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An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Damodardas Modi from Mark Ulyseas
Namasker Prime Minister
India is more than just a country. It is a civilisation akin to the tree of life, self sustaining and self generating. When a branch is cut off, another grows in its place. Its fruits are carried across its borders to impregnate other cultures. The vibrant ethos shelters all that seek refuge in her embrace.
From a chaiwalla you have worked your way up to become the Prime Minister of India. In the general election you have decimated the clichéd political elite and their parties that are run like ‘family businesses’. The electorate has responded by giving you a victory the likes of which has never been witnessed in three decades.
Now comes the part when over a billion people will expect you to wave your magic wand and fix all that ails this country.
So where does one begin?
Here are a few pointers that may interest you:
1. In the last decade it is claimed that over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide. The reasons have been attributed to failure of GM crops and loan sharks preying on the subsistence farmers.
2. It is believed that approximately 400 million people live on or below the poverty line.
3. 700 million people do not have toilets.
4. 70% of Indians live in rural areas. Clean drinking water, free schools that actually function properly, electricity, medical facilities and more are seriously lacking. Education for all is still a dream.
5. There are about 15 million men, women and children who are slaves in India (bonded labourers).
6. Millions of illegal immigrants (Nepalese, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi and Burmese) live and work in India. It is claimed that these people have bank accounts, voter cards, ration cards etc. Can India afford to keep these people when it has around 400 million people living on or below the poverty line?
7. The rivers of India and in particular the Ganga are dangerously polluted. What is going to be done about this? Are there stringent laws on pollution – not just for polluting industries but for individuals, too?
8. Environmentalists claim that the forest cover is being destroyed at the rate of 333 acres a day due to large development projects like dams, roads and mining. And this is directly responsible for; the destruction of the habitat of endangered species, including the ever increasing man-animal conflict; and weather patterns. There is a high level of poaching and trade in wildlife. The Legal system is ineffective in combating this illegal activity.
10. The Seven Sisters (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) are like the proverbial poor cousins. Why have they been grossly overlooked? It is also observed from media reports that students/others from these States face racism in other parts of the country. Assaults are not uncommon.
11. People from northern Indian States face persecution by political zealots in Mumbai. Does not the Constitution of India guarantee one’s right to live and work anywhere in India?
12. When will the historical rights of the Kashmiri Pandits be addressed? Have they permanently lost their ancestral rights to land and livelihood in Kashmir due to the Muslim terrorists who killed many of them and hounded the rest out of the State? Reports reveal that successive governments ignored their plight and left them to be refugees in their own country. When will they get justice?
13. The perpetrators of the massacre of innocent Sikhs following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 have yet to be brought to justice. Some ring leaders have died of old age or sickness!
14. The red corridor appears to be growing. Maoists continue to slaughter government officials and others. Even Election Commission officials were not spared. When will this anarchy end?
15. The Chief Ministers’ of States are as powerful as the PM, if not more, in many cases. This has a detrimental effect on Centre-State relations resulting in delay of projects, schemes etc.
16. The Indian Armed Forces are poorly equipped. Major arms purchases have been kept on hold for lack of political will and funds. A complete overhaul of the process needs to be implemented immediately.
17. Why has Ladakh not been given Statehood?
18. Curbing corruption appears to be the mantra. This cannot be stopped by government alone but by the power of the people. If people stop giving bribes and expose corrupt officials by filming them secretly taking bribes, by putting their names and photographs on the internet…then and only then can corruption be stopped. The government must introduce stringent laws including the prosecution and sacking of government officials. Unfortunately, corruption is endemic even in the private sector. So the people’s mindset will have to change.
It is time to define what it means to be Indian.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om
01 June 2014