Reading an article by Ms Kasturi GVL, an Indian lady, in The New Times last Monday, December 10, I was reminded of my two short visits to her awesome country. “Awesome” in the sense of its immense size and large, resourceful population.
A people who seem to lead diametrically contrasting lifestyles.
Of course, two health-related short visits cannot tell you much about such a huge and diverse society.
But in the area of health, you can’t help being astounded by seeing some of their top-notch hospitals of international standard sitting in the midst of squalor and murky poverty.
Still, what’ll be more intriguing is that those hospitals or hospital chains may belong to a few family members or individuals.
And they are the saviour resorts of international patients, including those from the advanced countries of Europe and North America. But while the hospitals milk dollars from international patients, they don’t forget to treat their own poor at next to zero rupees, in a marvel of a health scheme.
Having only made flitting visits, however, I lack a broad understanding of the country’s full picture.
I can only say that the numerous airports, especially domestic, serviced mostly by their many domestic airlines and always full to capacity of locals speaks to a people who are fast advancing towards the level of superpowers. Especially that whatever they consume, they themselves manufacture.
Name any industry, they are in it. From aviation to railway, automobile, science and technology, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, media and entertainment, tourism and hospitality, on and on.
So why the dirt, disorder, poverty, slums, rampant begging, crime, the lot? Surely, spreading out that wealth a little would solve these minor headaches.
Then Ms Kasturi wouldn’t have to bemoan gender discrimination or women’s travel insecurity.
“…a study in Delhi showed that 51 [%] of women had faced some form of harassment while using public transport and 42 [%] while waiting for it,” laments she in the “Women, work and India’s rickshaw revolution” article.
For safety, she suggests “…a connected, smart ecosystem with auto-rickshaws at its heart. Rickshaws equipped with GPS systems…[and]…a mandatory SOS alert…[as]…a means to call for help…”.
Which rickshaws make me cringe when I think of the madness on Indian roads.
That madness has been dabbed “organised chaos” but looked like terror on the road to me. An old lady carrying her daughter and a few of her grand-children on a small scooter, then weaving through traffic without a care in the world?
When that traffic involves lorries, buses, cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, scooters, bicycles, say it, that are weaving and squeezing through other traffic and holy cows, to move as if they’ve never heard of traffic rules?
With every driver or rider blaring their honk, you wonder how on earth anyone can tell which vehicle is hooting; one on the side, back, front or anywhere around.
And they seem to relish it! Almost every back of a vehicle pleads with anyone behind to “Please sound your horn!” in clear, bold letters.
Amazing India, indeed! In all that cacophony of noise and bedlam, not once did I witness any accident!
Which, when you think of it, validates the “organised chaos” assertion.
Take the highway to the airport and the said contrast phenomenon will come alive. Here you meet the epitome of order, cleanliness, spotless sidewalks lined with beautiful greenery all the way. In fact, in some places even the ever-present cloud of polluted air will have evaporated!
Which goes to show that Indians are capable of easily organising their chaos and disorder.
You only need to see how they are almost dominating the commerce industry of the globe to know that India has no reason at all to entertain poverty and dirt.
The leadership needs to mobilise all its departments so as to organise the powerful diaspora and local opulence and link them with the poor. With all working together, they can ensure general security, order and wellbeing. And with their advanced science and technology, it’d be no sweat.
In Kigali, for instance, I was recently surprised to learn that our street CCTV cameras are not alone in providing security. There is a red button I’d never noticed on the camera posts that’ll instantly stop the women harassment in Ms Kasturi’s story.
Press that emergency button and state your problem and sirens will converge around you in no time.
The grapevine has it that government intends to equip all Rwandan streets and roads with those hawk-eyed ‘guards’.
If Rwanda with her limited resources and short re-invented life has registered progress in areas of security and wealth creation for all, imagine what the powerful Indian sub-continent in its long life should be capable of.
If the leadership organised all its departments to work together and with every single individual without discrimination, India could be catapulted to an egalitarian superpower.
Firm leadership may be called a dictatorship or whatever the West may cook up.
But methinks a laissez-faire, free-wheeling democracy may be detrimental to egalitarian growth and broad-sense security for all.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.