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On a new cusp of a dream in the making, Pune can learn from Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan
Posted On Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 10:49:54 PM
We had started talking about the major works this country had taken up, post independence.
Interestingly, most ‘modern temples’ came up in Nehru’s times. He was more sahib than most Britons, perhaps, and passionately chased his dreams and vision about the setting up of a modern India.
The foundation of all major institutes (IITs, IIMs, AIIMS) of great repute, as well as townships, hydel projects, space projects — the list goes on — were laid during his time.
And today, when we see a school kid with laddoo in his mouth giving credit to the tutorial company for helping him gain entry into an IIT, we somehow fail to see the importance of having and setting up such places of fine minds in the first place.
Only three significant constructive developments happened after Nehru. They are self-sufficiency in agriculture achieved through green revolution, national connectivity through telephones, and now, IT. But essentially knowledge industry and IT are fruits of institutionalisation of knowledge and academic excellence.
The Golden Quadrilateral is still in progress and there are already too many diversions here — both literal and metaphorical.
Nehru could do it for a variety of reasons. He had seen the world. He had a grand vision and was concerned about how history was going to measure him.
More importantly, he could get the experts to work for him. He could create such great properties in industry, knowledge and cosmopolitanism, which are still functional and act as backbone for India’s thriving economy. He was a man of words, with a profound aesthetic sense.
He could lead from the front, could attract great talent and motivate them. He also gave them autonomy and ownership to execute and deliver.
When we compare India’s post-independence story to Pakistan’s, the difference is very much clear. We started with almost similar constants and variables.
Making political fortunes by short-changing the long-term welfare of the country, by waging wars, killing its own people and perpetuating hate has taken that country into a very different destiny compared to India’s.
The biggest difference is that the state finds people much more disposable in Pakistan. Its economy is based on grants which come in dollars. One of the major products with Made-in-Pakistan tag is Islamic terrorism, which would eventually attack all things American. It is a story of destruction more than that of construction.
When we look at projects coming to Pune, whether it is BRTS, or Metro, or funds of JNNURM, or processes of waste disposal, there is this clear approach which is so-not-like Nehru’s. Take a look at the buildings, the bridges and the flyovers which came up in Pune due to state funding in free India.
Yes, corporate and private sector enterprises have great things to show. Why do they have far less grandeur, aesthetic relevance and functionality than the city’s heritage buildings? Why some are examples of bad architecture? Pune, at any given time, has the best brains in the country; some of the best bureaucrats, scientists and technocrats have made their home here.
The question is how much does the city make use of them? What makes PMC and its leaders (given their history of ideological sommersaults and records of opportunism) think they can take the city to the best of its future, what it deserves?
Of course, we are all responsible for the leaders we have chosen and we would pay for their deeds. And some day, we will also learn from this mistake of choosing them. Sixty years after Independence, we are harvesting totally indigenous fruits of our democracy.
India will remember Nehru more than Pakistan would remember all its leaders in the coming centuries. Do we have one leader from Pune, who we are going to remember for taking us to the future that beckons this city?
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