Wednesday, 6 November 2013

India, our mother

What is the state of what Mark Twain called the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, and the mother of history?

More than half of India’s population is under the age of 25, with 65 percent under 35. The challenges and opportunities that presents are enormous. It could drive India's flagging economy for a century, overtaking China which is now past its peak. But if the world's largest democracy can't educate, train and feed this burgeoning population, then there is peril. India is home to a third of the world's poor and to half of the world's 30 million slaves. A third of the population lives under the poverty line of US $1.25 a day. I find this frightening. How will India face the consequences of a marginalised youth population existing on a scale unprecedented in modern history?

Meanwhile, on Tuesday India launched a mission to Mars. The Mars Orbiter Mission, known as "Mangalyaan" in India, successfully began its 400 million-km long journey, making it the first Asian country and the fourth in the world after the US, Eurpore and Russia, to undertake a mission to the red planet. The mission was announced only 15 months ago, shortly after an attempt by China flopped.

India, in many ways, is our mother. Will Durant, author of the eleven-volume The Story of Civilisation, summarised:
India was the mother of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. She was the mother of our philosophy, mother through the Arabs of much of our mathematics, mother through Buddha of the ideals embodied in Christianity, mother through village communities of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.
And again
It is true that even across the Himalayan barrier India has sent to us such unquestionable gifts as grammar and logic, philosophy and fables, hypnotism and chess, and above all our numerals and our decimal system. But these are not the essence of her spirit; they are trifles compared to what we may learn from her in the future.
Let's hope she survives.

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