Hope in Bihar


India has arrived. You get to feel that in Rajendra's year-end telecon with me. And you get to feel that from the news of Babua's imminent arrival. Two things are making this happen: The computer and the mobile phone.

As we close year 2003, one in every 14? Indians is hooked on to the phone. Some 150,000 young boys and girls are chatting up all night on computer terminals, telling the rest of the world what it should do next. We've indeed come a long way baby! The PC is no longer the postcard that Rajendra once got from home, but the personal computer that promises to get Babua his job.

How did this happen? Is this a miracle?

Nothing good that's happened to us ever happened because our government planned it that way. Everything that's happening is despite our government being there. And it's happening because the nation's freed itself from the fear of living under siege, brought about by years of state-generated shortages. Call this a miracle or whatever you will. Just look at the telecom story. In 10 years flat we have graduated from being on the waiting list to getting a phone on demand, because your phonewallah believed that government rules were meant to be flouted. Call centres are mushrooming everywhere because a generation brought up on Employment News has suddenly given way to an entirely new generation that surfs the Net.

I call this a result of organised chaos. Where official apathy to development leads the nation to such a pass that its citizens first create their own aspirations and then fuel demand for the good things of life. Which is why India's much-maligned manufacturing sector has lined up Rs 50,000 crore in fresh investments for the next couple of years or so. In a real sense, it's the withering away of the state. It's the withering away of command performances that counts. Which is leading babuas out of the quagmire of Bihar, in search of a better tomorrow. Why Bihar? Because if the Bihari sees hope in India, you know that India has arrived. [...]

Dear cynics, figuring out the figures should matter less than figuring out your hope. It may be true that in a country of a billion-plus people, unemployment figures still need tackling, but ask yourself this question: Why does joblessness no longer make news, why new jobs and the choices that go with them, do? Ask yourself why, despite suffering four successive years of drought, the country still has enough to feed its people? Ask yourself this question: How, after years of being starved by an exchange control regime, is the country today sitting on a $100 billion pile?

It's because the people that make this nation have breached the wall that held their aspirations hostage for five-long decades. In a sense, it's much like the collapse of the Great Wall of Berlin, where the will of a people, not the state, ushered a nation into a new tomorrow. In that sense, 2003 has been a year that brought new hope to the people. It's broken our mental barriers down. Let's celebrate the year end just for that reason.

Tomorrow's a new beginning. And if you still doubt what I say, read this page carefully tomorrow. Cheers!

- Shubhrangshu Roy
(from a great article linked at AnarCapLib)

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sorry to be a cynic but as

sorry to be a cynic but as long as Bihar has illiterate and corrupt folks as the Chief Minister (mainly Laloo Prasad and his wife), Bihar has no hope. People's fortunes will not be protected by the government but rather seized by its thugs who pay off the politicians. Just my $0.02.