Your India Tomorrow: An Open Letter to Young Indians by Kishore Asthana

This article penned down by Mr. Kishore Asthana is being reproduced as a Guest Article. Mr Asthana is a socio-political activist based out of Gurgaon. He can be reached via his email asthana1 [at] yahoo.com
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Hi,
 
You do not know me. However, that does not matter. I was born a couple of years before our independence and, over the last six decades I have seen India becoming less tolerant, more cynical, more corrupt and less ably run. We have now reached a level where you are staring in the face of a catastrophe. If you do not do anything about this, your next generation will suffer through this. All the omens are already there.
I will perhaps not be there to see your grandchildren but my children and grandchildren will be there and your children, too. They will be living in the India they inherit from you.This is why this message is important for you.
It is for you to take action at this point or all is lost. At a similar point in history, what Brutus tells Cassius in Julius Caesar is equally relevant for you:
 
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
 Omitted, all the voyage of their life
’s bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
 or lose our ventures.”
Brutus says this because “the enemy increaseth every day.” As it did for Brutus and Cassius, the enemy increases for you, too and, unchecked, it will overwhelm you and your children.
Let us imagine what kind of India we could have had if the enemy had not been so dominant. You would have a country where:
·    You open the tap at any time of the day and night anywhere in India and you get pure drinking water. No need for water purifiers.
·    You switch on the power at any time and the light goes on. No inverters or generators. Industries can run uninterrupted by power cuts.
·    You want to get your child admitted to school and you do not have to pay a fortune or stand in long lines. Perhaps you can do it online.
·    There is a choice of good public school, where the standard of education is second to none.
·    It you want to go from town A to town B, you could drive on a clean, broad highway without having to stop for paying tolls.
·    You want to go for an evening walk and you can do so without the danger of stepping into garbage, getting run over by a car, twisting your ankle in a pothole or getting mugged. There are cycle tracks and pedestrian walkways. Even ramps for the handicapped.
·    You can go out of town without worrying about your house being burgled.
·    The Police Station is a welcoming place instead of a place to be feared.
·    A case in the court does not take years and years and the guilty are punished promptly and fairly.
·    A country where the rule of law prevails and the law does not get manipulated by those in power. When the ministers opine, “the law will take its own course” as they do in every case, the law is allowed to take its own course with speed and fairness. Where Commissions of enquiry are really effective and quick instead of becoming interminable sinecures for retired judges and others.
.  A country where your voice is heard not only pretend-heard during election time and forgotten thereafter.
·    Where none of those who make laws for you and me are themselves criminals.
Most of these and many other such things are taken for granted by the residents of many other countries. Why can we not enjoy them here?
However improbable this happening in India may occur at first glance, it is possible for us to have these too – and fairly easily. The reason I say this is because resources are not the constraint, our will and ability to ensure their honest usage is.
Yes, we have more than enough resources. However, most of these do not go into the implementation of schemes. They are stolen by the corrupt. We have become a country that attracts comments from leaders abroad mentioning that bribery is a natural thing in India and that no deals are possible without paying bribes. The truth is borne out by our scams.
If you care to go through the depressing details of all the scams in India where massive amounts of money has been fraudulently taken away, do visit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scandals_in_India#2000s
This site lists all major scams. You will be surprised at the sheer number. However, for a young person, it is very necessary to learn what kind of a country we are living in.
Just the following five scandals will illustrate what I mean:
Scandal
Year reported
Scope
Location
Key players
2012 Indian coal mining controversy
2012
185,591.34 crore (US$33.78 billion)
India
Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the coal ministry, many electricity boards and private companies
Karnataka Wakf Board Land Scam
2012
200,000 crore (US$36.4 billion)
Karnataka
Uttar Pradesh NRHM scam
2012
10,000 crore (US$1.82 billion)
Uttar Pradesh
Mayawati
2G spectrum scam
2010
176,000 crore (US$32.03 billion)
national
Nira Radia, A. Raja, M. K. Kanimozhi, many telecommunications companies
Uttar Pradesh food grain scam
2003
35,000 crore (US$6.37 billion)
Uttar Pradesh
Kapil Sibal, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati
The total scope for just these five scams is nearly US $ 110 billion. Rs, 6,06,591 crores – imagine, Rs. 6,06,59,100,00,000. To put this figure in perspective, our Planning Commission had mandated that a villager earning above around Rs. 8,250 per annum will not be considered above the poverty level.
These are only 5 scams. This list does not contain major scams such as the recent Helicopter Scam (360 crore bribes paid), the Tatra Truck Scam involving 7,000 army trucks, the Antrix Devas deal, the Rs. 8,000 crore Satyam scam,  the massive CWG scam etc. Details of 246 scams are mentioned on this site.
One other thing is noteworthy about this list of scams. The scams listed per year are and show that the number of scams has been rising geometrically over the last three years:
2012: 41 scams
2011: 23 scams
2010:   9 scams
2009:   9 scams
2008:   6 scams
2007:   none
2006:   2 Scams
Not only the number of scams has increased, the quantum has reached astronomical figures. Clearly the enemy is becoming more and more fearless. And, why should they not become fearless? There is no risk of punishment. No one is held accountable. Almost all the main players involved in these scams are sitting pretty. They are even ministers and chief ministers. They control the investigative arms of the government and, even when the matter reaches our judiciary, cases drag on for decades, till these accused die of natural causes. So, why should the unscrupulous fear the law?
Much of our black money is stashed in property deals, gold and other assets in India itself. However, much of it is sent abroad. According to a Swiss Banking Association Report (2006), “India has more black money than the rest of the world combined.” In 2006, Indians had stashed almost $1,456 billion in black money in Swiss banks. Then there are banks in Mauritius, Channel Islands, the Far East and other tax havens. Imagine, just the Swiss bank balances spirited out of India till 2006 would have enabled $ 100,000 – Rs. 50 lakhs – to be spent on every individual Indian. And this is just till 2006. Would it not then be possible for us to fulfil our wish list for our country?
A report by Global Financial Integrity mentions that the Indian economy lost $123 billion in “black money” between 2001 and 2010. This is money that was illegally earned, transferred or used and stashed abroad.
Do you know how much India spends in a year in social services including healthcare and education? Just $ 3.6 billion. If we could have saved just 3% of the black money, we could have doubled our expenditure on health, education and welfare.
So this, my young fellow Indians, is the crux of the matter. You have a choice to do something about this or just let the enemy keep getting stronger. You are, in the true sense, the Bharat Bhagya Vidhata – the arbiter of India’s destiny.
What can you do to change things and to bring prosperity to India? You have your opportunity to bring about change now. The elections in various state assemblies are around the corner. The Parliamentary elections are scheduled in 2014. What you can do is this:
·      Register as a voter. Help get everyone in your family and friends get a Voter ID.
·      Scrutinise the background of all candidates. The information is available in their affidavits filed with the election commission and is a matter of public record, easily accessed on the EC’s website. Do not vote for anyone with a criminal record.
·      See the promises of political parties for what they are – mere promises. Compare them to the promises made before the previous elections – how many of these have been kept? Any political party which does not keep its poll promises lacks integrity.
·      See if the candidate or the party in question is trying to woo members of a certain religion or community by promising or giving special privileges. Such parties are divisive and cynical and best avoided.
·      Confirm your polling booth and the page number on which your name figures in the Voter’s list, before the Polling Day.
·      On Polling day, go out to vote. Also insist that all your friends and family go out and vote. Participation in our democratic process is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity. The black ink mark on your finger, certifying that you have voted, is one black mark you can be justifiably proud of. By not voting, you are playing in the hands of the cynical and corrupt.
·      Vote for those candidates who are sincere and honest and have a track record of working for the constituency and the people of India even when they are not in power.
·      Spread the word amongst other young people. Make them aware of the critical stage India is in. The tide in the affairs of Indians must not be allowed to go waste.
Why should you listen to me, especially since I am no guru?
The word guru comes from gu (darkness) and ru (light). A guru is one who leads you from darkness to light. I cannot lead you from darkness to light, from corruption to honesty, from sloth to activity, from childishness to maturity, from folly to wisdom. Only you can do that.
Yes, I am not a guru, but I am still relevant, for I am a mirror that shows the kind of image we project in the world today. If you do not like what you see, you can stop looking or you can do something about it.
I hope you will choose to act, for if you don’t. Your children will live in a worse India for what they see in the mirror, and what the world sees in it will become murkier and murkier. The choice, as usual, is yours.

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