Renewal on August 15

Continuity is the last thing the average Indian wants because continuity means his children have no hope.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Updated: August 10, 2014 1:09 am
Prime Minister, know that these officials lie when they tell you that all is well in India. Prime Minister, know that these officials lie when they tell you that all is well in India.

This August 15, for the first time in years, a real leader with a real mandate will speak to us from the ramparts of the Red Fort. When Narendra Modi stands up to make his Independence Day address from those historic ramparts, let him remember that he won a full majority because he promised change. Not continuity. Many in his circle of advisors will advise continuity. They will urge him to read from a written text. They will advise him to read out a meaningless balance sheet of supposed political and economic achievements that only those who write such speeches know of.

Please remember, Prime Minister, that the officials who write these speeches have no idea how desperate Indians are for real change. They are written by people who constitute that small group of privileged Indians who have no idea of the everyday horrors of being an average Indian. They are people who have safe jobs, fine homes with running water and electricity, and their privileged progeny go to fine schools. They have no idea what it is to be an ordinary Indian, but you do because for most of your life you were an ordinary Indian. This is why during the campaign you touched so many hearts with your words.

You, Prime Minister, know that these officials lie when they tell you that all is well in India. All is well only in their India. It is not well at all in the India in which most Indians live. Most of India’s citizens live without essential public services. Those who have jobs and live in urban India struggle to get to work on crowded trains and buses that travel through cities and towns that have become vast shanties. Those forced by poverty to rely on state schools struggle to find a school that will teach their children to at least count and read. If they have a roof that they call their own, it is usually atop a one-room tenement.

Those who live in rural India live without that most fundamental of human needs: clean drinking water. They also often live without electricity, sanitation or municipal services. They struggle to find jobs to supplement their meagre income from marginal farming. And, because of filthy living conditions, far too many children die of preventable diseases long before they get to school.

On her 67th birthday as a modern nation, India is a mess. Half her children are officially malnourished. More than 600 million Indians live without basic sanitation. Most Indians struggle all their lives just to own a home they can call their own. Most Indian children leave school without being able to read a story. Every year, 15 million young Indians come into the job market in search of jobs that the government can no longer create. So when we speak of continuity, as many ministers have already started doing, then this is the continuity we speak of.

Continuity is the last thing the average Indian wants because continuity means his children have no hope. They will continue to live in squalour and eke out an existence on jobs that pay them only enough to keep them from destitution. They will continue to live in an India that offers so little to her citizens that they flee to foreign shores even if it means living as our nurses did in Iraq with a threat to their very existence hanging over them.

This year we have a Prime Minister who cannot be blamed for any of this. So he has no reason to lie about India’s ‘achievements’. He is not to blame for policies that in the name of the poor have kept the poor in hopeless poverty for decades. He is not to blame for India’s broken healthcare system, her useless state schools, her squalid cities and filthy villages. He is not to blame for our sacred rivers having become sewers. Or for agricultural policies that in the name of helping our poorest farmers keep them mired in poverty and allow millions of tonnes of food grain to rot in the rain.

So instead of lying about the past, let the Prime Minister tell us what his government will do to make India a better country. Let him revive the dream of renewal and change that won him the election. While he has been busy in foreign lands, his ministers have shown us that they do not understand what needs to change. Most seem to be in the toils of cunning officials who advise continuity, and ministers inexperienced in the ways of government and the wiles of high officials believe them. On August 15, the Prime Minister needs to reassure us that the dream of ‘parivartan’ was not a false dream. He could be making the most important speech he has ever made.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

  1. S
    SJ Singh
    Aug 10, 2014 at 4:13 am
    Well said, Tavleen! Your views are spot on, as usual. I hope some one out there takes note of it. Keep coming!!
    Reply
    1. A
      AN
      Aug 10, 2014 at 4:04 am
      Superb article. I hope the PM reads it and understands what ordinary Indians want in their lives. You are a rare journalist who really understands what is wrong in our country. Keep up the good work ma'am. I am one of your lifelong admirers.
      Reply
      1. B
        B.D.SINGH
        Aug 10, 2014 at 9:31 am
        Hrart of Modi Govt. is on right place. But it seems that they afraid of speed of reforms and hence working too cautiously.
        Reply
        1. C
          C.
          Aug 11, 2014 at 12:32 am
          Sad. She does not understand. The primary duty of a government is continuity which ensures stability. Otherwise there will be chaos.
          Reply
          1. K
            Krishnan E
            Aug 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm
            Excellent article. It is interesting and thought provoking. Keep writing Tavleen Singh as I wait for Sunday morning to read your article.
            Reply
            1. K
              Krishnan E
              Aug 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm
              Excellent article. It is very interesting and thought provoking. I wait for every Sunday morning to read Tavleen Singh,s article.
              Reply
              1. G
                Gopal
                Aug 10, 2014 at 2:29 am
                Brilliant article, Tavleen Singh. I am sure Prime Minister Modi will not disappoint in his 15 August message. He understands the problems and will solve them during his first term. We need to be patient. Also, we need journalists like you to keep reminding the government
                Reply
                1. M
                  my india
                  Aug 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm
                  Swach bharat shresht bharat campaign is worth it ... more tha nany India shinig or Bharat Nirman....
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    kvl
                    Aug 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm
                    Ms, Tavleen sings words that " all is well in India" by officials is pertaining to them only not for all indians,because government ries are increased leaps and bounds.result the next moment- is the increase of high rates of essential commodities which the common man other than ried cannot afford.To please the officials ,government raise the pay before elections particularly,unconcerned about the man on the street or layman. how can he withstand the inflation endlessly? very difficult for a poor family who has no property or regular job with these ever ending price rise. So Modi must put an end to this luxury life of some ( VIPS) and poverty of most.
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      ashok
                      Aug 10, 2014 at 8:48 am
                      Wonderful column. My vote for Ms. Tavleen Singh as Media Advisor to the PM !
                      Reply
                      1. M
                        Mahen
                        Aug 10, 2014 at 9:07 am
                        Wonderful article-simple facts! Yes 60 years of FAKE Ghandhis has left this mighty country in a mess!
                        Reply
                        1. M
                          milind
                          Aug 12, 2014 at 7:58 am
                          Thank you Tavleen ! This is real India for you, urban India that lives in one room apartment and travels a couple of hours each day for work. The rural India is no better, hours of no electricity and basic amenities completely missing !We look forward to our PM to speak about real India and not do any lip service.
                          Reply
                          1. N
                            Narayan AK
                            Aug 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm
                            Are you kidding me? So you expect Modiji to clean our filthy villages and squalid cities? Unless the people of India get their act together, even God cannot give respite. Your article should address the common man. Let each one of us take care of our surroundings and there will NO more filthy villages and squalid cities. Tavleen, do you know what our bane is? Dependence on the "mai-baap sarkar".
                            Reply
                            1. O
                              Onkar Sharma
                              Aug 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm
                              I am also one of your ardent admirers,Tavleen. You hit the nail on the head. Keep hitting.Jai Hind.
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                Ram
                                Aug 10, 2014 at 9:09 am
                                I hope the PM reads this and not listen to his advisors the modern day Brahmins of the civil services.
                                Reply
                                1. R
                                  RAVI K
                                  Aug 11, 2014 at 6:54 am
                                  HATS OFF MADAM,ONE OF THE BEST ARTICLES I RED IN THE RECENT PAST.AGREED MR MODI MUST BE FEELING THE SAME.BUT IF HE AND HIS MINISTERS BECOME THE SHEEPS AND FOLLOW THE CUNNING BUROCRACY THEN THIS IS THE END.HOPE MR MODI AND MR JAITLEY RED THIS ARTICLE.
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    Shirish
                                    Aug 11, 2014 at 10:52 am
                                    Hope all those in power read and understand what Tavleen has written. There is no system to check performance of these officials (Collectors, SPs, and above). Why do they enjoy so many perks & extra income while aam janata is suffering? New govt needs to follow simple policy "show the progress or you are out" to change their mind set.
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Sneha Sheela
                                      Aug 10, 2014 at 11:54 am
                                      Two words "Well Said" ..must happen now NaMo should read this or someone should send him..or Tavleen Ji, please send this to NaMo.....it's your service to the nation...NaMo will take a note...again Tavleen, two words for you "Thank you"
                                      Reply
                                      1. V
                                        Vamsi Somanchi
                                        Aug 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm
                                        Absolutely right essment - both of the ground reality as well as the frustrated expectations of people
                                        Reply
                                        1. V
                                          Venki
                                          Aug 11, 2014 at 6:28 pm
                                          Tavleen jee, like you we millions are waiting for this one speech from Manmohan's Gujarati avatar .... Modi and his team has fooled we Indians royally, I think they spoke with out any clue ... they seem to be clueless and have no great ideas too ... the silence and un communicative Modi is more horrible ... doing everything that UPA did and ridding the wave is the easiest option fro them ... yes NDA is equally corrupt, equally criminal and equally not interested in India or Indians. They also want votes and power only ... I was a very strong supporter of Modi before I'm loosing hope ...
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            Vikram
                                            Aug 11, 2014 at 4:45 am
                                            Excellent article. I hope Mr. Modi is listening. But it's wrong on our part to ume that Mr. Modi will fix everything for us. Take for example littering. Our cities, towns and villages are filthy because we treat all open public spaces including roads as garbage dumps. The w country is one big spittoon. We treat our politicians like Rajas and maharaja, a relic of our colonial and pre colonial past. Unless we change our mindset how will our country change for the better?
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments