17 September 2010

growth, development and garbage

Lately there have been many questions that have been bothering me. I wonder why we have to rely on someone else to come and clean up our mess after I read the story of the Garbage Girl. Don't get me wrong, it's great someone is making an effort but are we so fundamentally socially backward that we cannot even insist on basic civic sense? I wonder why we don't have in place a system of municipal waste collection that actually works - this is infrastructure at its most basic. We are the civilization that invented the zero and consequently are one of the biggest players in the IT field. We have a space program that a lot of developed nations can be proud of. We have a culture and history that is unparalleled.

But we also have so many social problems - poverty, malnourishment, the highest rates of maternal death, female infanticide, a garbage problem threatening to mask all our accomplishments. In the eyes of the world, we are still seen as a filthy country in many aspects. When are we to get rid of this image?

Behind the glitz and growth of new malls, multiplexes, supermarkets and all the trappings of the west the real India is being swallowed up in piles of garbage. All of our resources are stretched, our cities are choking with pollution, drowning in filth with not enough water or electricity for the burgeoning population. Do we not deserve more? I'm tired of trying to find a reason for the way things are - corruption, government, politics etc can only get us so far. What about individual accountability? What about you standing up to say that you don't like the way things are and doing something to change it? The father of this great nation, based our independence on the power of singular change... and things went rapidly downhill from there.

I remember reading a chapter in biology in school entitled 'growth and development' and remember thinking that they are two entirely different things that are so easily confused. The understanding of 'growth' and 'development' is not just a study of semantics but there are entire philosophies, economic policies and government principles involved in the distinction. India is sadly an example of growth without development.

This country needs to be built from ground-up. All we are currently focusing on is embellishments whilst nations like China and even Brazil are focusing on grass-roots development. They have similar problems as us, so why aren't we at least trying?

For India to take its rightful place in the world, we must invest in infrastructure, education and focus on growing holistically, sustainably. The kind of imbalanced growth we are seeing will only lead to more social problems and eventual economic collapse. The center cannot hold. The center will not hold. I wonder how long we are going to try to drive this horse with a broken cart until the wheel gives way to complete irreparability... and then what?

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake - Rabindranath Tagore


Pratibha The Talent said...

I do feel that real India is being swallowed up in piles of garbage as you mentioned in your post.A very thought provoking subject and I appreciate your effort towards the growth and development of country.

Akhila Vijayaraghavan said...

Thanks for reading the post and taking the time to comment Pratibha

Ramesh said...

India does have a municipal waste collection system. The problem is that the people employed for waste collection have long stopped working. Unions will not allow them to be forced to work. The government does not recruit more, for it will only mean more do not work. Cannot outsource the job as well because the unions won;t allow it.

But yes, your main point about us taking responsibility for the garbage we create is a very timely one.

Akhila Vijayaraghavan said...

Thanks for your valid point Ramesh. I do acknowledge that India has in place a system of waste removal that is rudimentary. However the fact remains that it does not work for a variety of reasons least of all union troubles.

Kevin said...

We Indians are very clean. We keep our house clean, we bathe everyday and wash our clothes everyday.

However we don't care about the garbage as long as it is not on our own doorstep. So we can throw it on the neighbor's doorstep or on the streets.

We can spit pan on the streets. We can throw plastic bags and wrappers on the streets. And we do not care about such minor things as long as our houses and bodies are clean. What it does to the city, state, nation and environment is none of our concern.

Unless of course we are forced to pay a $500 fine as in other countries. But in India it is fine as here we are truly free, even from thinking.

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