FIFTY YEARS ON… by Maya Chandrasekaran

It’s getting closer and closer to August 15th, and the nation is getting all geared up for a massive celebration, but, what I wonder is - with a country so full of talented, intelligent people, why haven’t we come much farther in 50 years. Oh well, in my expert(!!) opinion, here are some of the reasons (they are in random order, and in no particular order of importance):

Spitting: The story goes that there was a government office which had cabinets against the walls at regular intervals of one foot. After many years, they suddenly decided to repaint the room, and so they moved all the cabinets out, only to find to their surprise, that they had striped walls - one stripe of white, where the cabinet used to be, and one red stripe, where the wall was unprotected from close range, medium range, and just random range spitters, looking to improve their aim. I mean really, will anyone take us seriously as a nation if we continue to chew like cows, and take aim at the nearest sidewalk?

Manners :And our manners could do with some improvement, too. I don’t mean the Emily Post etiquette variety, I mean the simple, everyday courtesies of life. Let me narrate to you a dialogue.

Man ringing up supplier’s employee to book cooking gas cylinder : "Hello. Good Morning."

Employee, stunned and thrown (after all, who is this weirdo who’s wishing him good morning?) :" Huh?!"

Man : "Good morning. I was wondering if you could help me?"

Employee hangs up in confusion, certain it is a crank caller or some type of sick pervert! Man’s wife grabs phone from him and dials impatiently.

Wife barks into the phone: "X Gas company? Consumer number….!"

And the employee gives a sigh of relief - finally here is someone who speaks his kind of language!

See what I mean?

We also seem to lack common sense in most things we do - like digging ditches on the roadside just during the monsoons. Or painting road dividers in the middle of rush hour traffic!

And then there are those well known politicians who refuse to resign even after they’ve been arrested. True, they might have a point - what’s the big deal, after all, most of their ministers have been, or will be in prison sooner or later, so why not just gather the whole lot there now and continue to run government.

Of course, there is always a small bunch of masochistic men who think that just because they are bureaucrats, it gives them the mandate to try and improve matters. Tut, tut, I say. How on earth would we cope if we had cleaner cities and more stringent traffic laws, for example?! We would be completely lost!

We are a democratic nation, with a constitution that says we have a government ‘by the people, for the people, and of the people’ and for some reason this has been interpreted to mean that all nine hundred million of us get a shot at being Prime Minister. That’s why we change governments every six months - to give everyone a chance, of

course! (I’m surprised you didn’t already know that.)

Anyway, I suppose it’ll be very easy for most people to read about this, shake their heads and say, "We are like that only," before forgetting about the whole thing, and that, I suppose, is the whole problem. We don’t have to be ‘like that only’, not if we don’t want to. Oh well, let’s wait and see. Maybe another fifty years down the line…