This period of self-doubt was coincidental with the era of economic
liberalisation which unleashed Indian entrepreneurship. I was enthusiastic and even accepted the notion that income inequality and high growth will go hand in hand before incomes become more equitable.
I believed India’s innovativeness will lead to all round prosperity.
But the India growth story ran to a different script. ‘Growth’ in modern economies seems to require increased consumption. The growth that Gandhi was referring to was probably the growth of contentment and it needed lesser consumption. Anyway, the upshot of India’s boom years was to make people leave villages, neglecting agriculture, in order to retrain themselves as masons, truck drivers and labourers to build the new India.
In the cities this rural-urban shift called for more FF-projects
like these, in Delhi and Goa. The truly SS-projects, that can transform
whole communities, ones like these in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra lost their shine because India’s leadership was sending out the message that industrialisation is the future; and, that farming had none. The ancient wisdom of nursing water resources and soil fertility was given little thought or marked down as something that can be tackled once we hit a steady state of 10% growth. The Planning Commission may reel out rural investment statistics to prove me wrong but while the figures may even be right, the planners’ hearts were not in it.
One day I took a double take on an all too common image that flashes on our television screens: a typical scene has say, our wise and learned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh , along with many ministers and bureaucrats around a table; in front of each of them stands a bottle of water with a popular brand name on it. No decorum is deemed possible without bottled water within reach of serious people. How insensitive can our leadership get! They have become models promoting privatised water. No wonder, every village has stocks of bottled water but its taps are dry. Such recurring images on TV epitomise the state policy. Water is to come from India’s factories. If we want safe water, we must pay for it. In a modern state everyone drinks bottled water.