May 22, 2009

To the Prime Minister of India

Please accept my heartiest congratulations on being sworn in as the 17th Prime Minister of India. You have immerged has the choice of the Indian people for the top job. You bring certain degree of credibility to the office of Prime Minister. In you India see its better future; a future which will develop India to its actual potential.

I am writing today to you an Indian; an Indian who believes that her country can go great heights if she gets the right leaders to guide her. The people of India have put trust in you and your government. Now the responsibility falls on the chosen leaders to steer India into the future. The leaders have to work with the people in ensuring the overall sustained growth of our country. In this letter, I would just like to write as concerned citizen of this country and put forth the problems which the new government would have to tackle. I know I am not an expert on this matter but I wanted to write because I want to have my voice heard.

In the present times, the foremost problem facing our country and the world is the economy. The state of the world economy is grim and people haven’t seen a ray of hope for sometime. Steps should be taken to reduce the fiscal deficit and there should be check on inflation. The benefits of the steps taken by the government to improve the economy should trickle down to the lowest level of the chain; chain which starts from the government to the common man on the ground level. There is a rise in the unemployment. Unemployment is the problem not just of the educated urban population but also the rural population. Inclusive growth should be the mantra of the government.

Population of India is growing at a rate of 1.548% per year. We are a country with an estimate of 1.17 billion people and growing at an alarming rate. Despite the fact that India was the first country in the world to have a population policy, not much has been achieved in terms of population control. India is facing an intense crisis of resources. There is fierce competition for the nation's limited natural resources leading to quarrels between states, between communities and even families. Our land and water resources are being exploited to the hilt. The exploitation of mineral resources is threatening forests, nature reserves, and ecology. Seventy percent of the energy resources need to be imported putting constant pressure on us to export more or face currency devaluation. Over use of resources is contributing to natural disasters occurring more frequently and with greater devastation. The pressing need of the day is to at create ideal conditions for acceptance of the need for stabilizing the population and how it is an essential element of human welfare and development. The solution to this lie in spreading of education and enlightenment, and in the empowerment of women. Birth control programmes should also be integrated with medical and public health services to make them popular among the masses.

I have lived abroad and then moved to India. I might be among the minority population of Indians who has taken the reverse journey. I came back to India because I believed my true calling was in India. I know a lot of friends of mine who would love to come back to India but then the present system of India prevents them from doing so. When I ask friends why don’t you want to move to India, I just get one answer. I would not be able to rise to my true potential in India. People think that they will not get the kind of infrastructure, opportunity and development in India as they would get in countries like USA or UK. People are of the opinion that if they want a better future for themselves and their children then living in the western countries is the right thing to do. There is no denying this fact but then we also need the scientists, engineers, doctors and management gurus back in India. In one of his speeches Rajiv Gandhi said that it is not a brain drain if we can get these people back home after few years. After years of experience in the developed world, these people can contribute greatly to the development of our country. The government should try and implement policies and procedures to insure this transition takes place.

Poverty is everywhere we look. Visit a small town or a big city, we encounter people who are struggling to get just 2 meals for the day. My heart reaches out to these people, I can feel the pain for them and my heart is filled with desire to help these people. I can do whatever is in my capacity to help such people but I cannot reach out to the millions around India. Government needs to develop schemes for the poor. With poverty comes malnutrition. When one looks at the state of children in rural Orissa, I can never understand if I should feel lucky to get my meals or should I feel sad that while I eat in air-conditioned restaurants without caring for the bill there are my brothers and sisters around India who could be fed for a month on the same amount. I don’t dream for all people in the society at same level but then there should be some sort of equilibrium maintained. These people should atleast be able to get food to survive. There should steps taken to make sure that the benefits should reach the people and not get caught in the red-tape.

Mahatma Gandhiji once said that the true India lives in its villages. After 61 years of independence, the urban population of India has increased but I still believe that if one wants to know the true India then that person should visit the villages of India. It is where the heart of India lies. The farmers of our villages work hard year round to earn a decent meal for their families. My grandfather and uncles come from Marathawada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra. These regions for years have suffered due to lack of rains. This is the place where farmer suicide is happening. I have seen them toil day in and out, in scrouching heat. Schemes like NREGA and loan waivers for farmers need to be implemented rigorously. Stories are present all over India where the NREGA has been caught in the red tape. Workers are not paid wages, payment is below the minimum wage and research has show that of the total households which sought employment only 10% of the households have received employment for the full 100 days. Also, 70% of NREGA records are not available. No one is denying that this scheme was a noble one by the government but my only concern is this should not be lost in the loopholes of bureaucracy and loss the real meaning for which it was first passed. NREGA is just one of the ways the government has tried to help the rural population. Agriculture is still the most important income source for these people. Micro financing and ease in loans should be there to help the farmers. People in villages sell their babies to earn money. There was a story where a baby was sold for 40Rs because the parents could not afford to feed the rest of the family. Benefits should available to the rural poor so that no other family in India is faced with this situation.

29% of India lives in the urban areas. According to CIA data the rate of urbanization is predicted to be 2.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.) The cities of India are growing at a rapid pace. People see as urban areas as a place where one can get rich. People migrate to cities for better life but still most of the people in urban areas are poor. The slums in Mumbai standing besides the tall buildings give the picture of city that few want to see. The population of cities is on a rise but the infrastructure is no able to sustain it. You cannot drive on the roads because they are too many cars, you can’t travel in trains because they are always overcrowded. There is also the risk of the rise in security problems. The people in urban areas have to fend for their survival at each step. Government needs to ensure that there is sustained urban development.

Religion and caste has been used to divide our society over generations. In today’s times when one sees a Godhara or Kandhamal happening one is sad and angry at the same time. Sad because of the lives lost for petty reasons which are exploited to gain political mileage. Hooligans are out to destroy the peace and tranquility of our country. Any government should work to unite the country and not divide it on basis of religion or caste.

Internal as well as External security has been India’s concern since independence. We are surrounded by neighbors who have troubles brewing in their backyards; been it is rise of Taliban and strong hold of military in Pakistan or the Tamil crisis in Sri Lanka or the political situations in Nepal. We are in the middle of this entire storm. To add to this we have the situation with Pakistan. Also the problems with the Naxals in India have been on the rise. The recent attacks carried out by Naxals during the elections or the recent attack of Naxals in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra has again thrown light on the seriousness of this problem. I was in Mumbai on 26/11 when the attacks happened on the city. It saddened me to see the city I love to be under siege. People lost their family and friends for not fault of theirs. Terrorism be it is Jammu Kashmir or Mumbai claims victims; victims who are mostly innocent people who are just trying to lead a normal life. Government needs to revamp the police force and military. Our soldiers need to be equipped with the best weapons to fight the enemies of the country. Insurgency and terrorism should be dealt with a strong hand for a peaceful society. Prosperity resides in a truly peaceful society.

We have world-class doctors. We are the hub for medical tourism. We have companies like Ranbaxy and Dr. Reddys that are leaders in the pharmaceuticals. But still in India, most people don’t get the basic health care facilities. My brother mentioned to me that they had taken his friend to a government hospital on account of accident. This hospital was in a small town. His friend had met with an accident but there was no way an early detection could happen as this hospital did not have x-ray machine. People die every day across India just because they do not get the proper medical care at the right time. In small villages and towns, the government hospitals need to be upgraded. Poor people cannot afford to go to private hospitals. It is in the government hospital that they come for their medical care. The facilities of the hospitals need to be improved at the earliest. No one should loose their life due to lack of proper medical care. Alcohol and Smoking are hazardous to health. I hear stories from my servants where husbands beat up wives to extract money for drinking. People loose their lives due to drunk driving. The “taadi” shops in Kerela or the numerous alcohol selling stores in Himachal Pradesh just kill people. Smoking can kill. It is know to everyone but still people smoke. Alcohol and Tobacco companies provide government with chunk of revenue. But then is revenue above the life of the people? There should be strict rules to keep a check on these companies and steps should be taken to ensure that health of people be protected from these vices. The UN estimates that 5.7 million people in India are carrying the virus of HIV-AIDS. According to NACO, as of 2006 estimates national adult HIV prevalence in India is approximately 0.36 percent, amounting to between 2 and 3.1 million people. There is also the danger of the transmission from mother to child. The figures can be from any sources but the numbers are grim. The people should be educated of the dangers of the disease, prevention methods and how to live with the disease. Steps need to be taken before it turns into an epidemic which none of have any control over.

Education is the base for any development. When the people of a country are educated they are all the architects of the better present and future of the country. Children should be entitled to basic education. Basic education should reach all children. The Sarva-Shikha Abhiyan should reach every village and city in India. With providing education to all, we also need to take care of the quality of education. The quality of education in government schools and regional language schools should be increased. Poor children have the right to a good education as the rich children. The quality of higher education has needs to be made up the mark. On one hand we have IITs & IIMs and on the other hand we have private colleges that spring up just to make money. Education should never be a moneymaking business. It should be the driving force to bring about a constructive change in the society. Proper Education at every level should be vision of the government.

I grew up in a family where the education of females was never given much importance. It was important here to groom the girl to be a perfect wife. But I thank my stars that my parents were different. For them there was no difference between my brother and me. They gave me the best education possible, always encouraged me to go ahead in life. I am lucky to have such parents but not all girls in India are this lucky. A girl is aborted in India. She is never allowed to even see the world. As of 2001 there are 927 females for every 1000 males across India. According the CIA world fact book the mortality rate of females is 25.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.). This is not present in only the poorer section of the society but the rich urban people also undertake such low level activities. Even if a girl is born she is never given the deserved status in the family and the society. Ever day we hear stories of females being raped on the street, brides harassed by families for dowry and abuse of even children. Incidents like the one happening in Mangalore makes us feel unsafe in our own backyards. Females should be educated so that no one will exploit them. As a female living in these conditions in India, my only request is to ensure a safer society for all of us.

The youth of India are the future of this country. They should be provided proper education and employment. Also, youth of India should be made an active part of the political system. I am aware that Mr. Rahul Gandhi is taking steps in this direction. The present parliament as a lot of young faces like Sachin Pilot, Agatha Sangma, Suriya Sule, Priya Dutt, Miling Deora among others. But more needs to be done to change the image of politics and politicians in the eyes of the people. The low voter turnout in Mumbai and other metros around the India during these elections is a testimony of the attitude of youth towards politics. I am not justifying their decision but then I would just like to say that if they see a cleaner and better image of politicians they might change their mind. I also want to state the fact that most of the young politicians elected this time around come from a long lineage of dynasty politics. They have a family name they carry which gives them the easy route into politics. They get party tickets because of their famous surnames. These MPs also have to prove their mantle to the people; but then what about the average Indian who yearns to be part of the political system? I was speaking to someone who wanted to get a ticket for this year’s Lok Sabha for a political party. He described me the levels of party workers he needs to go through to reach the authorities. Most of the times these people never get a ticket. The person who has the desire to work for people is left standing on the side-ways while the powerful trudge forward. The system needs to make sure that genuine people do get a chance to work for their country.

Justice in India is delayed. People die waiting for justice to happen. The courts are over loaded with cases. Many cases are dismissed due to lack of evidence. People are left waiting for justice to happen. The cases against the politicians are pending for years with no results in sight. Government has to act on speeding of the judicial systems. The commission reports need to be acted upon. Justice should be delivered to the people.

Corruption is a big problem anywhere you go in India. You cannot get work done in any government office but being an honest citizen. It takes ages to get just a small work done; which by the way would be your right to get in the first place. I still remember in the customs office I was openly asked for bribe defining it as “service charge”. When I refused to budge, they troubled my shipment by inventing problems. But I went by law and was firm so I could get my work done. But then I had to go through a lot of trouble to do so. People with their busy lives cannot always do it and hence have to give bribes to get their work done quickly. The Right to Information act has been proven effective but it should be made available on a larger scale; people need to aware of this act. There is an urgent need to improve the image of the politicians. Political system should be transparent to the general public. This doesn’t mean revealing the state secrets but just reaching out the people and showing that you do mean to work for their overall good. It is my request to the present government to take steps to put curb on the rising corruption in India. It is eating our system like a termite and very soon it might lead to a complete damage to a system that would be beyond repair.

SMEs need development in India. Like in Germany, where most of the industries are SMEs we also need to concentrate on developing these industries. Here is where most Indians go to work and benefits in terms of policies and laws should be undertaken. India also needs to concentrate on developing its infrastructure of roads, ships, air and railways. Better infrastructure leads to the faster development of a country’s economy. The Satyam scandal exposes the reality of India’s corporate sector. I believe Satyam is not an isolated case. There are many stories that are not out in the open but still happening. The culprits are looting the common man of their hard earned money. Investors are losing billions because of the greed of few people. These incidents tarnish the image of our country and the corporate sector. The outlook of the world changes towards India and it is never good for foreign investments in the country. Government along with organizations like SEBI needs to pass laws that keep watch on the happenings of the corporate sector.

We live in a world where countries around the world are interdependent on each other for their progress. Developing and maintaining amiable relationships with different countries around the world is increasing important. Be it our neighboring countries like Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka or United States, United Kingdom, Russia or any other country around the world, good relationship is always beneficial to the progress of the country. The Ministry of External Affairs and the PMO will be needed to work in sync for this to take place. Relations should be developed, business should be increased but we should also maintain dignity of our country. Government today is faced with handling crisis on all borders of India and immediate steps should be taken to ensure the safety of our people.

India is a country rich in heritage. We have Taj Mahal, Meenakshi Temple, Hampi ruins, Nalanda University, Himalayas, Ganga River, Corbett National Park and Ajanta-Ellora caves among the most magnificent sites to offer people visiting India. We need to preserve this rich heritage. We need to develop the tourism industry of India on a much larger scale. Tourism is in India has the potential to be a bring revenue generating sector and we need to make sure we market it to the people. Recently I visited the Humayun Tomb in Delhi and read messages of people written all over the structure. I lot of our heritage sites are in danger. The population of Tiger, the national animal of our country, is diminishing by each passing day. We need to preserve this rich heritage of India so that we can pass on this legacy to our future generations. Government and people have to work together for the preservation of environment, tackle the problem of Global Warming and implement strict rules to control pollution.

I have written this letter in all humility. I am concerned citizen of India and care of this country I call home. It is my request to you to take India on the path of development. Wish all Indians live in peace and prosperity. I wish for the India that our freedom fighters fought for. Jai Hind.


Janaaaa said...

I havent completed reading this. I am wondering how you wrote such a bigggg post.
I will comment my thoughts after reading it fully.

Pallavi said...

using easy way out...MS Word.

Janaaaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janaaaa said...