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Waiting for Godot

By Ananya S Guha

A formula for division and dismemberment of the country has been neatly raked up, on religious, caste and other lines.  In its midst is of course talk of democracy and secularism. This double speak is the hallmark of 21st century rant in India, and of course rants between political leaders continue to capture news headlines. The  fight for brute power, abrasive politics, to say the least,  in a conflict scarred country will continue unabated till the 2019 elections at least. 

But the conflict does not begin and end here. None of our supposed leaders are talking of poverty, education, health and the farmers’ plight. The class levels and inability to afford a comfortable life with right and dignity, pale in front of clash among political titans. This politicization has percolated into everything: sports, movies, the right to have a decent living and education. Till now the National Policy on Education has not been officially declared. It remains in murky waters. The dilemma of private and public universities continue. Having a large number of private universities, with quality courses on offer is fine, but what about affordability? High Court and Supreme Court injunctions in the past have been clear on capitation fees. 

Education also spins  into school and primary education, the issue of addressing drop outs both at the primary and secondary levels. We are jumping issues, we talk about technology in education, without getting the basics sorted out. Education starts in school, its focal and starting point. Then only can the continuum work out effectively. Vocational education must be introduced not only at the 10 plus two levels, but also at the college levels for employable reasons. In fact there must be core vocational courses which should be compulsory.

One hears of bizarre cases of heath negligence in the most vaunted hospitals in and around the country’s capital. Gross negligence of children in hospitals in Uttar Pradesh have led to anger among people.  The debates mostly on television on private public partnership in health care have remained in the four walls of the rooms where these debates took place. We must have a concerted blue print on this across all the states. 

The farmers’ plight continues, with suicides after suicide continuing unabated. An  economic problem has led to a social malaise, but all that politicians do is to promise waiver of loans. What about agriculture based innovations, to counter crop failure? The likes of M.S.Swaminathan seem to be forgotten and cast out of scientific memory. 

In all these aspects hardly a word has been said. The recent farmers’ protest in New Delhi was a significant marker, but they were all avoided by our leaders. Only one or two leaders who are out of favour in their political parties, walked with the farmers.

The farmers’ agitation is a very raw nerve. Poor farmers  constitute the bulk of the country’s poor who are trying to earn and green the country. Their suicides are a tragic plight of waste and insensitivity.

In the midst of this pandemonium, and what with politicians thinking only about the vote banks, comes Anna Hazare’s clarion call for action, starting from 23rd March 2018. Politics is made redundant. His acerbic comments on both the major political parties, show how social movements can eclipse the politics of the times. It is social questioning, bereft of political alignments. Such social questioning can only be a counter revolution to the morass that present day politics has led to.

Politicians again and again, boast about the youth strength of our country. But they also forget that the youth is a fulcrum for unrest, in the midst of seething unemployment. The unrest in four major universities in the country over a space of one and a half years has dissipated it seems, from public memory. What one forgets is that these instances are significant reminders, of how the youth hold power, call the shots, and are not willing to bow in front of tyrannical oppression. Both men and women students are actively involved in campus politics, as they are in their career or studies. 

Poverty, heath, education, farmers’ plight and unemployment are the crux of the matter if we are to maintain developing standards in contiguity with progress. But what is happening is harping on religious divide, taking this back to situations which are four centuries back, obnoxious comments on movies and monuments. The main issues are side stepped for political expediency. Let us wait for 23rd March 2018.Or will it be a proverbial wait for Godot? 

The socialization processes which started after Independence, must be recycled with mass awareness on these issues to be addressed, not besotted with power and money. Philanthropy will come not from business magnates, but lesser mortals. 


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