I spent an amazing week at Tokyo: amongst the many things I did, was also speak at the launch of the fascinating book published by McKinsey: RE-IMAGINING INDIA: a compendium of essays which looks at the future of India. But I guess Tokyo taught me many lessons that we as a nation would do well to learn from.
First: there is a clear distinction from politicians allowing the economy to be infected; yes I use the word carefully, with politics. There is a clear need for the two to remain distinct and that is how it is. I also saw the efficiency with which the average Japanese works. Unlike in our country where we will ask questions of any decision, the Japanese simply follow instructions: no one will break the queue; no one will drop names; no one will ask “do you know who I am”? and so on. They will do what is told to them and do it well and do it on time. In our country, we find problems for every solution. We want to know the why behind everything. We believe we are God’s favourite children and must therefore do what pleases us. But this is what is dragging India down. Apart from the general cynicism and the atmosphere of doom and gloom, what is most worrying is the manner in which we have allowed every institution to crumble. We can’t build tomorrow’s India by harking back either to the glorious or inglorious past. We have to move beyond Godhra and 1947; beyond Bofors and the wicked ways of Indira Gandhi and actually ask ourselves is this the kind of India we want our children to inherit? Must they, as soon as they grow up, want to flee this country? Can we not even keep the basic of talent back on our shores?
The problem with India is the denial of opportunity. This is the nub of the issue. It is not about whether we as a nation are capable. It is about how we harness capability and the issue is we don’t have a clue. We have a bunch of jokers running our country and then to make matters worse we have an inept bureaucracy for the most part. Uninspiring and unwilling to take risks. But then without risk, you shall only receive limited reward and that is what has been ailing us for several years now. We have created a climate of suspicion and (people like Arvind Kejriwal have only added to this mindless cacophony). Kejriwal hates everything and believes he is the only moralist that has walked the planet. But many moralists like him, have been seen to have warts that they find hard to remove and this man will also get his comeuppance, But in the meanwhile he is vitiating the atmosphere ably helped by dolts like Prashant Bhushan. I could also raise the issue of Prashant Bhushan’s house (undervalued) in Allahabad but then I’d be behaving like them.
The country today seeks solutions. We all know the problems and we know them too well. Modi must also temper his rhetoric. By abusing the Gandhis or the Congress, he is not telling us what HE THINKS OF SOLVING OUR MYRIAD PROBLEMS.
I am of the firm belief that tomorrow’s India must breathe an air which is not contaminated by the past or for that matter one which seeks revenge. We must instead seek reconciliation. We need to bury the ghosts of the past and see how we can keep our future exorcised of such demons. It is that India which will harness the true potential of its 1.21 billion people.
And only then will we do justice to the vast potential we possess: both as a nation and as a civilisation.