Some of my countrymen seem to be upset over what happened in the Rio Olympics last month. They complain our performance at the event offers yet another evidence that we are still far from being a great power. We don't care for our sports. India sent 119 athletes and 90 officials to Rio. Our athletes travelled by the poor economy class and the officials business . A marathon runner fainted as there was no Indian official to serve her water there. A provincial sports minister took a nine-member team to Rio and went sightseeing . And so on and so forth .
I wonder if it is not absolutely fallacious to assume India can be great on the basis of its economic, military or sports feats . No nation can be . India can be great only if its citizens come to enjoy a meaningful existence. Regrettably, the scene of our Republic is rather ugly on this front .
India became a Democratic Republic in November 1949. We are still far away from the values of democracy . Poverty, illiteracy, hunger , gender-based violence , insurgency, casteism, communalism and terrorism torment us . The nature of our state seems to be changing very fast. Our governance seems to be increasingly concerned with the interests of the newly emerging dominant political and corporate mafia and allies.
The successive dispensations – at the Centre as well as in States – have done little to foster the development of the entire nation . Our farmers have been committing suicides. Workers in general do not get a reasonable wage to live meaningfully with their basic needs --food, clothing, housing , primary education and health care—fulfilled .
There is little improvement in the centuries- old predicament of the depressed sections in our society . Despite the historic Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, atrocities against the Dalits continue across the nation. Our National Commission for Scheduled Castes has recently found that during the period from 2013 to 2015 of fifty-two to 65 per cent of crimes in Rajasthan had a Dalit as the victim. Uttar Pradesh accounted for 17 per cent of the crimes against the Dalits . Bihar contributed 16-17 per cent of all- India crimes against Dalits . So far as the atrocities reported by Dalits and overlooked by the authorities are concerned , Uttar Pradesh accounted for the highest number at 2024 cases, followed by Tamil Nadu at 999 .
The Commission has found that between 2012 and 2016 many States generally allocated funds to the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan on a par with their ratios in the total populations within the respective areas . But the states’ actual expenditure under this scheme was just between two and eight per cent of their allocation. Some States, including Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, did not furnish the complete data on the matter .
Will finer elements in our politics and governance care to defend the values of our Republic ? Last month our Government at the Centre organized a national campaign, ‘Yaad karo Qurbani,’ to recall the sacrifices of our great leaders who fought the mighty British Empire to attain our freedom. Prime Minister Narendra Modi started this campaign from Bhabra, the birthplace of the legendary freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad. Home Minister Rajnath Singh went over to the village of another freedom fighter Birsa Munda. We must go beyond organizing such campaigns and work hard to translate our freedom fighters’ dream .
The dream of our freedom fighters was to foster the development of all. It finds its best expression in our Constitution . This noble document directs our State to care for the economic interests of the weaker sections and not allow any concentration of wealth . Over to our leaderships in all parties and governments at the Centre and in the States !