My non-Gujarati friends were also following 2014 Gujarat elections and had several observations:
- The election wasn’t about 24*7 availability of electricity, drinking water or better infrastructure because there were taken for granted in Gujarat
- There were towns in which pipelined cooking gas was an emotive issue
- There were towns with medical colleges but no neurology department and emotions ran high
- There was someone lamenting lack of development because getting down from Ahmedabad airport didn’t feel like getting out of Changi airport of Singapore
- There were unhappy middle aged souls whose children had to commute 40 km for a job paying Rs. 15,000/- a month with exasperation about “This way when he will drive a Porsche?”
- There was dissatisfaction in a town where the Bullet Train wasn’t going to stop
One of the recent Gujarati hit songs has a man promising his love about an Audi car and a Europe tour package.
This is no Gujarat-bragging. Even in Punjab, Congress had to promise about helping youth in immigration to the Western world for better life style.
Looking at the deep, wide and rapid exposure to more developed parts of the world through internet and tourism, I am sure not only more “foreign-exposed” Gujarat and Punjab but Telangana, Seemandhra and Karnataka will also soon join this tide of high aspirations.
Remaining India is also not so behind. Political competition to provide better civic facilities was identified by Vajapayee and is now in full swing. In a decade or so, most promises that are made today are either to become a reality or the promising parties will become history.
One of my friends, a Malayalee Christian, had observed in 2013 that Modi would win 2014 riding on people’s rising aspirations but 2019 will crush him under the same wave. How true it sounds now in the light of Patidar, Jat and Maratha agitations!
One crucial point to note is that the song is composed in crude, semi-literate Gujarati, the promise was made to semi-skilled Punjabi youth and Deccan rising will come from film-star-worshippers, not space-star-watchers. In other words, the mass has started dreaming too big for their eyes.
No empire in the world, be it Western Europe, Arabs, Guptas, Rome or Achaemenid Persia could provide EVERY luxury to even a limited class of citizens. To provide such luxury to larger section of its society, a state had to deploy unethical mechanisms of apartheid, slavery, caste system, religious discrimination and colonialism, inviting its fall.
Now visualizing a tsunami of aspirations of 1.25 billion Indians fully franchised and using their vote as bargain, pressuring its political class to deliver the lifestyle only erstwhile colonizing countries enjoy! Imagine the pressure that is likely to build up on Indian polity in next a decade or two!
Also, to learn from Greeks, democracies also doom themselves by voting for minimization of tax, thus reducing the social security for its citizenry. As is, Aadhar linking and other recent anti-tax-evasion techniques deployed by Indian government is meeting with increasing resistance. How will the political class of India going to continue to ride on this hungry tiger?
On a side note, China also is facing the similar a rise in aspirations. However, given democratic nature of Indian political system, pressure will rise in India too fast.
This is precisely the part that worries me. There is an increasing demand to perform and deliver. To some limits, it is feasible. Elimination of corruption will come as a by-product of this surge in demand. However, it will not suffice because the battle has moved from provision of needs to fulfillment of greed.
This will invariably switch the democracy to questionable ethical means of gathering resources for its electorate. There is already news about Indian companies contracting tens of thousands of hectares of land in Africa to grow crops to export to India. Already Indian and Chinese companies are in a race to secure petroleum, coal and other mining resources. Ports in Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, Chinese sea and Pacific Ocean are being cornered by these two peoples.
It is this possibility, this vision, which gives me jitters. It is the curse I have to bear because I have no control over it.
Dear readers, do you have any idea how we can avoid the fall out of upcoming tsunami of aspirations? Can we avoid upcoming disaster? Can we stop another world-wide conflict of two of the oldest civilizations? Can we stop another round of colonization? Is there some way to stay focused and end hunger, disease, pestilence, death and anarchy? Please speak up and help me think!