A lost era


On a walk in JNU one morning, I saw this old gentleman out for his daily stroll. There was something about that morning…that setting…that immediately transported me to a bygone era. As this gentleman walked along, leaning on his walking stick, his Gandhi glasses and Nehru topi (cap) and jacket evoked an image of pre-independence India in my mind.

The road stretching out behind him seemed to bear testimony to the many years he must have struggled for the country’s independence. I wondered what he must think of that hard won independence now…of today’s youth, who sometimes appear to lack purpose and conviction…of the state of the country — is this the future he would have imagined for India? A large, fast-growing country, home to 52 billionaires (and that number keeps growing), with the 100 wealthiest people having a combined net worth of $276 billion, about 25% of the country’s GDP*, but that is still grappling with poverty and illiteracy, bureaucracy and corruption…After giving his sweat and blood and tears to help the nation win its independence, what must he think of the country now?

* Figures from Forbes India's Special report on India's 100 Richest, dt. 11-18-2009.

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