Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The changes that have taken place in our society, since the time of independence.

Time brings with itself change. Man has changed everything on which he has laid hands. Over a period of time, our perceptions of our lifestyles change, and so does the way the future looks for each one of us. When I think of the future, it seems to me a mixed bag of fortunes, comparing it to the times when my parents were born.

Though the future seems like a mixed bag, there often seems to be more misfortunes than fortunes. Life is so fast paced that even children face academic and social ultimatums, which leaves them with little or no time for recreation. Most students loathe assessment tests, admission interviews, examinations, and progress cards. Peer pressure is an additional factor that causes potential winners to turn into introverts and under-performers. Considering the scenario a few years back, our parents, as children, would have had much more recreation and less peer pressure than what a child today would have.

Education is what moulds a person. Though the quality of education has improved tremendously, the distribution of genuine, meaningful education is highly uneven. Barring a few dedicated institutions, which aim at shaping young minds the right way, India today has many academicians who commercialize education. This phenomenon is prevalent in almost all states in India. In an age where religious leaders and politicians run universities, the wise and the capable turn towards ‘greener’ lands. What does a religious leader or a politician know about education? How can they assume the role of an academician with such matter-of-factness? They make the whole episode seem like cakewalk, which prompts more of their likes to emulate their actions. The truly qualified academicians now play professors and deans in universities abroad, simply because their merit is not recognized in their home country.

Civic sense is another important value that many people in India did and do not possess. This is and will continue to be a compelling factor that stunts national growth. Population explosion is often cited as a reason as to why people are ignorant about civic sense. I see civic sense as something that comes on its own, rather than being imparted by a responsible adult. It is a common sight to see the majority flout traffic rules, avoid paying tax to the government, bribe officials for personal obligations, and above all, condemn anyone who attempts to behave as a responsible citizen. Beginning from dumping waste on the streets, to turning a blind eye to blatant violations of the law, people in India have earned themselves the dubious distinction of being highly irresponsible and indifferent to their environment. A simple example that would suffice to highlight this point is the behavior when they board flights at an airport. A typical Indian would wait for his or her turn to board the aircraft when in Heathrow.

On the other hand, in an Indian airport, you will find the same person running towards the aircraft even before his or her seat number is announced. This difference in attitude arises due to the indifference of the airport officials. By assimilating similar examples, the logical conclusion that we arrive at is definitely not a healthy sign for the future. If one cannot adhere to such elementary rules, we cannot expect these people to become responsible engineers, lawyers, industrialists, politicians, and what not. Whether the present generation, comprising such restless individuals, can be entrusted with the responsibility of running a nation, is the question of the hour.

A few decades ago, the people did express an appreciable amount of trust in the government they empowered. On the contrary, any coalition government that comes to power today is only preoccupied in defaming the opposition parties and vice versa. Triggering of communal riots, misappropriate acquisition of wealth and sex scandals are not uncommon in a politician’s resume. In spite of all this, the people choose to empower the party, which promises a slew of benefits, which are mere castles in the air that will fetch a majority to the concerned party during elections.

Moral decadence is yet another weed that has crept into our society today, causing unimaginable havoc. India stands second both in overall population and in the number of people affected by AIDS. The fact that sex education is still considered a taboo in most Indian families sounds more ridiculous than amusing. Another truth that is unacceptable but gradually penetrating the Indian society is the disgusting practice of extra marital relationships. Though this practice is not widespread, it still poses a potential threat to the upper middle class which is caught somewhere between its western lifestyle and its traditional roots.

Moral decadence was not as widespread as it is today. Moral values and ethics were valued higher than what they are valued today. The practice of extra-marital affairs was uncommon, but not unheard of. People were more honest and less eager to cheat others.

These days, it has become a common practice for banks and chit fund companies to close their shutters and vacate. In this aspect, the future certainly does look frightening.

Amidst all these dangers, Pandora’s box has still some hope to offer. Over the last two decades, India has seen a tremendous improvement in overall employment. Indians have earned recognition in challenging fields such as the software industry. Over the recent years, the foreign exchange from the software industry has increased several folds, giving rise to better employment opportunities and fat salaries. Software services from Indian firms are getting more clients from abroad, which will eventually foster good business relations and elevate the privileges that these Indian firms enjoy all over the world presently.

Soon after independence, India was more or less a socialist economy. With practically no foreign investments at all, India was a land, which was not yet discovered. Unemployment and poverty loomed large over India. Food, clothing and shelter were scarce. The standard of living was unimaginably low and the majority of the population was into farming.

In the recent past, the economic scenario in India has seen a lot of change in terms of foreign investments. Companies like Chrysler, Volkswagen, GM, BMW, Mercedes, Nokia, Motorola, Hutchison and many others are tuning their heads towards the Indian market.

Apart from these foreign companies, the Indian economy is also being fuelled by the airline industry. In the past few years, India has witnessed the birth and growth of several new airline companies which have given more Indians ‘the power to fly’ by making air travel more comfortable and affordable. In the past two years alone, nearly five new airline companies have been launched. These ‘budget’ carriers are surely assets as they empower more people to travel by air.

The concept of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has proved to be a jackpot in terms of employment. This industry allows even arts and science graduates with sufficient communication skills, to earn a handsome pay packet. This has brought about many positive effects on the economy. This boom in employment is still a dream of sorts in many western nations and has made other nations green eyed with envy.

Another field where India is gaining leadership is medicine. Many Europeans and Americans are now turning towards Indian hospitals for treatment and surgeries. Some commendable milestones include advancements in cancer treatment and vision related surgeries.

Telecommunication services in India have improved tremendously, especially the mobile phone industry. Almost everybody owns a mobile phone these days. Earlier, the concept of wireless communication was mere science fiction. But today it has become an affordable reality. This allows people to remain more ‘connected’.

However, the future still remains a mixed bag. Making it better lies in the hands of every individual. The future does promise a more convenient lifestyle and better opportunities. Utilizing it effectively demands judicious planning and a conscious effort towards building a more responsible and prosperous society. Mere employment opportunities will not suffice for a secure future. Every citizen must realize his or her duties and consciously implement them. This is not something that can be achieved overnight, but if sincerely undertaken, it can and will help India scale new heights and brighten the future.

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