Where Did We Go Wrong? (Special Independence Feature)

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As custodians of the oldest civilisation known to mankind, looking around at the present state of affairs often makes me wonder – is this what our rishis had predicted and our freedom fighters fought for? The 66th Independence Day seems like a perfect time to retrospect in silence, on the mistakes we have made as a nation – as citizens who allowed such things to happen and partook in it. Time and again you would read about India’s resilience in the eye of problems, our attitude to move on with life. We move on with our lives after a terrorist attack, in the face of natural calamities, due to man-made greed, we move on when we see calves being hit by a car or a woman being raped…we just move on. Is this a sign of resilience or a sign of our weakness, our selfishness, not being able to see beyond ourselves?

All that we see around us – the rapes, thefts and murders are not the problems. They are the consequences of bringing up a generation that has been imparted no sense of morality, integrity, ethics or values. We are a generation that has been raised by a generation that entirely ruined the creation with all the white and green revolutions to satisfy their own needs. That was selfishness. And so is this. They wanted milk; they injected cows to increase milk capacity. They wanted food; they genetically modified seeds and sprayed them with fertilisers. Now, they want money, they loot. They want physical gratification, they rape. And unless we start teaching the next generation to give, to contribute towards creation, this will just increase. And if it doesn’t bother you because it hasn’t happened to you yet… just wait and watch. The noose is tightening.

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Here is how the seemingly important scientific discoveries have changed the very human nature, modifying them into something that was unheard of.

(I)  WHITE REVOLUTION

White revolution is followed by a bloody legacy; a legacy where the very source of this revolution, that is the ‘cow’, is endangered. The once worshipped cows are now artificially impregnated for milk, while their young calves are deprived of their mother’s milk. Once milched beyond commercial needs, cows are either left on the road or sold to slaughter houses. The demand for milk has not gone down, but the supply has. As a result, a new policy to import Jersey cows has been regulated by the government, completely forgetting the fact that they are not suited to Indian climates, are expensive to breed, expensive to feed (making them a burden on the farmer). Various scientific researches have proven that the milk from the desi cow is way more nutritious than that of Jersey cows. Since we have failed to preserve our cows and the ‘Imported’ ones are not suited to our conditions, India would very soon need to import milk.

Interlinked to this neglect is the increase in cow slaughter. Beef eating seems to be the new definition of “secularism”. India has witnessed a 44% increase in meat export in the last 4 years alone. Needless to say, the best quality is exported and the unhygienic is kept for domestic use. And yet the selfishness is such that the cattle smugglers are actually stealing the cattle right off the streets, not from nay far off town but metros like Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, you name it. The same cows that feed on plastic filled gutters make their way to your plate. While the Indian media at all times tries to look away from this “communal” issue, the international media has not been shy from highlighting its true face. Lack of government planning and apathy towards the issue of cows has been such that today the Indian cows altogether may get extinct.

Cows hold the potential to sustain the entire economy by contributing towards agriculture sector, transport sector and most of all by providing nutrition to our children. But then, who’s listening?

(II)  EDUCATION SYSTEM

India once took pride in imparting of gyan through a strict Guru-shishya parampara – where students during their formative years would live with the Guru and the Guru would have the responsibility not only to impart academic knowledge, but also to make them well-versed with the vedic philosophy and scriptures, life skills and basic principles that would aid the students for the rest of their lives. Our Gurus were world renowned historians, and travellers would travel half the world to study here; Nalanda University being the epitome of one such place which not very long ago attracted students from far and wide. While our earlier education system propagated learning the Vedas and the Shastras, producing individuals with strong character; with the advent of the British our education system was turned around to suit their needs to produce clerks.

Today, our history books teach us the British interpretation of our texts which have been misrepresented for their own benefit. What we forget is that a man with a flute in his hand would never mean Krishna to the uninitiated. So what we did was teach our children about a man with a flute with many girls around and forgot about the energy that was Krishna. This is just an example; in reality, our culture has been distorted beyond repair for our youth, as is evident in their shunning of everything Indian and embracing everything that’s western.

As if this was not enough, we have our political parties that keep twisting the textbooks to ensure that enough is written about their leaders. So in one term Bhagat Singh becomes a terrorist, in another, BR Ambedkar becomes a cartoon. The policy makers forget that they are playing with very impressionable minds who hold the country’s future in their hand.

(III)  GREEN REVOLUTION

The country might pride itself of being self-sufficient in terms of food production but what we are feeding our population is poison. In order to produce more, we chose to depend on GM seeds that do not re-germinate on their own, adding to the financial burdens of the farmers. Cost of seeds, expensive chemicals and machinery associated with the revolution, like the tractor, harvester etc. were what lead to mass suicides you may have heard of in the news recently.

If this wasn’t life-wrecking enough, the poison from the indiscriminate use of pesticides, fertilizers, not only poisons the crops but also the underground water table. These harmful chemicals thus enter into our food cycle and into our bodies. After a certain time the crops become immune to the fertilizers and pesticides, and even stronger doses are then administered. It is a never ending cycle.

Besides this, the green revolution created havoc in the environment causing land degradation caused by water logging, salinization of the soil, desertification and water scarcity, destroying water resources, destruction of soil fertility, micro-nutrient deficiency, soil toxicity by high use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and biomass reduction used for fodder and organic manure. On a larger scale, it contributes to the greenhouse effect depleting the ozone layer, pesticide contamination of soil, water and animals, and genetic erosion of crops.

The curse of the GM seeds looms over us. The suicides of farmers in Maharashtra, Kolkata should have come as a wakeup call. However, the stakes involved for introducing GM seeds, fruits and vegetables in India are high and the pocket of the seed companies are deep which may have resulted in some greedy governments to sell out at the cost of many lives. The study of the New York University of Law shows that in 2009 alone, 17,638 of farmers committed suicide. While the western countries pressure groups have ensured that their governments take an anti-GM stand and keep poison out of their food chains by retaining heirloom seeds, we have been unable to do so.

(IV)  OVER-MEDICALIZATION

Medicine was meant to relieve us of our physical ailments. Today, these are the very reasons that are killing us slowly but surely. According to Ayurveda, a physical ailment is only a symptom; the root of the ailment lies elsewhere. The off-the-shelf medicines that we run to are definitely not a solution. Today, there is a medicine for everything – to make you sleep, to keep you alert, to improve your sexual power, to cure your sex power – and yet the illnesses and the visits to doctors have only increased.

Medicine is today an industry, a profession like any other; when doctors have targets to meet and are merely acting as pill pushers, there is nothing noble in the profession any more. According to a recent research, our bodies are now immune to antibiotics. While they may claim to cure certain viruses, the truth is that today the antibiotics have given rise to Superbugs – viruses for which there is no cure. The polio drive that our government takes prides in has done more harm than good for our children. There are increasing cases of death due to infections acquired in hospitals itself, which even the hospital cannot cure. So is it time for our doctors and governments to give back the kickbacks that they have received from the powerful pharmaceutical companies and take measures to revert back to our traditional methods?

(V)  DEPLETING FOREST COVER AND DISAPPEARING RIVERS

The Golden Bird that was Indian has attracted many invaders looking for riches – our limitless resources, our spices, our raw materials, the gold, the silver, and the precious stones – all part of our creation. While till about 200 years it was only the outsiders that looted, today the enemy is within. According to the Forest Survey of India report, the forest cover in 2011 has declined by 367 sq. kms compared to the forest cover as mentioned in their last report in 2009.

We may boast of our “developments” over the years, but the housing projects, hydel projects, dams, infrastructures have spelled doom leading to deforestation, soil erosion and drying up of rivers. All this has further lead to bringing about an imbalance in the creation by taking away the natural habitat from our wild animals forcing them to enter cities. So the cheetah that found its way in a Mumbai flat is not dangerous, it is us the human beings that are the most dangerous of all animals. In our greed to develop in line with western countries, earning foreign exchange and selling out to industrialists, we have created what may be irrevocable damage.

The recent Kedarnath calamity is only a warning by the Divine to not take this creation for granted. According to our Vedas, the shrinking of the Ganga would be an indicator that the world is coming to an end. A plan has recently been passed for the Ganga to be diverted into tunnels from its very source to feed various hydro projects. If polluting of the Ganga by letting all the industrial pollutants flow into it did not kill it, this certainly would. What would further kill it is the apathy towards the issue by us citizens.

These mistakes enlisted are only a tip of the iceberg, the list is endless. It is needless to waste paper on it, but do not assume it to be a waste of time to think about them and act on them. Someone needs to do something about these issues and it starts with you.

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