Whither India

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The title of the article declared ‘India-the emerging superpower’. I went through the article with enough appetite to devour the details therein. The author cited the instances of our second largest population in the world, growth of IT technology, advancement in nuclear know-how, heavy brain drain, and defense capability qualified India as a Super-power.

I wish these facts given in the piece of writing were true. My nostalgia takes me back to the days when I was studying in the school. We had a very talkative, but good teacher. We called him ‘Mukurjee Sir’; the word ‘Sir’ meaning teacher was combined with his surname. He was a good teacher in English. While explaining us an essay, he narrated one incident that was reported in one of the leading English weekly in India-‘The Sunday’. The magazine had printed a true incident that one group of Indians from our department of Education had gone to then very powerful Russia to study the methods of teaching being adopted there to develop education. The group had visited a school and posed a question to the students. The head of the group asked that if a milk man milks five liters of milk from the cow and mixes three liters of water with that what would be sum when it is sold for five rupees per liter. The group had waited with bated breath that the answer would come within a fraction of second, but the students remained merged in an animated discussion without an answer. The group from our country requested the Russian escort and interpreter to go and ask the pupils as to what they were talking about. The escort told the group that children were surprised and asking that how the government of our country spared people who dared to mix water with milk. How milk could give the same vitamin and protein if water was mixed with that?

Well the educationists from our land were visibly embarrassed when they heard about this. Such a quotation by our pedagogue served us with many other examples when we grew up.

One well-settled young business man who owns a small scale manufacturing unit of spices used to narrate of another instance of similar mixing with all the items of spices necessary for cooking.  Spices, ghee, milk-powder are the examples of wide range of food items by reputed manufacturing companies in India and incredibly the same items are duplicated in the same  kind of  packing by underground manufacturers and sold in the market and consumers have hardly a chance to know about it. The food items given therein are adulterated and very harmful towards the health of everybody.

Just take a pack of playing cards and write on each of them the name of one city from India. Every small and big one has a street which is lined with shops selling motor spare parts. Please visit a shop and enquire about a specific motor spare part. The shopkeeper shall tell you prices of two types of product of one spare –part by one company. The first type is original and the second is duplicate .How a company can manufacture the same product under original and duplicate categories?

The shop keeper explains the original shall last for three years and the duplicate for one year at best. Well the original and duplicate are identical twins and the shopkeeper is the only mother who can identify them. For you and me it is impossible.

Are the duplicates manufactured by the same multinationals?

“No, Sir, there are parties in Delhi, Kanpur, Agra who manufacture and supply those. There are customers who have to buy because they can not afford the original”-the bearded and turbaned shop owner explains.

We have rechristened the ‘duplicate’ of everything as ‘the poor country cousin’ of the original. The difference is original has to be more costly, else everything is same. A group of three young service engineers from one company had gone to install a photo-copier machine in an American professor’s residence who was in India to execute some tasks by his office. The technocrats were surprised to see that any photo-copy produced from the original was stamped by the lady secretary in the professor’s office as ‘photo-copy’. Else where in India a photocopy never bears its own identification. There is no law regulating that. With the arrival of color photo-copy, producing the poor country cousins becomes easier. That also facilitates all the hanky-panky being done at various levels.

A spin-off to above instance is I met a boy who was working as a freelance interior decorator of the stalls in the exhibitions. The boy was a workaholic and a good student. I was flabbergasted to see his story on television when he was apprehended by the Police while selling fake educational certificates. As far as my knowledge goes he had a printing press, but while the desktop publishing and scanner emerged he grabbed the unique idea of printing duplicates of certificates. He would collect the original of educational certificates under various pretexts from his known people just to retain the serial numbers mentioned therein. He started making duplicate certificates and made faster bucks forgetting his own brilliance as an interior decorator.

Another related example is the fake currency which has become headache for our Reserve Bank of India. The omnipresent notes carrying five hundred and one thousand denominations carry the maximum chances of being fakes or duplicates .One has no exercise utmost caution while accepting those. He has to keep on bothering that anytime he can be taken for a ride by accepting one or two of these fake currencies.

The last two or three decades in India have seen highest number of scams. If a post mortem of such a scam is carried out one will find that it is remaking of the fake from something original, which is the other name of scam. Few years back ‘the stamp paper scam’ which shook our entire nation was the reprinting of imitation of important legal stamp papers and the racket ran into thousands of millions of rupees.

We have lost interest in reading about the scams which surface from our public life at regular intervals. Most of them are just reproduction of fake from the original.

If one scans through almost all the items available in Indian market he will find that every other thing has its ‘poor country cousin’. A heist becomes a scam only when the sums involved are bigger. A scam involves a minimum of one hundred million of rupees .I hope our public memory is not strong enough to protect these under its folds and soon it passes in to oblivion.

Shall the above qualify India as a superpower? Well if it does then I will be proud of the fact that I have not gone to none of those nations which are already superpowers.

Srikanta Mohanty,
HIG-1/60, Kapila Prasad BDA colony,



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