Dear Punjab’s political sirs
I know you are healthy and wealthy. So without wasting many words, I wish to draw your immediate attention towards Punjab’s fitness. I am sure you are aware that Punjab of today can barely crawl. From a state that always led from the front, it unfortunately has been reduced to a point where calling oneself a Punjabi has become a bit of an embarrassment. Khushwant Singh writeschandigarh Updated: Aug 12, 2013 16:57 IST
I know you are healthy and wealthy. So without wasting many words, I wish to draw your immediate attention towards Punjab’s fitness. I am sure you are aware that Punjab of today can barely crawl. From a state that always led from the front, it unfortunately has been reduced to a point where calling oneself a Punjabi has become a bit of an embarrassment.
So, how did all this happen? Who is vastly responsible for it? Aliens, gods, UFOs or us?
Sirs, pardon my gustakhi if I pronounce that the blame for the current situation lies with your class. To you all was handed the task of taking this state to new glories. In you, is vested the power to shape the state’s destiny in any manner. And look what you did with that mandate. Drove your own state to shambles to fulfil your political lust.
You fashioned a state, which, from being at the top, plummeted to a land where very few now want to even tread. In fact, the ones who reside here also want to migrate. And this phoren bug is not limited to the unskilled or the peasant — as smitten by it is also the wealthy layer, which sees very less hope for its next generation and feels insecure investing further in the state. Every household, which has the means, is deliberating on how to create an alternative for their children abroad.
Yes, political sirs, this is the hard reality and I am being no cynic.
Just as a favour, shut your eyes and look around. Can you spot even one good government hospital which can be called world class; a school which provides top class education; a city which you can call clean; a justice system which you can term fair; a police that can be termed responsive; a bureaucracy that is robust and vibrant; a department which is without corruption; an entrepreneurship which is intellect-driven; an environment that is pollution free; an agriculture that is sustainable and profitable; and most importantly, a face that is beaming and without anger? None, whatsoever.
Now, let me show you what a normal Punjabi sees when he shuts his eyes. He sees images of youth loitering around aimlessly on motorcycles; youth rubbing cannabis between their palms; a society split on religion, caste and class; bandhs and communal protests; religious institutions littering the roads for langars and jagratas; politicians abusing power; no power for agriculture and industry, only power struggle; chaotic traffic with bus drivers terrorising people with pressure horns etc, etc.
My dear sirs, the point that I am trying to make is that the politicos have failed to build a prosperous and vibrant Punjab. You, for your political considerations, have chosen to keep Punjab in the dark ages, in spite of the 21st century being 13 years old.
Correct me if I am wrong — when I say that when the political discourse of the state is limited to whether the chief minister’s photo should be on an ambulance or not, what is left to expect from the political class. When ministers seek publicity for a water cooler that they might have donated, you know the kind of calibre that is floating around. What inspiration and motivation can such parochial thought bring to the youth? Kakh nahi.
Which leader amongst you stands committed for development in the real sense of it? Please don’t give me the list of foundation stones as a corollary. Development is an environment and not merely a dictionary word. Development ushers where education flourishes. Flowers of progress blossom in the land where its stakeholders invest in the land’s intellectual wealth by creating institutes of excellence research and development.
Growth does not come with ribbon-cutting exercises, foundation stone laying ceremonies or gathering people in huge numbers to listen to your voice. It comes to the land that attracts and welcomes the best minds as well as offers the locals the best infrastructure and safe environment.
Sirs, I am not an academician, so I cannot lace my observations with statistics. However, correct me if whatever I have said is wrong. Ask your inner voice once — did you betray Punjab for petty gains? If it says yes, you’ve had it, as history characteristically spares none. In
bold letters it will be advertised, when Punjab was squandered by its very own.
The columnist is a Punjab-based author and journalist.