INDIA OF MY DREAMS

In the India of reality the only happy creatures one notices are the birds. We see sick men everywhere, sick cows, thin, emaciated dogs, goats and horses. But the birds are sleek; they are always happily chirping and wearing a satisfied look. They hover above the head, squint their eyes in fun and merriment hop on the walls and when they find something edible, drop on it like a stone. The birds can feed on garbage; and India, the real India around us, provides a lot of it.

But we get tired of this tiring reality, and seek shelter in the warm comfort of happy dreams. Instantly the picture changes. Chaos falls into pattern and becomes a cosmos. Instead of the everyday sight of young Indians mooching about vacantly in the streets, in and around offices, or college buildings, empty handed and distracted, we see a nation of upright and energetic men and women, well fed and clean-dressed, going about their tasks with an air of determination and purpose.

We look at the wide fields and find every inch of it watered and brought under cultivation. The Indian houses are well lighted, with an abundance of vegetation around them. The Indian schools and colleges look like sanctuaries of peace, learning, cheerfulness and humble-confidence. The factories are all modern; the roads are all smooth; the buses run to time with every bit of mechanism functioning properly.

In the India of my dreams, the religious and political rivalries have ended. Indians feel proud of their identity as Indians, not as members of a particular party or religion or sect or province. Democracy based on individual rights has guaranteed dignity and education to every one; and socialism of a very loose kind has guaranteed the basic necessities to every individual. Men and women enjoy equal status and oppurtunity. Children are looked upon as national property, and old people are carefully looked after by the state. Red tapes have vanished. Officials are polite, honest and efficient. Politicians talk less and talk sense-and do not deliberately lie. And hospitals do care for human health and comfort. And animals - we must not forget those speechless neighbours - are well fed, healthy and well groomed. They look satisfied in a country where everything is satisfactory, peaceful and bright.

Where is gone that dark despair of the youth kicking at their own shadow on the pavement and cursing themselves for the accident of their birth in this country of no hope? Where are those children whose childhood had been stolen from them - who were forcibly made to study when they yearned for green fields to play on or to engage themselves in some creative pastime? What is most interesting in this dream of new India is the liberation of energy and hope, of imagination and intelligence. Domestic tyranny has ended, and elderly people have been freed too from the necessity of wearing the mask of hypocrisy. The Indian mind has been freed from slavery to customs, from the ever present consciousness of inferiority, especially in comparison with the people of more advanced countries. They respect themselves and respect others, and are ready to take on the world on their own terms.

The dream ends, and I faintly remember a line of W.B.Yeats 'In dreams Begin responsibilities. 'The dream that I have been dreaming , that every Indian has been dreaming can be made the reality only when we all share the responsibility of bringing it about.

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