below you.

In my phone camera the two photos are consecutive.  One nation. Two worlds.  Bharat and India.

How do we make sense of such contrasts?   As I read the names of the young servers providing the morning tea, I can't help but wonder what kind of a house they live in.  And yet, however humble and shabby their dwelling place may be, here they are.  Employed.  Working.  Earning.

In the cold Delhi night, as the pre-paid auto-rickshaw driver drove me to Dwarka, I asked about him and his family.

"We are six brothers," Mr. Jagat the autodriver tells me.  "I am from Bihar.  From East Champaran district."   Jagat was married 3 months ago.  His new wife is still in his village.  I know the area since our flagship EHA hospital - the Duncan Hospital - is in Raxaul, the largest town in his district.

"I am not educated" Jagat tells me. "I stopped after 10th, but two of my brothers are very smart."  It turns out that one of them finished engineering studies at IIT Chennai.  He got a job at Rs. 75,000 per month on graduating.  But now he has quit his job.   And why?  Because he hopes to crack the entrance exam for the civil services.

We live in aspirational times.  75K per month is not enough for this young man.  He desires the power that goes with the post of being one of the select few how crack the IAS exam.  His rickshaw driving brother is cheering him on while driving through the cold night streets of Delhi.

How much does rural, hand-to-mouth Bharat transition into the India of true prosperity?  Can it happen?  If so when.  Do we have areas where some islands of change are seen?  Oh for the fulfillment of all the God-guided potential that each precious person in our country has....  

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