|Saturday, January 20, 2001||
FIVE thousand years ago, Lord Krishna stood on the sacred land of Kurukshetra and gave Arjuna a sermon on karma. It changed the Indian thought and philosophy for all times to come. Today, in the new millennium, Haryana — the land of the Mahabharata — is about to take the big leap forward provided its people are prepared to heed to Lord Krishna words like Arjuna did.
conditions are in many ways similar to the times of the Mahabharata.
The people of Haryana need to wage a war. A war that would launch the
state into the cyber world. A war which would help break all barriers
to agricultural production. A war against all the ills plaguing the
Haryanavi society. And much like the Mahabharata times, the end of the
war will make Haryana once again the bahudhanyaka — the land
of immense riches — as the area is described in the Bhagavadgita.
But where does the state go from here? What does the new millennium hold for the Haryanavis? To answer these queries let us identify the three key areas, which will decide whether the state has geared itself to enter the cyber age. The development-oriented key areas are: agriculture and information technology. The key areas in the social sector are the male-female sex ratio and the crime rate. And lastly, the mother of all the key areas — politics.
It is generally said of Haryanavis that each one of them is born with a political streak. So let us have a look at the average Haryanavi's first love. In its infancy, the state gave the nation the political culture of Aya Ram, Gaya Ram. Political defections and the spoils of power became the hallmark of Haryana’s politics. In 1980, Haryana’s legislators set a dubious record when all the then ruling party legislators joined the Congress overnight.
In 1982, even though the people of Haryana expressed their disapproval for this culture, the outcome of the poll had little to do with the government that was to run the state for five more years. In 1987, Haryanavis again voted against the culture of defections, but the then rulers again failed to hold their flock together and nullified the popular will.
Last year, too, defectors ensured the fall of the Haryana Vikas Party-BJP combine government. Even though Om Parkash Chautala became Chief Minister with the help of defectors from the HVP, the Haryanavis’ collective and strong disapproval of the defectors was not lost on Chautala. The defectors found no place in the last assembly elections.
In fact, this is the most important gift Haryanavis gave themselves at the dawn of the new millennium.
The other positive political development in the state is the realisation that populist moves can no longer help parties and politicians run governments. Both Bhajan Lal and Bansi Lal were opposed to the idea of giving free power and water to farmers. And lately, Chautala too has taken a firm stand on this issue. The present government’s principled stand on realising the arrears of power bills from farmers is an indication of political maturity of the state as a whole.
This is, however, not to say that the state is about to rid itself of all its political ills. In the new millennium, Haryanavis need to have a look at the trend of centralisation of political power in the hands of the families which have been ruling the state from time to time. Politics and corruption in Haryana, like the rest of the country, are not strange bedfellows. Haryana will need to end this adulterous intimacy.
Talking of the development-oriented key areas; the present government’s love for e-governance and IT in general is welcome. It holds the all-important key to the future of Haryana. If the Haryanavis win this war, it could very well check corruption and solve the problem of unemployment to a very large extent.
The Information Technology Initiative Fund has been created with an initial corpus of Rs10 crore for e-governance and to promote information technology. It will also be utilised for developing replicable and reusable models of e-governance, IT innovations in administration, re-engineering and IT supported resource optimisation.
The government has created a fund of Rs 5 crore for the setting up an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) at Gurgaon. This institute is expected to become functional shortly. The information technology industry has been declared as a public utility service under Section 40 of the Industrial Disputes Act to promote this sector. Plans are afoot to set up an ultra-modern cyber city in Gurgaon. As per government claims, it will provide employment to five lakh persons and make an impact of Rs15, 000 crore on the economy of the state. Every government department, board and corporation has been asked to earmark five per cent of its budget for IT applications. A Haryana state wide area network (HARNET) for voice, data, video transmission and dissemination will be set up to cater as a backbone network.
If the words match karma, Haryana is bound to ride the information superhighway. The government’s plans will work out only if the people work towards the implementation of these plans. The educated youth will have to develop a vested interest in making these as yet grandiose plans a success if they want to reap the IT benefits and live a better life in the new millennium. For the government, it would be a good idea to first ensure that computers in government offices do not continue to be used as modern-day avatars of the typewriter. So far, very few government computers enjoy a better status than this.
In its first year of existence, Haryana produced just 39.70 lakh tonnes of foodgrains. The production rose to 113.32 lakh tonnes in 1997-98 and continues to show an upward trend. This is a fine tribute to the years of hard work put in by the average Haryanavi farmer. In the new millennium, however, the biggest challenge staring the state in its face is the problem of waterlogging due to flood irrigation. The gross irrigated area has gone up from 17.8 lakh hectares in 1966-67 to 48.29 lakh hectares at the end of the 1997-98 fiscal. In the new millennium, Haryana’s agriculture will be entirely dependent on how efficient its water management turns out to be. This again is a matter of karma.
Let us now visualise what the Haryanavi society will look like in the new millennium. The male-female sex ratio, which stood at 865 males for every 1000 males, continues to tilt in favour of males. As per trends of the ongoing census, this ratio for the 15 to 19 year age group is likely to be 756 females for every 1000 males – the lowest in the country. This means that in a few years, 24 per cent of the males will not be able to find a bride. It is a catastrophic situation to say the least. Already brides are hard to find.
To set right the lopsided male-female ratio is the biggest challenge facing this young state. Sadly, successive governments and NGOs have done precious little to reverse the trend. Sex determination test facility is now available at the doorsteps of houses in the rural areas of the state. There has been no serious attempt to enforce a ban on these tests. Among Haryana’s wars of the millennium, this one is the most important. It will need some real hard karma to win this war.
Next on the list of the millennium wars is the war to check the increasing crime rate. Unfortunately, crime has kept pace with the progress made by Haryana. We may even safely say that crime has outpaced development. The number of murders has gone up from 192 in 1970 to 677 as on March 31, 2000. During the same period, the number of crimes reported under various sections of the IPC has gone up from 4836 to a whopping 33010. And then let us not forget that all the crimes committed do not get recorded in police files.
Going by the current trend, Haryana’s Millennium Edition will not only see traditional crimes gaining pace, but crime against women multiplying and IT-related crimes registering an increase. It is time the state armed itself for a dharmayudh against crime. For that is what the Mahabharata was all about — victory of good over evil.
And lastly, what should
be the motto of the millennium for every Haryanavi worth his salt. If
you were to ask me, it lies in the famous quote by former US President
John F. Kennedy: So my countrymen, ask not what your country can do for
you, ask what you can do for your country. Is that not what karma is