Welcome back to Weekend Thoughts. Let me start with a standard disclaimer: Due to shortage of time, no article could be posted in last two weeks. My sincere apology to the readers.
Coming back to the this weekend's article, I can say a lot, but it would still not solve anything. It's about the problems back home. The author raises a very good point "Can we afford to watch silently whatever is happening back home!" Oh! you have read this over and over again. May be you have! But have you done anything about it! Everytime, I start thinking about it, it gets very tangled in my head and I get totally lost. And, that is the real problem, I think.
Don't think about it. Do something about it. Contribute, however, whichever you can. I know, there's a lot of you, who do. But then, there's a lot, like me, who wonder "What can I do !" Go through this article. The author is going to show you, how you can make a big difference in so many small ways. That's what counts. I remember, posting two articles by Dr.Devi Prasad Mishra in which he described so many different avenues to extend a helping hand to our Motherland. I have seen this conviction in an article from Mr.Purna Mohanty of California. An eagerness to start a venture, to help Orissa. May be it's a venture to compile a list of Universities or may be it's Mr.Priyadarshan Patra's SEEDS; we need to contribute. There is so much that needs to be done, every little contribution counts; just like we have read in the story of the little squirrel helping to build the bridge in the Ramayana. May be then Rama Rajya will return.
(So much for the speech. I need to do some soul searching for myself. Have I done anything to help Oriyas or Orissa ?)
The article is written by no one other than our own Debasmita Misra. Postviews are presented by Somdutt Behera. Hope, you'll find them interesting and inciting. Your suggestions are always welcome.
Surjit Sahoo (7/14/95)
snail-mail: 401 Labore Road # 101, Little Canada, MN 55117
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents : Prafulla C. Pati and Pramila Misra, Bhubaneswar, Orissa.
Wife : Nilima Misra (Married to this nice person in 1987)
Son : Sambit Misra (This greatest gift of God is a member of my family since 1990)
? - 1969 : St. Joseph's Convent School, Bhubaneswar. 1969-1970 : Stewart School, Bhubaneswar. 1970-1977 : D.M.School, Bhubaneswar. 1977-1980 : D.M.School Bhubaneswar (+2). 1980-1984 : College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, OUAT, Bhubaneswar [B.Sc. (Ag. Eng. & Tech.)] 1985-1986 : Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand [M.Eng., Water Resources Engineering] 1987-1988 : University College Galway, Galway, Ireland [M.S., Engineering Hydrology] 1988-1994 : University of Minnesota [Ph.D.] Currently : Research Associate, Army High Performance Computing Research Center, University of Minnesota. Specialization: Numerical modeling of ground water flow, contaminant transport and bioremediation of subsurface contaminants. Hobbies : Anything to keep an environment of joy and amusement. Philosophy in Life : The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention. Motto : Unity and Amity (Haven't achieved this 100% yet).
Recently, I was watching a Hindi movie entitled "Andolan" wherein the theme of the movie suggested that the upliftment of the economy, living condition of the people, and the general awareness is solely dependent on Andolan (revolution or uprising). This message started me with a series of thought. Does India really need a revolution? Does India really need an upliftment? If so, then why and how? What are we doing here far away from our motherland? How can we help achieve any of the above? OR should we just leave India to its own fate and sit here and survey the situation remotely?
Whether you agree or not, the movie industry in India has a great impact on the Indian viewer both inside and outside the country. The message conveyed by the movies in the past have depicted the existing condition of India at the time the movie was released. The impact of the message varies with the person receiving the message. I have always tried to analyze the truth these messages conveyed despite all the attempts of the producer and the director to conceal these messages by protruding scenes that are more alluring to the non- thinking crowd. However, producers like Raj Kapoor have protruded their messages in their lyrics such as "Jaane Kahaan Gaye woh Deen..." [meaning: Where have those days gone...] or in more subtle lyrics by others like "Yeh Hariyaali aur yeh raasta... In Raahon mein tera mera jivan bhar ka vaasta..." [meaning: Our lives are locked in this greenery and the road in between...]. With progress of time, the messages have become more explicit in the drama and the script. Producers have resorted to showing the typical violence, preying of rich over the poor, general unrest, increasing population, death of infants due to negligence and disease, corruption in politics and life, malnutrition and adulteration, hoarding and blackmailing, drugs and delinquency, riots and police brutality, rape and murder, etc. In short, there is hardly any value of life. In oriya there is a saying "Jor Jaar Mulak Taar". Its exact English version is "Survival of the fittest". This is the day to day scene in the late 20th. century India.
Let's look at the brighter side of the picture. Have we lost our pride? No. We still talk about the Golden ages of the Gupta dynasty and dream about Rama Rajya (Kingdom of Rama). Every Indian wakes up in the early morning to wish for a warm and bright day followed by a glorious tomorrow. These wishes and dreams are the only factors that have kept people smiling and living in a vast sub-continent of India with a glorious past, a gorily middle-age and a dark present. "Sukha Asharey manisha sukha paye..." [meaning: There is nothing called happiness in this life. Man derives pleasure only by aspiring for the happiness...]. The question is: What should be done? What can be done? and How?
This brings me up with a few choices. The first and most evident choice is a total uprising or revolution. These revolutions have achieved a lot in the western world. We have read about green revolution, industrial revolution, and many similar fancy names in history. The result of these revolutions are quite evident from the economy and the living conditions in the West. Some nations like Japan, Korea and Taiwan have climbed up the ladder of developing economy and have emerged as leaders in their own way. What sort of a revolution has achieved this upliftment in their societies is a concern to the economists and politicians. What we are concerned about is the 48 year old independent India which is currently engulfed in various crisis and chaos. Let's think about the practical aspects of a revolution in India. Is it going to be a bloody revolution? Most definitely, looking at the present unrest or imbalance in the society. So, many will die. Who will survive? Definitely the rich who can afford to buy people and the people who can afford to sell themselves to the rich. The upper middle class will survive because they are the ones who will be courageous enough to start the revolution. The sufferers are the lower middle class and the poor. Nothing can be said about the aftermath of this revolution. There are countries who are looking forward to such an uprising so that they can invade the economy and control it. India might go back to its slavery once again.
The other alternative is to start building the economy in a non-violent way, a baby step at a time, with the future in mind. This is sometimes the most disliked way because the results are not evident immediately. People lose patience and think about quick alternatives like Subhas Bose did during the independence movement. I am not saying that Subhas Bose did anything wrong. He had the best of intention in mind. But it did not help him or anyone. Here we should take the age old advice "Slow and Steady Wins the Race".
I am personally in favour of a slow and non-violent solution. What I am naming as a solution is just a dream right now. The starting point for such movements is the identification of the problems. Let's see, I can list 10,000 problems but I can't solve all of them. So, I have to be more tactful. This leads me to a few ideas. I can either concentrate on problems that need some financial backing in order to achieve a progress or I can start with problems that need none or small financial expenditure. Thinking about starting an Engineering college in Orissa or anywhere does not solve the basic problem that we are facing. In fact we are starting a series of other problems related to finding jobs for these graduates and also maintenance of the institution. So, while we have the best intention in mind, we are in fact diverting from the main problems and concentrating on some new problems. The other extreme of this problem identification and solution process comprise of donating cash or kinds to beggars or the needy. As I always said : Donating a book to a rural library does not mean that the illiteracy problem is solved. It might aid the solution process or it may not at all depending on the type of book donated and the interest of the user. This brings me to the most vital issue of crisis being faced in India, i.e. the interest of the people.
When I said "the interest", I meant the initiative and the enthusiasm of the Indian individuals to fall into the upliftment circle. This leads me to the most important problem : Education. We know about it, we have identified it but we don't know how to implement it or achieve success in educating the people. When I say education, I am not bothering about the certified education. I am rather more concerned about the general awareness and responsibility of the Indian population. Once we can make the people aware and responsible, we have solved 99% of our problem without resorting to any violence. This is where we need devoted people and a generation of sacrifice. Mahatma Gandhi's generation sacrificed to bring us freedom, it is time we sacrificed to bring our next generation happiness and prosperity. No nation has moved up without sacrifice. This is true for India too. But we are not ready for a sacrifice. We think about our own selfish interest and leave the rest on fate.
Let me identify a few means to achieve educational upliftment. As we all know that "Charity begins at home". The first way is to increase awareness through the media. How many of us like to publish in Indian journals or magazines? None or very few. Let's learn from the Europeans and Australians. Although they live and work in USA, they publish their work on a regular basis in the journals published in their countries. This helps the people of their country to get the first hand information on the most recent research or development, plus it increases the general awareness of these people. Well let's start with something similar. This will not cost us a penny. Furthermore, our journals will publish quality work and this will increase the standard of publication. A second way is to support a child on our own. I know many students and other individuals doing this. It does not cost us too much and a child is being educated. We can also arrange through societies devoted to promote education in order to go and talk to people about a particular issue such as health and disease, clean environment, computer software development, etc. This can be arranged whenever we are going on a trip to visit India. We can arrange to donate books to rural libraries but we have to identify volunteers who are willing to promote adult education. The type of book donated must be such that the users will be interested in reading these. There are many such areas which can be identified and their solutions attempted. This might take a long time to see success but when the time comes it will also bring glory without bloodshed. We need a forum of discussion for planning out either on an individual basis or as a group. Of course the most important catalyst in achieving this success is what I have personally benefited and believed strongly after coming to USA : In God We Trust.
The subjective worth of the article is its strength. It forces us to think with a different perspective in mind. But as I have gone through this process several times, I'll not have any difficulty expressing my views.
The writer has understated the meaning of "revolution" or probably wrongly associated its meaning with bloody unrest. I beg to defer with him. Revolution has much higher meaning than stipulated in the article. The writer did mention about its higher goals when he talks about industrial revolution etc. But he suddenly changes its meaning while trying to make his point.
Also he has misinterpreted the Gandhian revolution. The armed revolution of 1857, the social renaissance era of Rammohan. Bankim, Vivekananda, the armed revolutionary movements of Bengal, Maharastra and Punjab had already prepared the seed for a Gandhi type technique in future. Had these historical roots not been taken, who knows what would have been the fate of Gandhi's technique. Probably he would have miserably failed too like many others. And we would have counted Gandhi among the disasters, the way writer has done in case of Subhas Bose. I think we have an aversion for micro level analysis of historical processes. Gandhi's philosophy has been one of my guiding pricnciples, but not at the exclusion of many more who perished in the process. Another example is Martin Luthar King Jr. Just analyse the history of Black movement before his arrival.
Coming to the main point. Is it possible to convince my next generation that the state of affair in India will take its better shape slowly? I have talked to many youngsters born and brought up here. The most obvious response is: India is a great country, but I would not like to stay in that country. Here lies the confusion of our kids. They were forced to believe that India is a great country by some parental pressure (sometimes also by worsening social tension in this country), but they are not convinced. For they have not seen tangible results.
Young mind is restless. This is the chemistry of human physiology. If we delay the process of growth, we are more likely to produce psychologically broken youths. The process has already started. So we need to stop it as soon as possible. The examples can be drawn from the last two to three years of surging economy in India. I hear from my friends that there is renewed vigor among the youths. There is a hope. Of course it has its own repercussions. But as such every revolution has its repercussions. There is no fool proof solutions to every problem. We have one solution better than the other. While the points raised by the writer is worth considering, but it must be viewed with added objectivity. The point is Revolution is absolutely necessary, but what would be its shape, a bloody or a peaceful one, would be decided by the present intelligentsia and social course the country would take. There is no definitive direction that it should take, as suggested by the writer.
Another important point that I would like to make is that there was no such reality as "Rama Rajya". It is high time that we break away from such illusion, and teach our future generation accordingly.
Now there is a renewed thinking among the youths here to go back to India. Why? Because there is a rapid change of situation. So Acceleration is the key mantra that should guide present leadership in India.
Your comments are always welcome...
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