Bydlím v Indii
I’m a proud Indian. A couple of weeks ago, Forbes
magazine announced the list of the world’s richest people. Among the
top eight wealthiest people on the planet, four of them were Indians. I
was so proud of their achievement as news channels and newspapers
around the world carried this news. Last week, one of India’s
illustrious companies bought the British made Jaguar and Land Rover
from Ford Motor Company. Indian companies are going global and are
making their presence known. For a common Indian like myself these are
great times. We are in the threshold of becoming an economic
superpower. We are at a time when everyone is proud to be an Indian.
But as a responsible young man I’m worried. Worried because I’m afraid
we are sending a wrong message to the rest of the world.
decades ago India was synonymous with poverty and starvation. While it
has come out of that gloomy past and is producing surplus food supply,
the reality has not changed in many quarters of the country. Half of
its people are still living below poverty level and literacy is just
over the half way mark. With a population of over a billion people the
number is mind-boggling - over 500 million, a figure that easily
surpasses the entire population of North America.
June I joined Maranatha Volunteers International in India. Being in the
media department, it has given an opportunity to visit many rural
villages in India. And what I see is what I don’t want the rest of the
world to know. The poverty and the struggle I see is painful to see. I
come across households that survive on stale watery rice for days
together. There are villages were people have to walk six miles up and
down just to get a pail of water. I surely don’t want to be proud of
this part of India. But unfortunately this is the stark reality.
I walk through these villages under the hot Indian sun I see children,
boys and girls, hardly six years old, carry piles of hay so huge that I
wonder if they can see where they’re going. These are probably children
who are helping their parents in the nearby paddy fields as daily
wagers. Others are playing in their verandahs. Sometimes I recognize
some of their games from my childhood days. “Do they know what it feels
like to be in a school classroom, learning to read and count?”, I
is the scene in every village I visit - people living in squalor and
disease. But who is to blame? We live in a world where the rich get
richer and the poor poorer. It would take the will and aspirations of
people who want to make a difference to these underprivileged people.
My heart aches as I witness these inequalities. I wish I could do
something to help their situation. But I question, “Have I done enough
with just these pangs of conscience?”
soul of India lives in its villages”, declared Mahatma Gandhi. I think
what he meant was true India can be found in its villages. And
sometimes, frankly, I wish I hadn’t found this “soul” of India.
I’m a hopeful man and I hope things will change. I’m reminded that if
each of us does our bit and just helps one it does make a difference.
With a little help from outside quarters, this change is possible.
Every affluent and able person needs to contribute to the well-being of
their deprived neighbors. There are many non-governmental organizations
that are taking a bold step in this direction. Maranatha Volunteers
International is one of many such organizations in India and I’m
delighted to be part of it.
are building schools across India now, most of these in the interior
parts of India. Not only is it building schools but helping fund
children’s education through sponsorship programs of the Church.
facilities are one of the prime needs in this country and Maranatha is
building clinics along with the other boarding facilities in its
schools. In places like Garo Hills we have seen the role these clinics
are playing, serving the school children as well the medically deprived
contrast to the hardship I see in these villages, there’s one thing
that never eludes me – the smiles on people’s faces. When they see a
visitor like me or any Maranatha volunteer, they give a smile so bright
it can light a thousand Indian cities. They have real joy in them and
that comes out immediately when you come in contact with them. This, in
spite of all the hardship they go through!
is people. And what am I doing for these people as an individual? What
are we doing as an organization? I like to believe that we are doing
our bit to make a difference in their lives by providing them
education, medical facilities, our presence, our handshakes and hugs,
and with that we are showing them Jesus and His love.