[this is a response to a message I received from a friend on the "famous"/infamous speech by the former President of India APJ Kalam:
Feb 23, 2009
I apologise for this very late reponse to your message and to Dr Kalam’s speech.
This letter or rather "lecture" by APJ Abdul Kalam may be insightful though I would certainly not agree with its assumptions and with the ideas that underline this message. Here are a couple of temporary thoughts:
1 Not everybody has the means to go to Singapore and to Tokyo and only those who have the money (and probably the education that goes with it) do. So these people would not spit "paan" in the street of Mumbai or Delhi either. So his remarks on people spitting "paan" in the streets are not appropriate because these are groups of people who mostly are from (very) different backgrounds...
2 Let me now express a very strong protest and statement: the government(s) -central and state governments- and their officials/representatives and (high) civil servants (at all levels!) have a tremendous responsibility in the current state of corruption, lack of sanitation, carelessness, lack of respect for the environment, lack of respect for the very basic human rights, the abject poverty millions of people are living in today and so on and so forth and not just in India. But sadly enough, this is also what is happening in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Before being elected, these leaders and politicians do make solemn and emotional pledges that they would work for the benefit and the welfare of India's peoples irrespective of their caste, sex, age, religion, social status and the like. Once in power, most of them (maybe not all of them) are only concerned by their own career, their own future and welfare and that of their children, families and friends. Is that fair? Obviously not...
3 Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is shamelessly turning the tables on the citizens in and outside India and that is just not fair at all. More than a year ago, I was in Delhi and was visiting the area around Rashtrapati Bhavan (presidential palaces and Indian government's offices and Parliament) not far from the National Museum I went to visit several times. Let me tell you that I was deeply and immensely shocked to discover that just a few meters from the these luxurious palaces, buildings and mansions and excessively posh official residences and offices, people were bathing in the open air in the artificial lake/tank that is nearby Rashtrpati Bhavan: the water was very muddy, very dirty and these people had no choice than wash their clothes in this pond/tank and wash themselves in the open air in full view of everyone passing by. Moreover, many of them were living around this unhealthy tank/lake in tents and makeshift/half torn small and dirty tents. I felt extremely saddened that these so brilliant-minded, highly educated (many from Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford universities and the like), prestigious doctorate awarded and internationally recognized people like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam (and all the MPS and state officials and (high) civil servants that work and/or live very close by this area) could not even see what was happening just under their noses!...
4 So why is Dr APJ Abdul Kalam talking about "remote" places like Singapore, Tokyo and the like? That is really not fair nor sincere at all and lacks sheer bona fide.
5 Another second telling example (and I could give you tons of other examples): I was on my way to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra in the Shatabdi Express from Delhi. It was early in the morning (maybe 6 am). On my way to Agra, while I was sitting by a window seat, I was IMMENSELY AND VERY PROFOUNDLY shocked to see so many people "simply" defecating on or around the railway tracks in the early hours of that morning. The train staff had just served us a hearty breakfast and I was supposed to enjoy it while "watching" all these poor/desperate men, women, children and old aged people defecate on and around the railway tracks because they obviously lacked proper private and public sanitation which is the very first responsibility/priority of the local regional and central governments and their representatives. I was awfully sick about it not because people were defecating while I was having this hearty and rich breakfast, but very sick and completely disgusted and upset that 60 years after independence, people in India had no other option than defecate in the open air and in full view of a huge number of (sometimes very educated and very powerful) people traveling in these posh trains like the costly Shatabdi Express I was in.
6 Never, ever will I forget these images and these very distressing feelings of immense disgust and shame not only on me as an Indian but also on my fellow Indian compatriots and governmental officials; nor will I ever forgive the current and the past governments and their representatives and officials (and this includes Dr APJ Abdul Kalam himself!) for their crude carelessness for NOT providing these VERY BASIC amenities to their poor and hapless fellow citizens and leaving them without any other choices than defecate in full view of people traveling in the trains.
7 And the very realistic depiction of life in slums in present-day India in the movie Slumdog Millionnaire is another testimony to this TREMENDOUS incompetence, crude carelessness, and disgusting selfishness of a very large section of the Indian elite and of the Indian leaders (at all levels and not just in politics...).
8 Let me also add that carelessness, incompetence, selfishness, and corruption of the minds is not just sadly visible in India (and Pakistan and Bangladesh), the way Indian communities and diasporas around the world are also managed and ruled is another testimony to that immense disgust I feel for the Indian elites and for Indian leaders who very often come from very (highly) educated backgrounds. More specifically, I know from very close those of us who are living in France and in the islands of the Indian Ocean. Let me underline that carelessness, incompetence, selfishness and corruption of the minds are extensively prevalent there. Are we Indians “genetically” predisposed to all this?
I hope not…
Mounir Nassor(email : email@example.com / blog : www.myindias.blogspot.com )