Lately the India story has lost its sheen. 20 years ago, the Indian economy was freed from the shackles of government. But little has happened ever since. We still remain laggards in primary education and per-capita income. India is the youngest nation in the world. In order to reap that demographic dividend, we only have a window of opportunity of 10 - 15 years. To educate, train and employ 60 crore people is no mean task. It would require investments of a titanic scale. The governement would have to dig deep into its stashed away wealth to make that happen.
That raises an interesting question. When was the last time the Indian government ran a budget surplus? - how about never? I know of several Indians including myself who gleefully point out that the USA's only export today is U.S. dollars. The US can afford to be delusional since its currency remains the global tender for all transactions. But why won't an undeveloped country like India balance its books?
Meanwhile the government is busy redistributing wealth in the name of NREGA, Food Security and Right to Education. Instead of concentrating on its core competencies of delivering justice and law and order, we have a bureaucracy that continues to grow on the taxpayer's teats. Instead of becoming a force multiplier, the government today has become the albatross around India's neck.
We however are not our government. While our government has never generated a surplus, we Indians save 30% of our income. While our government runs dilapidated schools staffed by "ghost" teachers, we direct all our savings to educating our children. As soon as our children become adults, we urge them to escape the morass that is India. While I may grumble about the distinct lack of patriotism of my fellow citizens, I can at the same time sympathize with their frustrations. Love and respect is earned, not obtained by fiat.
I recently came across Openstreet Map India, where volunteers painstakingly piece together an open source map of India. The government run Survey of India was apparently created at txpayers' expense for the same purpose. But they remain missing in action. Openstreet Map is not an exception. All across India, groups of like minded people have banded together to make a difference. They all chant the same mantra - We are not our government. As long as they exist, there still is hope.
Kahen kya jo puchhe koi ham se Mir,
Jahaan mein tum aaye the kya kar chale.