Commonwealth and Common Good

Yesterday on TEDIndia, Hans Rosling predicted that the average Indian would match up to the average American on 27th July, 2048 (yes, he’s even got the date). The Twitter stream was overflowed with Tweets rejoicing in the prediction. I am not sure if this is because of the TED organizers believing that “Indians are feel-gooders anyway, so let us just give them such feel-good statistics“, but I think Mr. Rosling has got a point there. We are matching up with America of the early days on many fronts. We are fast discriminating and ignoring some sections of people in our society. We are almost on the tip of a civil war. The central Government (with support from other political parties and corporations) has declared war on Naxalism which is sure to take the lives of it’s own people, including the innocent tribal people. I do understand the need for a military action against militant forces that threats the existence of a country, but it is going to be a mere exercise as a solution because the Government is doing almost nothing to root out the root problem – Though the Prime Minister himself has identified that very root problem.

There has been a systemic failure in giving tribals a stake in the modern economic process that inexorably intrude into their living places. The alienation built over decades is now taking a dangerous turn. The systematic exploitation and social and economic abuse of our tribal communities can no longer be tolerated.

That is what our PM has said some weeks back. And what is being done to solve that issue?

As Himanshu Kumar, a Gandhian and the only human rights activist on ground zero in faraway Dantewada where Operation Green Hunt is to be launched, says, “We can all be agreed on the premise that Naxalism is a problem, but why are these poor people attracted to a politics that will end in death? Have we created such a heinous system that death is more attractive than the deprivations and humiliations this system doles out? If that is so, why should I defend this system? All that these people want is food, health care, school, clothes and their legitimate right over their land. Yet, instead of weaning them away by strengthening the democratic process, if we are going to run our democracy only on the strength of weapons, I fear we are entering a dangerous and irrepairable state. We are headed for civil war.” Men like Himanshu should know. For 17 years, he has functioned like an ICU on the edges of a wounded society, providing education and health care, painstakingly drawing tribals into the electoral and constitutional process. The government, loath to undertake the trouble, has been happy to outsource its functions to him. Yet now, it is deaf to his wisdoms. Worse, it hasn’t even consulted him. [via]

And yesterday the Headlines India tweeted that “The government today more than doubled the budget for the 2010 Commonwealth Games from Rs.767 crore to Rs.1,620 crore“. Commonwealth seems to be more important than Common Good in this country. Such is our time.