The usual brouhaha over development is not the concern with this article. Neither is a Modi vs Congress debate. The concern of this article is a question – Why does the Indian populace resist development? The bullet train is just one of the many issues that pops up through this rather intriguing question.
Changes reflected in the system are often implemented with some amount of public support. The changes that are implemented with ease have a characteristic of appealing to some public emotion or the other. On the contrary, changes which in fact might bring a certain change in the development pace of the country are outright questioned in such manner that it seems that we, as this nation’s citizens are hypocrites. Wanting change but not wanting it to be sudden. Wanting development but not quite of that magnitude. Wanting monetary implications for ourselves, but not wanting the tax money to be used for those purposes. After all, the government is spending our money, therefore our opinion must count.
Except, this herd mentality is causing some political drift that is caught on by trollers and media-houses alike. With behaviour that can most aptly be categorized as Neo-Luddism, India’s political sects ramble over the project’s need. A popular state party was quick to say that, “The Bullet train dream is not of the common man, but of the rich”.
We’d rather be happy over a win in diplomatic sparring or military operations. Things that don’t make sense to us would obviously be wrong, wouldn’t they? Except, this obtuse resistance to development is akin to protests against the funding of NASA. Or even the fear over introduction of computers in government offices or the Delhi metro, or mobile phones.
And the concern here is not even that of feasibility. There are tons of places where you could read about transport infrastructure. Thousands of studies through which our readers could ascertain the need of bullet trains for the country. The concern is that why every measure and investment into India’s future is met with doltish comparisons to other nations and requirements in other sectors.
So there is a battered road in your town or a broken faucet. Why must these issues be an obstacle to national development? We agree that education, societal developments and health are major issues to be addressed. But that shouldn’t mean that we must be limited to just the basic needs. As a nation we need to transcend the third world perception around us.
The cynics say that these projects have only a show-off value, which is a cruel joke in a country so miserably poor. But they fail reflect on the possibility of a better future for the country. Ironically, the political kicker is that this very opposition is quick to point India’s lack of development when compared to China (Oh the patriotic flair on the comparison!)
Most of those who never tire of praising China’s infrastructure should remember that China first started planning bullet trains when its income levels were far below what India’s are today.
We must remember that India was once considered to be a nation of snake-charmers. It would have been the same if it weren’t for certain development initiatives. A Nehruvian stance on limited, indigenous development can only work for so long. Resistance is in this case, is markedly futile and would only lengthen our trajectory to being a developed nation.