You will not see that image as my profile pic in Facebook. For me to take that one small step, the government had better take some pretty massive leaps.
Don’t get me wrong – a more digital India is a good thing. It’s worthy of your support. All I am urging is to think a little deeper about this initiative.
In many ways, it’s already started. The Indian smartphone industry is booming and starting to reach deeper into the population, some branches of Central Bank of India proudly boast that they are finally computerised and traffic police carry around cumbersome handheld challan machines that they take hours to do anything on. We are heading there.
I too am obsessed with gadgets and technology. My phone, my laptop and the net have become absolutely essential, like many of my urban compatriots. Unfortunately, most of India doesn’t live in the urban areas. And they have far more to worry about than 3G connections – things like hygiene, power, roadways, medical facilities, education and clean drinking water.
Modi’s government has certainly gained a lot of praise for the Digital India, Make in India and Swachh Bharat campaigns. It may seem like he’s really pushing India to compete globally and become a first-world country. But, from my perspective, this is all just make-up to hide the ugly truth of the quality of life most Indians still have to endure. This betrays the short-sightedness of not only the current government, but each one that has preceded it.
Modi promised to put a toilet in every home, but he never really thought of where the water would come from when you pull the flush. He wants to put computers in every village, most of which don’t have power for most of the day. He wants to have a Swachh Bharat but doesn’t have a clue how to give clean drinkable water to each and every citizen. He wants to build broadband highways while roads across the country turn into craters every time it rains. He wants a digital India where a large chunk of our population can barely read. To add to this, we still have one of the world’s largest populations of bonded labour, and our educational system and medical facilities at the rural level are archaic.
Our government is trying so hard to portray a certain image of India to the world. Unfortunately, most Indians don’t live in the India they want the world to see. But whenever we watch international television, or travel abroad, we can see the potential our nation has to grow towards a true first-world country. Building up our industries is essential, yes, but shouldn’t our basic infrastructure and a higher standard of living for the lowest sections of society take a higher priority?
Now, I’m not putting this whole burden on the current Prime Minister’s shoulders. The point I’m trying to make is that these basic necessities should be at the core of any government’s agenda. But our archaic, inept and deeply corrupt bureaucracy is only concerned about its own gain and not the betterment of the country. To this end, it’s efficient only in syphoning off our country’s funds, as it has been doing for generations.
This isn’t about blaming the current party in power. This is about remembering that this country has many deeper problems that need to be addressed. And that is not something Mark Zuckerburg can help us with.