Cacti of challenges in our garden of freedom
Published on Monday, 14 August 2017 17:24
Just a few hours hence we will be celebrating 70th anniversary of India’s independence. Of course, being a citizen of a free country is a great privilege for all of us. Therefore, we should all be grateful to all the known and unknown freedom fighters who have given us this precious gift. Now our responsibility is to make this garden of freedom better; grow new flowers of positive thoughts!
There is no doubt that after independence we have made a lot of progress. We are sending our satellites into outer space and even to Mars. We are not only sending our own satellites into space but those of other countries as well. Indian scientists have proved that India is second to none. Once India fought hunger with the US’ rotten wheat but today the country has become land of agricultural revolution and is helping the world fight hunger. Once potholed roads are now turning into sleek highways. We now have roads where fighter aircraft can land and take off. Once this country depended on other countries for small machines but today it is building gigantic machines.
What we mean to say is that the flowers in our garden are blossoming like never before. But there still are many challenges, many problems that make us worried. Food, water, education, healthcare and employment are prerequisites for a better life. But are we in a position today to say that these basic requirements of every citizen of this country is being satisfied? No, I believe! Farmers are not getting water for irrigation, good seeds for sowing and remunerative prices for their produce. They are therefore, ending their lives. Many people are not getting clean drinking water. The condition of healthcare too is not very encouraging. People are dying like cattle. One-third of the country’s population is battling poverty.
Unemployment is a major problem. An analysis of the data of 2015 shows that the number of unemployed in the country is about 12 crores. Of these, 25 per cent are between 20 and 24 years in age, while the number of youth between 25 and 29 years is 17 per cent. The number of women among them is very big.
Analysis also shows that 16 per cent of the youth who are getting technical education are standing in the queue of unemployed.
Many claims are being made for providing jobs to the youth, many figures keep coming from the government, but the reality is that the number of unemployed is increasing. Obviously, its side effects are also being felt. There is a saying that the empty mind is the devil’s workshop. Obviously, when the youth do not get employment, they are more likely to go astray. Many young people take to crime. Why the number of stone pelters is growing in Kashmir today? If they get `700 a day to throw stones, they will naturally be inclined to do that. I have made many trips to the Kashmir Valley. From morning till evening, the youth have been found chatting at intersections. I have always been thinking why they can not get employment? My clear opinion is that if the government creates a means of employment in Kashmir, then the day is not far when the separatists will not find any stone pelters.
Earlier the Congress government and now the Narendra Modi government has paid attention to the skill development programme. Modiji has coined a slogan of ‘Make in India’. Of course, the work is going on, but the results are still to come. We are all waiting for the concrete results of ‘Make in India’ because it has rekindled the hopes of the unemployed for new employment opportunities.As far as the terrorism is concerned, one big cactus in our garden of flowers is also that India is at number four in countries affected by terrorism.
In fact, we are fighting with two types of terrorism. First, it is the terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. Second terrorism is in the form of Naxalites within the country. It seems that there should be different strategies to deal with these two. Naxals can be isolated within the legal framework along with the development of tribal areas. But for the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, the government has to implement ‘zero tolerance’ policy just like Israel.
I will tell you an incident. The great scientist and former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was talking to children at Anand city in Gujarat. A child asked him who is the biggest enemy of the country? Kalam Sahab put the question back to the children and sought their reply. A girl named Parul said the country’s worst enemy is poverty! I also believe that unless poverty is removed from the country, the garden can not bloom.
There are many other cacti too. In India, the number of malnourished and underdeveloped children is around 4 million. India is 120th in the list of 130 countries in the matter of children with stunted height and low weight. There is only one bed available for 1,050 patients in hospitals. Similarly, only 0.7 doctors are available for 1,000 patients. The irony is that while our country spends only 2.1 per cent of the global expenditure on research and development, Europe’s share is 24.5 per cent.
Not all is well socially too. India’s secular fabric has taken a beating. What the former vice president Hamid Ansari said in his farewell address needs a serious thinking. Unity in diversity has been the strength of this country. We must salute Nehruji for giving us a framework which has guided us on the path of progress. It is very easy to find faults. Governments change but the most important thing is which path we are following. Mere rhetoric can not make a country great. Together with freedom, social harmony is one very important aspect which needs to be taken care of.
Before I conclude
The name of Davinder Singh Kang of Punjab may be new, but this 26-year-old player is the first Indian athlete to reach javelin finals at the World Championships. No one had earned this privilege before. In a team of 15 players, only Kang tasted success. I congratulate Kang wholeheartedly. He is certainly the new hero of the youth.