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9 March 2007

Of guns and some roses

If you watched the budget caravan feature by CNBC, the business channel, as it toured the interior and hinterlands of India, you'd have had an idea of the cities, towns and villages of India it covered on it's journey.

I saw this coverage of one town where people were cheerfully riding on scooters with rifles slung over their shoulders in choc- a- bloc traffic in full view of the camera. I rubbed my eyes so I am sure I did not imagine or dream it.

Is it only a question of time before gun toting becomes a routine sight in any Indian town or city? If yes, then we all have to seriously fear the future. Maybe that is why industry is realising and pressurising the government and FM 60 years after independence to invest more in social sectors such as education and health. Is there no law against owning and carrying arms in public ? and more relevantly, an enforcement of the law. How and why do two India's exist and that too when it is shown on national television (so no one can pretend that the other India that is not shining does not exist). Villages, cities and towns untouched by development and progress and basic amenities of water, power and education even as they are bordered by National Highways on which latest models of vehicles zoom past.

The bright spots were the villages where NABARD is financing small farmers to do projects such as bee keeping and other micro projects thereby bringing some relief of extra income to their lives.

In certain places, the budget caravan reminded me of the wild west movies with scenes from a fistful of dollar- heat and dust with the stark beauty of the country in the background. No sheriff, but many guns.

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