Despite the euphoria in the Indian media, new-found confidence of the Indian businessmen and the sense of optimism on High Street, India remains a poor country.

I am no less a patriot, trust me! I find Gordon Brown's condensing description of Britain's relationship with India as 'partnership of equals' full of colonial delusion. I feel offended when India's poverty was showcased on International Television without a reference to its ever-present dignity. I feel offended when, above all, we are lectured on the values of communal harmony by our erstwhile rulers, who spread and taught disharmony as a tool of their own commercial gain.

But, despite my pride, I dont befool myself when reality knocks - corruption, poverty, lack of meritocracy, is plain for all to see! In many cases, our development is only trailing the development of commerce in other places - call it globalization, but our place in the value chain remains low. When we give a penny, we think the beggar feels good; however, the beggar who feels really good after getting a penny loses his right to his daily meal.

So, what would make our country really go places? Well, we have a precedence - the crisis in early 1990 was not that bad, and it helped us learn valuable lessons. Foremost of all, our economy is sluggish because of the BABU-FAT that we accumulated over the ages. Babus of all kinds - IAS to the lowly creamatorium attendant - have extracted a high extortion price from our country. In the true tradition of the company raj, they milked the chair they sat in, for their own good.

Nehru is my hero, but this is his gift to India. The founding fathers of the republic allowed a stress-free transition by keeping the civil service, the same agents who ruled India for the gain of their colonial masters and themselves. There was no real pain in the journey to the independence; but not much of an independence too, therefore.

It is time now, though. For all the optimism, it is time to get working and shed our babu-fat. We need to cut the presence, weightage, and the importance of Babu-s in our lives. Nowhere else Mao and his slogan of 'bombard the headquarters' was more relevant. Time for a new independence day, indeed!


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