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Their dreams, our nightmares

Our surfer tickles the funny bone debating India's growth vis-a-vis China.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 19:53 IST

China has made a dream plan for its people for the next 50 years, which is mind-boggling. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, in its blueprint has estimated that in 2050, they plan to achieve a per capita income of $1,300 and a lifespan of 80 years for its people.

It also plans to move almost half of its rural dwellers to cities and provide them with jobs and high tech suburban homes. Their capacity to dream big dreams are only matched by actions on the ground as is seen by the miraculous transformation of Shanghai city.

I had these thoughts in mind when I ran in to the spokesperson of our Planning Commission near the Yojana Bhavan in New Delhi. Here was a chance for me to get updated about India's dreams! I invited him to the UNI canteen and as we sat for Upma-Kesri bath, I asked about our plans.

'What you say about China may be true. Here, we have to be realistic! Our Leftist union will 'gherao' the foreman of Honda factory and will not let him to go to the toilet for 72 hours, if there is less sugar in the morning tea the workers have after they punch in. Even if we line our airports with marble and chrome and polish it to an international showcase, our airport jamadarnis will not remove the garbage and clean the stinking toilets till their union under Karats agree on the Diwali bonus.'

'What about power generation?'

'It is problem, but, we are at it. We have already approved a candle factory in Dabhol. This will make 1 million candles a day and by third year we even plan to export. In addition, we will also scale up one of our navratnas to make diyas. We will scout for a good technical collaborator for these projects once the UPA Government gets 'NOC' from its Left partner."

'What about plans for rural India?'

'If the weather gods smile at us, we hope to grow enough paddy and wheat so that the rate of suicide among farmers comes down to reasonable limits this year.'

'I thought we had already decided to go in for interlinking of rivers, desalination even if the rains fail.'

'Interlinking river waters has huge potential, but every time we raise this topic between chief ministers, the meeting ends with them coming to blows! No state will allow its river to be touched by a foreigner... er, its neighbour! The garland of rivers is quite a thorny issue. Desalination will take another 100 years before the prototype developed by our national labs can be put to any real use.'

'What about infrastructure? Shanghai already has over half a dozen ring roads and most of the cities in China would have 4-lane roads encircling them.'

'We too will focus on ring roads once we get rid of the potholes which has somehow mushroomed in highways all over the country. Our scientists are working on solution for getting rid of potholes by harnessing rocket science, nano technology and stem cells. It will be a matter of time before our scientists train our PWDs, contractors and masons to eliminate potholes forever. But here again the real problem is, the Left might rap us accusing us being pro-US!'

'All these look like nightmares to me. Where's the big dream which our President exhorts us to dream every now and then?'

'That will come. First we have to get rid of the nightmares of interference from the Left every second day.'

'How come China, a Communist nation is progressing so well, when our Communists, have become a spanner on every project?'

'Our brand of Communism is more suited for nightmares rather than dreams. That's the difference!'

ER Ramachandran is based in Mysore and can be reached aterram@rediffmail.com. The views expressed in the article are those of the writer.

First Published: Feb 24, 2006 19:53 IST