“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”
Many of you would have come across these famous words by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay who was primarily responsible for introducing English education to the Indian masses during the colonial era. These words does remind each and everyone of certain interesting but forgotten facets of the Indian history. First of all, from reading the first few lines it is very clear that Indians of the 18th century were really wealthy both morally and materialistically. This is a matter of pride for us Indians of the 21st century.
In hindsight it can also be argued today with alarming prudence the present condition of the Indian masses. With more that half a century of freedom from any imperialistic domination, today’s India is a poor shadow of its former self. These days while one traverses the news that comes from the Indian subcontinent, it is seen to be filled with notorious tales that puts to shame any claims of the high moral fibre that we once possessed. In addition, the never ending reports of inglorious corruption by the ruling elite and the common man, the high and low, resident or non resident Indians shows the depths of our degeneration.
Thiruvalla, my hometown is a small hamlet in the southern part of India. Home to a meagre population of about 50,000 people, this town is the wealthiest town in the whole of India purely by the monetary deposits in two SBTs (State Bank of Travancore) present in the town. The infrastructure of the town is always in a state of disrepair with water clogged roads, never ending traffic congestion, poor civic services etc. The true asset of this town is its residents and a huge diaspora of non residents settled comfortably in Western Hemisphere, Middle East and elsewhere. The wealth accumulated in these banks are the savings deposited by this hard working and extremely successful diaspora. It is always an irony to any casual visitor of this town when he compares the infrastructure and the condition of the town with the hidden and inaccessible wealth hidden in its banks.
This is the situation in many parts of the country. All Indians, resident/ non resident expects a lot from the government to resolve many of their issues, while hoarding wealth which could benefit in the betterment of the lives of their fellow beings. This is a cultural issue and it stems from the very fact that Macaulay boasted in his statement. The educational system in India stresses upon the importance of quantity rather quality in its approach to developing the attributes of a citizen early on his life. The intense competitive spirit, cramming of subject content matter before a rigorous examination system drains the ability of many Indians to subjectively think, decide and rationally approach problems and derive logical solutions. The former also induces a stress filled environment which claims the lives of thousands of students as victims each year. If there is any intention to change the culture of any Indian, it has to start with a total revamp of its bloated educational system, that teaches its pupils how to be mere workers rather than entrepreneurs.
Religion is a big facet of the Indian culture. The temples, churches and the mosques overflow with unheard of wealth and pomp. There was a news item recently about unheard quantities of wealth found in Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum totalling to about US$22 billion with a note saying that if the value of antiques were taken into account these assets could be worth ten times the current market price. This is the case with all the religious organisations in India. The gods of these organizations in India are indeed wealthy and fortunate.
At the same it was also reported recently that the total outflow of black money from India since 1947 and till 2010, was $232 billion which is roughly about 12% of India’s GDP in 2010. These are all big money figures. Tragically the GDP per capita income of India is only $3650 and is ranked 126th in the world.
These are some of the figures that show how humongous amounts of wealth is being ‘pissed away’ as the country rots to the ground. India is home to the world’s largest youth population of which a majority of them are jobless. 33% of the entire population of India lies below the poverty line. Rampant corruption ensures that while this figure increases, the percentage of the middle class compresses. The stagnant percentage of the wealthy simply becomes wealthier.
In the 21st century India, most of the wealth is inaccessible or stolen from Indians. As tall claims are being made of India being the 21st century’s tiger to China’s dragon, these figures show how India has failed to channel these enormous amounts of wealth to the welfare of all its citizens.
To summarize this article, I would like to recollect a famous quote by Allan Watts: The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it’s only money… they don’t know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination. Our imagination has been successfully stifled since we are completely enslaved and dominated. Macaulay’s reforms has successfully ensured that India is dominated by its own contradictions and passiveness.