There’s just one way to describe what north India is going through right now. It’s going through a natural calamity. When you have entire hills sliding down on unsuspecting people, a death toll of one thousand and counting with the army spearheading rescue efforts, you know that merely calling it a “disaster” isn’t enough. It’s a calamity.
The myth of “India Rising”
One of the greatest myths pervading the collective consciousness of the West is that of a rising India. With a great investment climate, companies the likes of Tata and Infosys and a cheap pool of workers to recruit from, India was given the same status of a rising power that China has been, albeit very briefly. But in that brief period of glory, China and India would be spoken of in the same breath and the rise of a multi-polar world with both China and India being important powers would be taken for granted.
That bubble burst for the rest of the world pretty soon, what with the slowdown of the Global Economy, revelations of endemic corruption in the Indian Government, a gazillion rape cases and the lack of infrastructure coming into light. But the Indian media did not relent from their hopelessly optimistic rhetoric. For them, India was still the poster child of ancient powers coming to reclaim their rightful place in the world hierarchy and a paragon of the free world with its status as the world’s largest democracy.
The wrath of the Gods
Uttarakhand is probably a flash of reality for those with their heads in the clouds. For those of you who want more detail, these photos should give you a bird’s eye view of North India.
As you can very well see, India’s rivers have swollen and spilled. It’s not exactly very common for this to have happened. However, when we look at all the damage that has come about from this, it’s heartbreaking to see the delusions of an aspiring power impact its people so much.
Of course, India’s leaders are still doing what they do best. Squabbling over who gets to help in order to mine every bit of political capital out of this. Pathetic, really. There are some things which are sacred. They cross party lines, language borders, everything. But not in India. In India, everything is fair and people’s lives are cheap. After all, with a birth rate like ours, a few deaths don’t mean squat, right?
The lifting of the veil
It’s time we learned from what we’ve done wrong and corrected ourselves. This is simply the latest in a long line of incidents causing India’s credibility to erode. The massive power cuts a year back, the rolling brownouts and blackouts affecting industries near and far, political leaders far too involved in squabbling and building personal wealth and a middle class which has just begun to understand the limits of its power, all of them combine to point in one direction. India is not ready to take centre stage now. Hell, if everything continues to be the way it is, it won’t be in the next hundred years!
The Uttarakhand floods reveal another thing about the country. Complacence. There is no drive in the government to improve. The government does not seem to be built for serving the people. Rather, it seems to delight in lining its own pockets. Shoddy engineering work tells us that standards which should have been adhered to were ignored in order to make some money off land deals. The result? Mother nature’s fury wiped the veil of attractiveness around India and revealed a country hardly capable of being heir to the fair Mughal Empire.