Tell me, my friends, what do you see in this picture? It is not a random shot, in case you are wondering.
In my last post I mentioned that India turns 77 on the 15th August. We have grown as a nation. We have become wealthier, much wealthier. The number of BMWs and Mercedes-Benz on the streets have increased, and this is fine. No quarrels, no arguments with that.
We also have an Annual Union Budget. The State Governments also present their budgets.
As part of the exercise, industry is invited to give their views on what they would like to see in the budget, and there is a lot of hectic lobbying that does go on prior to this.
Yet, unless my eyes deceived me, as per a statistic I read, India is home to 78 million people. That is about 7 times the population of Belgium and close to 5 times the population of the Netherlands.
We are home to 1/3 of the world’s hungry, and it seems that 7,000 people ( I am sure there are more ) people die daily because of starvation. In India.
We launch grand schemes for the poor, and all our politicians talk of pro-poor policies. And yet, we have statistics that damn and shame.
I read this morning, that Lakshmi Mittal wants to buy a mountain range in the UK. Presumably, he needs more space to wiggle his toes. He is rich and needs to spend his money well! This does not mean that Indian corporates aren’t doing their bit. Many of them have programs on Corporate Social Responsibility, and this is good. There is good in the world as well.
And yet, and yet, and yet, as the population grows, so does the problem of hunger and homelessness. We do produce enough grain and food to feed the population, and 33% is wasted and rots every year.
One passerby did try to feed the old lady. She refused. I assume that she knew she could not digest the food. This is one of the critical tenets of taking people out of starvation – can they digest the food that is – or not – provided to them?
We know the problems. I don’t need to list them out.
Yet the time has come, for a young country and old civilisation, to introspect and really think hard about how it treats the old, the poor, the starving and the damned.
Tell me, my friends, what do you really see in this picture?