Sunday, February 03, 2013

Mother India's Five-Point Plea

Thought you’d never ask.

So you want me to do a SWOT analysis on myself? Figure out my greatest problems and see how I can improve? I know the answers, you ignorant children of mine. And you do too, but you don’t care enough about me to work towards making things better. It suits you, this current situation. You benefit from it, and that is why even though you can try to bring in change, you won’t. What other explanation is there? What other excuse do you have?

Centuries of wisdom run through your veins. Your instinct is home to so much knowledge that people travelled far to seek. They battled all kinds of hazards just to reach me and drink of my learning. And I, profligate mother that I am, lavish that learning on you. Cause it to flow like water.

Anyway, what is the point of raking all that now? I’m only saying this because you asked me for my views on what ails me? Here are the diseases that I suffer from, in no particular order:

1) You have no respect for women. You worship a pantheon of goddesses and you revere me. But ordinary women, the kind who struggle to breathe and give life, they are ill treated by you. You may call me Bharat Mata or Mother India, depending on your background and your sensibilities, but women continue to be reviled by you, treated as mere objects, a sum of body parts. Your mother, wife, sister, daughter have to live a life that is subject to your rules. Their choices, you say, threaten your family honour, so they have to be kept under subjection. Eyes lowered, head covered, body parts hidden. These are the rules they must follow. Or suffer your lascivious eyes, your groping hands. But do your rules guarantee their safety or security. No. They are just a farce, to protect you, and give you an excuse to shift the blame on them.

First learn to keep your lusts under control, to think of women with respect. To see them as intelligent, sensitive beings with a mind of their own, not just as people who must cook and clean up after you.

If you are so insecure as to feel threatened by their freedom, seek to improve your characters and personalities, rather than subdue theirs.

Rapes, sexual assaults, molestation, and that horrifying reality that you trivialise as eve-teasing, they are all the stuff of too-real nightmares for half of the population. And yet you feel no shame at your part in bringing this situation to pass.

Learn to attach your sense of honour to the well-being of women everywhere and the sense of shame every time one of you commits an act that debases a woman.

2) Lack of governance: The history books your children learn talk about the glories of the past. But where are the glories of the present? From the smallest unit in the smallest village to the central level, the quality of governance is pathetic. Your elected representatives do nothing for the electorate, after the elections are over. They are too busy serving their own interests.

It’s time for you to step up to the plate. Make voting compulsory. Let people who fail to do their duty as citizens be stripped of privileges they take for granted. The poor come out to vote. It’s the rich who care little about whether their nation goes to the dogs or not and the middle class who smugly declare that things will never change that are to blame. Let those who fail to vote be taxed higher. Let the elected leaders be held accountable.

The lack of governance extends to the running of most systems. Courts, the police force, hospitals, schools, companies, they are all run without an effective leadership, without the urge to do good, to leave society better off. They all want to make a fast and quick buck at the expense of others.

Can you as people who pay for services demand quality in everything you pay for?

3) Lack of infrastructure: Development will never be achieved unless those responsible are held so on pain of punishment. Look at the roads, the railways, the airlines, the communication systems, they are all consistently and uniformly pathetic. You can seek to become another Shanghai or whatever other developed city catches your fancy. You won’t ever achieve it, unless you straighten out this mess.

4) Malnutrition and child labour: Sometimes I think you deserve this mess. No country deserves to aspire to glory and riches, if it cannot look after the welfare of its young ones.

Do you have any idea how many children under the age of 5 die every year of account of malnutrition? I will tell you. More than 47 per cent of Indian children under 5 suffer from malnutrition. That equals a figure of about 60 million children, the highest in the world. Two million Indian children under 5 die each year.

There are kids with distended stomachs like yours, but while yours are s due to excessive consumption, theirs are due to starvation and malnutrition.

Can you equip your primary health care such that every mother knows the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of her child’s life and thereafter supplementary feeding for at least till the baby turns two years of age? Can you inform poor mothers about inexpensive ways of bolstering theirs own and their children’s diets? Can you make these health supplements available at low rates? Can you make dahi and peanuts available to children to help them build body mass? Can you ensure that it does not become fodder for another scam?

Do you know how many children lose their childhoods forever because of child labour? Do you know how many of them suffer the attendant hazards of child trafficking and the doorway to evil that it opens?

Can you promise not to hire children in your homes and workplaces? Can you promise to boycott products that were made by the service and suffering of children? Can you do it in a manner that does not force them to the streets and to a worse life? Can you work towards the rehabilitation and education of such children?

5) Corruption: Nothing moves in this country unless money pushes it. And government ministers and officials think nothing of using their government powers for personal and illegitimate gain. I am ashamed of being ranked 94 on the list of the Global Corruption Index. Need I say more?

Can all political parties get together to set in motion a strong Lokpal with teeth? So everyone can be held accountable, and those who fail are penalised for it?

Know your rights, and hold your leaders accountable. Study how the best and most admirable systems of governance are run and learn from those examples.

There are other problems but I will restrict myself to these. Five has a nice ring to it, and you have a special fondness for it. Five-year plans, five-point agendas.

Let me see you tackle my list of five if you want me to be proud of the fact that you get your nationality and heritage from me.

I am,

Yours Sincerely,

Mother India

This post is a part of Weekend contest at in association with Chanakya's new manifesto


  1. Mother India is stifled and choked completely because we have given her reasons so many.
    Time to act!! Nice post. Congrats!

  2. Thanks, Manjulika. I am sure that Mother India, being a female entity, feels terribly insecure in a scenario in which her daughters feel so unsafe.

  3. Cynthia, beautifully written!! I agree with everything you said and couldn't have said it better myself :-)

  4. Thank you, Fab. Unfortunately, Mother India may rant and rave till the end of the world, but her children don't care enough.



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