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India, that isn't Bharat!

The framers of our constitution were not unanimous in their choice of name for our great nation. However, ingenuity prevailed and “India, that is Bharat” was adopted as the name of the country in the 1st article of the constitution of India. What was then innocuous and nonchalant limited to the traditional-modern divide has today become a deep fissure, a fault line. India is no more a Bharat. India and Bharat are two separate entities varying across space and time.

One just needs to travel a few kilometres outside our metropolitans into the hinterland to witness Bharat. One can witness anything and everything from prehistoric times to the 21st century modern times. Who says time travel is a myth or an enigma?! There still are places where people live in caves, depend upon hunting and gathering for their existence. Where agriculture and settled life is still unknown. Industrialisation and urbanisation are a distant dream. However, it is just one extreme of the spectrum, all other variations leading to a typical urban capitalist way of life can be found in Bharat.

Initially, the India-Bharat differentiation concerned only the nomenclature. However, as things progressed India raced ahead while Bharat stagnated. A huge chasm today exists between our villages, our hinterland, our jungles and our cities. The differences in nomenclature have widened to include cultural, social, geographical, political, economical, technological, ethical factors. In sum, there are at extremities, two contrasting ways of life with a plethora of variations in between.

The reasons for the same are unbalanced growth and development and socio-political neglect and apathy. The impacts are manifested in the form of lack of education which causes illiteracy, lack of healthcare which causes increased morbidity and mortality and lack of technological innovation which causes a stagnating economy. Inequality, discrimination, hate, crime, patriarchy, casteism, bonded-labour etc are vestiges of this neglect and ignorance. The socio-economic indicators of Bharat are worse than war-torn middle-east or Sahel region of underdeveloped Africa.

This, by no means, concludes that India is well-off on its own. How can it be? When the two entities are so intricately intertwined, how can the destiny of one be divorced from the other’s? If Bharat has stagnated, it also pulls down India. Though our urban centres have developed, they have their fair share of flaws. Increased slums, garbage, congestion, pollution, in-sanitation, exploitation and crime mark our cities.

India-Bharat is the proverbial dichotomy of rich-poor, educated-illiterate, English speaking elite-vernacular speaking plebeians, privileged-masses, urban-rural settled-migrants et al. It is the apt description of an island of prosperity (India) in the sea of poverty, ignorance, disease and neglect (Bharat).

India is the land of billion-plus opportunities and potentiality. However, it will remain a land of unrealised potential, if Bharat doesn’t develop. India is set to commence a phase of demographic transition where its working-age population will outnumber its dependent population. This demographic dividend will last till 2055 and is set to peak in 2041. However, if the India-Bharat chasm is not narrowed the demographic dividend may well turn out to be a demographic disaster.

Today we need self-reliant villages. A prospering village economy. We need to develop tier-2 and tier-3 cities and towns to reduce pressure on our metropolitan cities. Village panchayats and urban local bodies need to be strengthened. Democracy needs to be decentralised not only in letter but in spirit. There needs to be given special attention to our Adivasi brothers and sisters. Education and healthcare are the two blocks which need increased impetus and fillip. Equitable and sustainable growth and development is the only way out. The aspirational district programme is a step in the right direction.

The problems which Bharat faces today are not qualitatively different from what India faced in 1947. India now needs to pull up her estranged partner Bharat if she has to emerge as the global power it aspires to be. The next decade is crucial, we must put all our energies to uplift Bharat. India and Bharat are the two balancing wheels of our common and shared culture. One without the other is lame, blind and incomplete. To herald an Indian century, both the wheels need run in consonance, rhythm and symmetry.

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