India as we know it! by Mary Archana

I am a girl born and brought up in India in one of its twenty-nine states known as Telangana. I have spent eighteen years of my life in India and I can say with absolute conviction that I am proud to be an Indian. But that does not mean that the “Incredible India” is without any blemishes. It certainly has its flaws and that too in abundance. But every day we are a step closer from annihilating those flaws from India. And that’s probably why India is called as a developing country. But personally I would call it an “art in progress”.

Now the question arises why is India, even after 68 years of its independence from the British not yet a “developed” country? What is holding it behind? Well the answer to these questions lies in a story.

This story is about a girl named Pia.Pia was born into a poor family in a remote district in India. She had three elder sisters and one younger brother. Five children born into a wealthy family itself would be a challenging situation but to a financially unstable family it would be a nightmare! And that’s exactly how Pia’s life was. Her family was struggling to make ends meet. But despite their dire circumstances her parents were hell-bent on extending their family for the sole reason that they wanted a son. Because according to them only a son could carry the family’s name forward and would be the pride of the family. And if in this process the number of members in their family increase then it would mean that there would be more number of members to earn income and take care of them in the future. And if by chance anything happened to one of their children, there would be plenty of others to substitute their loss. As sad as this attitude is, it was quite common in several of the states in India.

But poverty and overpopulation were the least of Pia’s problems. She had to fight a battle everyday with her own family only because she was a girl.Pia and her sisters were instructed to be quiet, submissive and docile. And as a reward they would get the food left over by their younger brother or perhaps the least nutritive food in the house.Pia couldn’t even begin to comprehend the fact that the same girls who are considered as a “lakshmi” during pujas are treated so callously the rest of the days. And if she tried to raise her voice against this injustice she was reminded to be grateful of the fact that she was born at all and not killed during her birth which was the fate of so many other girls in their district.

Well, that is the way in which girls are treated in India even today.Pia and her sisters were resigned to their fate because they knew that no amount of cribbing or rebelling would change the age old traditions and mindset. But if there is anything that can shatter these illusions that we Indians seem to have is education. And Pia completely believed in the power of education. She and her siblings attended a government school. Now calling it a school would be a stretch because it had no proper infra-structure and hardly any teachers and those that they had were incompetent. Then there was the issue that half of the time the teachers were absent and the number of students were also very few. Now with these kinds of circumstances how would you expect a child to get the appropriate education which is their basic right? As if these issues weren’t enough Pia’s parents decided that education was a luxury they couldn’t afford. And when asked to choose between their daily meals and education, you can probably guess who the winner was.

Pia and her siblings were now forced to stay at home and attend to various chores. Saying the hygiene and sanitation conditions were horrible would be an understatement. Men and animals defecated out in the open whereas as women were forced to walk miles together to attend to nature’s call which proved to be quiet unsafe for them .Of course there were a few public washrooms built by the government which was rarely used because they were quite unclean and honestly the people preferred to do it out in the “open”. They didn’t realize that these could lead to various diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, dysentery and sometimes even death.

Pia’s best friend’s family was wealthy and they recently got the connection for fresh drinking water supply in their house. When Pia told this news to her parents they went to the authorities concerned to get their own drinking water supply. There they were informed of the procedure and the expenses. But they were told that it would take a while because there were quite a few numbers of applicants before them. However, they could probably get it done within a week provided they were incentivized to do so. When Pia’s ignorant parents asked what kind of incentive they would want, they insolently replied ‘money of course’. Pia’s parents could hardly believe what they were hearing as it was clear that they were in no position to spare any money. When they informed this to the officials they arrogantly said that then in that case they would have to wait forever to get their drinking water supply.

This is just a glimpse of corruption in its earliest stage. Corruption in India is larger and much more prominent than this. To do anything substantial in India without any bribery, exchange of black money or corruption would be a feat in itself.

Here lies the answer to the above questions i.e. all the issues that are described above prevent India from being a developed country. However, Pia’s story doesn’t end here, she grows up to be a beautiful and strong woman despite the circumstances. Even as a woman Pia tries to juggle all the curves that life throws her way. But the one thing she doesn’t do is give up. And that’s probably the best attribute in us, Indians. We are surrounded by problems left and right. But we don’t give up or admit defeat, sit at home and mope. Instead we get up every single day, fight all over again even though there is no instant outcome all for the sole reason that we have hope that one day India would be a better place. And honestly what would be the joy of achievements without a few obstacles?

Well, now that we are fighting for a better India, what exactly should we do? The governments has done its part by setting up various agencies, policies and legislations to tackle each and every issue and are continuously striving to increase its effectiveness. That all is fine and dandy! But we as an ordinary citizen of India can contribute by abiding to these laws and policies. And at the same time educating ourselves better not in schools, colleges or universities. But actually broadening our outlook, embracing and accepting the changes with time. We need to think logically before we act and not blindly follow the customs that could potentially harm other people. It’s these blind beliefs that hinder India’s progress. It’s time to wake up, remove our foggy glasses and see what is right in front of us so that we can act accordingly to make this country a better place for each and everyone to live in

This essay is submitted as a part of the LearnBox Essay Competition, 2016. The theme of the competition was “India of My Dreams!” inspired by the book by Mahatma Gandhi.

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