Sundeep Bhutoria

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

After 63 years, are we any better!

Hotel Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur: This is my first visit to Malaysia. Though I have had Malaysian visa in the past but somehow the trip did not materialise due to last minute changes. I arrived here today evening on a United Nations invitation to attend a conference. Tomorrow is the Indian Independence Day.
After six decades of Independence, I have started to question, like many others, if we were better off under the British rule. Though it hurts my national pride, there are good reasons to think so.
Recently I was aghast to see on television thousands of tons of food grains rotting in the open while millions of countrymen go hungry. Something is seriously wrong with India.
Are we actually confirming what Sir Winston Churchill and the Indian Communists once said? Churchill, the outspoken opponent of Indian Independence, had opined that India was incapable of self-governance while the Communists had raised the slogan`Yeh azadi jhoota hai’.
The British excelled in exploiting India simply because the system they put in place was ironically highly efficient and effective. They had clear-cut policies and targets for which they set in motion a well-oiled bureaucratic machinery that, in turn, rewarded merit and diligence.
In contrast, there is hardly any rule of law in India. What we now have is a criminal-political-bureaucratic regime playing poker with the lives of a billion plus citizens. The result is corruption and scams, zero accountability, tribal unrest, regionalism, Maoist menace, terrorist threats, farmer suicides, unstable and hostile neighbours, staggering price rise, unemployment and so on.
Might is Right seems to have replaced the Rule of Law in society. The life of an average Indian is miserable. Was this the kind of life we Indians struggled for against the British!
It is high time we sit and introspect.
Year after year, like a ritual, I have been attending the Independence Day function and the tea either at the Raj Bhawan in Kolkata or Jaipur or at the President House in Delhi. But tomorrow, I shall attend the formal Independence Day celebrations at Indian embassy in the morning.
The Indian Embassy in Malaysia informed me that formal reception was held on the eve of August 13th 2010 and that there would be only the flag hosting ceremony on August 15th at the Embassy.
I was thinking that besides the Indian Embassy, there must be other celebrations as Malaysia has a strong Indian community presence. There is an organisation of Indians called Bharat Club. I’ll have to find out if they are organising any celebrations.
The only other time I attended the Indian Independence Day abroad was in 1994 or 95 in London when L M Singhvi was the ambassador. I remember there was an arrangement to go to the venue of the celebration that was quite some distance from the India House. After the celebrations, I had a long chat with Singhvi ji on various issues. 
After some years when I met him in Jaipur at an award function with K K Birla, he remembered me instantly (picture).
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