Friday, July 23, 2010

Given a chance every one can be productive in India

India speaks about a growth rate of 9% and IT boom etc on one hand. On the other talks about perpetuating the caste system which is neither helpful to advance the society nor helpful to the well being. The classification of people once used to define social hierarchy and occupation in the ancient times later got corrupted to be used for discrimination of human beings born in one of the oldest civilizations. Today this system is being used to develop a discriminatory system sanctioned by the government, abused by the society and taken advantage by a minority. Affirmative actions don't help much except that it gives a platform to fight for legal rights.

 India needs to change its tact if it needs to improve it human capital. Clearly its outdated implementation of affirmative action conceived in the post independence era has not worked to help the poor especially in the rural and tribal areas. It has now become a system loathed by the majority and used solely for the purpose of "feel good factor" by successive governments. It has neither improved the social standing or social status of few who have benefited from it as they have now become the "creamy layer" of the discriminating system and  they themselves do not see the discrimination they are imposing on less fortunate members of their own caste, subgroup etc.

There is an urgent need to change social mindset of India. Once the governments sets up such systems based on age old social discriminatory system and so called "good intentions" it has every chance of being misused and abused by all to perpetuate such discrimination rather than removing them. It becomes a "license" to discriminate rather than treat all people as equal and with equal capacity for achievement if equal opportunity is provided. The net result is that the poor and helpless irrespective of whether they are the legal beneficiaries of such a discriminatory system continue to suffer due to social conditioning, fear based mindset and lack of access to facilities and services due to geography or social barriers.

To change the social attitudes what should India do? Stop its affirmative actions? Create a social system?. Communists of the world tried their best to remove discriminatory systems through a social ideology based system which to a large extent resulted in abuse of the system and promoting lowest common denominator. Therefore it is not a solution. To prosper, a society needs incentive and competition. However such a society also needs to develop level playing ground for all to play fairly and without handicaps put on them. India is no such society. So what is the answer? To some extent Right to Education Bill has in its own way led this change. RTE bill has signaled to the society, markets and everyone in a legal manner that all who are born in India have a full legal right to education or Vidya a scared right revered and coveted right from the ancient Vedic times to today. The RTE has also sent a social signal to everyone who tries to deny this right. The RTE has clearly said that it is no longer about those who choose to avail the reservation system to get education that matters but everyone has the right to education just as one has the right to breathe and eat.

The RTE if implemented in the right manner coupled if at all with a "Bill of Rights" to the citizens of India, will be instrumental in changing the social conditioning in India through education. Women and children once educated, will no longer be held hostage by the caste system and placement of people in pigeon holes perpetuated by the government. Even basic literacy will enable women to get access to information rather than be misled by manipulations and misinformations provided by so called well intentioned relatives, family and friends.

It is well known around the world that creating affirmative action will only go so far. Creating so called job guarantee schemes for the poor will provide a quasi welfare system which once again underestimates their capacity to participate in the mainstream economy  and further undermines them by saying to them you are capable of any productive activity only if the government provides you with a false wage for a non market needed job. More than that it provides "welfare conditioning" and lack of self worth and confidence amonst the recipients. Developing and providing access to services and education will go a long way in changing social systems and age old superstitions and conditioning which people cling on to due to fear and habit.

Poor people may not contribute today directly for development of IT code or apps. It would be a huge mistake to underestimate their capacity and hunger to improve given half a chance. They can use the tools of e-commerce to participate in the market economy and be as productive as anyone else. Microcredit systems have shown that providing small loans to people to develop small business enterprises has led to change in the mentality of just being subservient labourers to small business owners with capacity to make decisions which includes market based decisions. Participation in markets will provide confidence and finances required to take certain risks and change in the mindset. This is the true benefit of RTE not just the education and literacy.

If every Indian who is earning gave Rs 100 per year to help a poor students to buy books then many kids will be able to get education. Education is the key to making the society and life better for all. Businesses should think about what would it be for their benefit if many kids who are getting educated today become either employees or customers of their businesses in a few years time.

An IT company, a corner store needs customer base to survive and compete when so many people are competing for the same Rs. Everyone in India should think about atleast meeting a small cost of education of a  poor child. there is no excuse to say what can we do the problem is too big. A boy who begs today or a girl who sells flowers for 10 rupees today can become a customer or a business or an employee of the business. Indian society which has benefited from education, first needs change its mindset of marginalizing, pitying and providing lip service to the poor. 

Every mighty ocean is made of little drops of water from rain. Every rupee counts. Don't just complain. Don't just blame the government or those around you or those "rich people".  Participate either by your self or through a charity or provide a loan through microcredit. Any one who provides an excuse is just an unwilling lip service provider.Publish Post

To quote someone "Helping hands are thousand times better than talking lips"
"Be the change you want to see" " There is enough for everyone's need not everyone's greed"- Mahathma Gandhi.