Opinion – The twain shall never meet…

Sixty three years is a long time. If I were sixty-three I would have hoped that I could look back at the years that have gone by in quiet contemplation, more appreciative than not, without much angst or regret. I hope to be sitting in my rocking chair in a quiet corner of my home that has a sprawling view of the blue ocean, and I hope that my near cataract eyes take in the blissful blue of the ocean and I have all the time in the world to ponder why the twain never met. When Rudyard Kipling first muttered about the diversities of the east and west in his ballad long before independence was declared, he had good instinct for the times to come. But, the prudence that was displayed by Kipling in fully understanding that differences will always remain differences because of our diversity in culture , religion, ethnicity is something that can never be done away with. To imagine our country with no differences is to imagine that we areΒ all aboard the Shangri La train.

Yesterday there were many who commented on Dr Manmohan Singh’s Independence day speech. Many thought he sounded feeble, repetitive and even boring. It is unimaginable to think that Dr Singh could sound like a Tiger, so let us stop having any expectations.Dr Singh is a man we can be at least be a bit proud to call our leader and especially when we compare him to a Deve Gowda or a Chandra Shekar. He is a great economist but does he well and truly have the freedom to guide the country in an able manner? For one who has no freedom in making and taking strategic decisions for the country without the nod of Mother Superior, is it rather ironic that we hear him speak of it? Freedom implies different things to different people. In the case of our Prime Minister, breaking away from Sonia’s shackles would mean freedom. Give this man freedom and India will rise and shine like it never did before. Will the twain meet? No.

It is premature to think we have come a long way in the last sixty-three years alone. We belong to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The Homosapien’s free movements in the country began as early as 75,000 years ago and the first civilization, the Indus valley sprung between 3300 to 1300 BCE. People may have been a lot freer way back then, free from oppression, free from corruption. They concentrated on their arts and creativity was encouraged. Town planning and municipal organization was birthed in the Valley,and the people of the Indus valley and Harappa should be credited for shaping India. Science, culture, symbology and religion flourished in this archaic period. Under the Gupta and the Mauryan empires, Science, Arts, Astronomy, technology, literature received a boost. Patrons from the Vijaynagar, Chola and the Chalukyan dynasties encouraged progress.Despite being ruled by various dynasties, tyrannical oppression was faced only in 1600’s under the likes of Aurangazeb and India was plundered and looted the Ghazni’s and the Ghoris till she succumbed to the ways of the British Raj thereafter. Many an invasion, had its share of advantages though. From the British we inherited the railway network, introduced as early as 1853 to evolve into one of the largest in the world. Thanks to our ancestors from the valley ( for their thinking ) and the British ( for their planning )we are left with the infrastructure that we have today. If not, God forbid our plight. In the last sixty-three years, it almost appears that we have been tarring the same left over roads and riding the same trains? Despite our advancements in Information and Technology, our flourishing call centres and our ability to migrate jobs from off shore locations, there is something really amiss, something that stops India from being complete in the name of progress. We are wrong in thinking we are a young country. We are well past our prime. There is a lot that needs to be done.

The road ahead is not clear, it remains dusty and murky. Until such a time that corruption is dealt with an iron fist, the democracy is not free. The system has us all firmly in its clutches and we succumbed to it a long time ago. We have given in to its ways, we proclaim independence. But, what are we independent from? Are we independent from corruption, nepotism, bureaucracy, perversion, immorality,depravity? No, we are most certainly not, we seem to be more dependent than ever before. We continue to be ruled by a dynasty. Nothing much has changed since the first foreign invasion of India. Out of the sixty-three years, over forty years we have been ruled by one dynasty. A majority part of the last sixty-three years has been under a pseudo democratic form of governance. We have only ourselves to blame. For the sake of stability, we are unwilling to let go of the past and we want to place our future in the same hands. Yes, we are proud that we ousted the British in 1947, and we had set ourselves for a greater and better India post independence. But, have we really come a long way since 1947? If progress comes at a cost of losing our sense of fair play and values, would you rather have no progress at all?Can India achieve equipoise?


34 Responses to “Opinion – The twain shall never meet…”

  1. Sharmila,

    A timely subject.

    Anyone who feels that this universe, this planet, the sky, land, air and water belongs to him or her needs to do a reality check.

    I work for a shell company where the management system procedures are written by a select core of intellectuals.

    I was recently asked to give ‘feedback’ on a new draft guidelines, and among other things I sent a question that was not answered by the system.

    The response I got is worth a thought. It said,

    If an answer is not found in the system, the question doesn’t exist.

    Will the twain ever meet? The question doesn’t exist!

    Because Time does not exist for an object that goes around in circles…


    Back soon…

    • The twain does meet under special circumstances. S Africa is an example where it met briefly around the time that Mandela was released. It has digressed again with time. If every individual in this planet gave up his ego and alter ego, miracles would no longer be such.

  2. Sharmila,

    On the opening paragraph of the post. Diversity.

    I think diversity existed as much in my mind as it existed outside.

    Once upon a time, when I was full of dreams and desires, I saw diversity in the smallest of things.

    My clothes were different, my language was different, my performances were different, my views were different, my wishes were different, my house was different, my family was different, my God was different, I was different…

    ‘Diversity is good.’ said someone.

    I listened to that. It sounded good. So I became indifferent to the diversity – who cares…

    Unity in Diversity said Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

    I listened to that. It sounded good. So I ignored all the differences and accepted justice to all or none as proper – who cares…

    I am very grateful to this diversity. It existed for four decades in my mind.

    Today there is no diversity in my mind. I have resolved my dreams and desires. Completely side-stepped the madding crowd…


    • Diversity, is a state of mind. If we believe there is diversity, there will be, if we believe there is none, there wont be. There can not be unity in diversity, that is wishful thinking and imagining a rather utopian state of affairs in this country. Either there is diversity or none of it. A quandary we remain in.

  3. Aishwarya Says:


    Such a well written post…

    How developed would we like our nation to be? Repeatedly invaded and looted, all we had left when we gained independence was a battered bruised nation with a wounded pride. The fear is that with the level of corruption, we might lose our pride too. How our leaders do this to our nation is beyond comprehension. Why we chose them to do so is another mystery.

    Maybe our independence lies only in the fact that we could choose such a beautiful flag… We are citizens. We know our roots. We know we belong. Perhaps we should first ask what our duties to our nation are, and then claim our rights…

    Pounding the nasty dynasty could be the first duty…:)


    • Thanks as always Aish. The problem lies exactly in the fact that we fail to understand our duties towards the nation. If we understood our duties as humans in the first place, everything else too would fall in place.

  4. Prashanth K.P. Says:

    63 years might have taken our Country leaps and bounds economically if you wish. But when the cultural fabric of our country which hosts and owns a civilization from untold times, is threatened by petty vote bank politics, dynastic predominance, minority browbeating, majority laxness, regional political empowerment, cross-border incursion, internal security threat, terrorist safe houses so on and so forth, 63 years may appear anything significant. By some grace of god, the country remains intact still….but for how long. There are large segments within the society who preach doctrines belittling the constitution of India and boldly dwell without any reaction from the Union government. How safe are we, the Indians? Down South, we have hardcore Terrorists like Madani untouched, anti-national groups like Popular Front of India chopping off hands etc., Central and North-East India in the grips of Maoists, North West under Jihadis, i.e. literally we are a time bomb awaiting to explode! No authorities are concerned. No political parties are concerned. On the contrary, political parties are discreetly obtaining their votes, governments are protecting anti-national elements, and a pseudo farcical image of progress, peace, emerging economic power etc.etc. is being marketed. I wish it was so….but….. my frustrations apart, your scribblings are highly valuable and note worthy.

    • Prashanth – Thank you for your comprehensive set of thoughts here. There are many times even I am inclined to believe that it is God who is holding this country together. Intact, is exactly the word. No political party is concerned about India anymore. It is all about making the maximum amount of money when in power as there is no guarantee on when they will be back again.

  5. Lakshmi Jag Says:

    Dear Sharmila

    A well written post, living outside India I can truly say that the strength of India lies in its peoples ability to be happy under any circumstance. I have not seen children anywhere else in the world who can laugh, play and display all their teeth despite the surroundings they live in. I only wish the rich will be able to share their wealth and open their hearts. The probability of Kalki appearing is more than politicians doing something to improve the country

  6. Lakshmi – Thanks. Yes, everyday when i read the newspaper about children being raped, children being maimed, politicians sleaze and corruption, terrorist activities, I wonder why Kalki has not arrived! This is kalyug at it’s worst. Maybe the situation is so bad that Kalki too cannot deal with it?

  7. Sharmila,

    Thank you.

    About the past and the present.


    During the days of Chandra & Samudra Gupta Maurya and Ashoka the social orders were traditional.

    The social duties were prescribed by the social order:

    Learned Classes: Research, Teaching, Advisory roles. These people were called guru. They were scholars in their vocation. For example, Bharadwaj developed models for designing machines, Vishwamitra developed weapons, Aryabhatta was a genius in mathematics (created the number line starting with zero), and hundreds more. The Nalanda university was entirely dedicated to their work and students. I was surprised to find that many of the original papers are in Malayalam, not Sanskrit. They received everything free from the Rulers and no taxes.

    Rulers/ Warrior: Their main job was to maintain an army and protect the people from external threats. And also, maintain Law and Order and justice system supported by a cabinet of advisors. The rulers received 1/6th of all earnings as tax.

    Traders/ Merchants and Businessmen: They were buyers and sellers of goods. They paid 1/6th of their earnings as tax.

    Workers: Indulged in agriculture, crafts, trades and sold their products to the merchants. Paid 1/6th of their earnings as tax. Worked for Engineers, Architects, Doctors, Priests etc from the learned classes.

    Actors/ Artists: Portrayed the beliefs of the society in various art forms.


    Today, everything is the same with the addition of a few grey sections like the Media, United Nations, NGO etc.

    Some changes are quite obvious. Warriors, Engineers, Doctors etc are workers. Rulers are brokers. Actors are brand ambassadors.

    We live in the present. So, I guess the past does not matter.

    • There is diversity in profession too and so there must be, else there would be chaos. The past matters in terms of acknowledging those who were instrumental in shaping our present in terms of the progress. The last 63 years have not seen much besides rapid deterioration.

  8. Anand Khare Says:


    I would like to share this article by Mr. Chetan Bhagat on Independence day eve,



  9. Anand, thanks for this. Worth a good read and a laugh. CB knows truly what real freedom for our PM is.

  10. Reproducing Cb’s write up –

    On August 14, 2010, inside a quiet, leafy, guarded bungalow on Race Course Road, a stressed old man shifted uncomfortably on his sofa. A young man next to him offered solace.

    “You’ll be fine. You’ve done it before. It’s only the Independence Day,” the young man said as he stacked sheets of paper.

    “Do i have to give a speech?” the old man said, “I hate to talk.”

    “But you are the prime minister,” the young man said, “And i am here, your speech-writer. Why worry?”

    The PM remained uncomfortable. He looked at his phone. No calls or messages from high command. Without direction, life was extra hard.

    The writer continued, “It’s mostly school kids who attend. There is no Q&A at the end. Unfurl the flag, stand for the national anthem, take the gun salute, read the speech it is standard stuff.”

    “Everyone gets a holiday on Independence Day,” the PM said, “why can’t i?”

    The speech-writer was speechless. He changed the topic.

    “Should we talk about the content?” the writer said, “what do you want to focus on?”

    “I don’t know. What do you suggest?” the PM said. “Is there anything worth talking about?”

    The speech-writer paused to look at the PM in disbelief before he spoke again: “So much has happened. Just in the past months.”

    “Like what?” the PM said.

    “Like the Bhopal verdict no real punishment.”

    “Yes, but i don’t have to talk about that,” the PM said, “that story has died.”

    “Along with the thousands,” the writer mumbled.

    “What?” the PM said.

    “Nothing. How about the crazy inflation? People are truly sick of it,” the writer said.

    “Really?” the PM said.

    “Really what? That there is inflation or people are sick of it?” the writer said.

    “Both i guess. I never buy anything. People do it for me. And i can’t talk about inflation. It’s too sensitive an issue.”

    “But it affects your people,” the writer said.

    “Next,” the PM said.

    “Corruption? Look at the Commonwealth Games full of murkiness. Why don’t you resolve to put the criminals to book.”

    “Criminals who?” the PM said.

    “The politicians and officials who did it,” the writer said.

    “But they are important people,” the PM said.

    “They’ve broken the law. Isn’t the law the same for everyone?” the writer said.

    “It is?” the PM said.

    The writer could only raise his eyebrows in response.

    “It can’t be the same law. Have you ever seen any high-profile official in jail for corruption?” the PM said. “Any?”

    The writer shook his head.

    “I don’t like to make false promises,” the PM said.

    “Of course,” the writer said and cleared his throat, “how about Kashmir? Violence has flared up there. Or maybe we can combine it with the Naxalite disturbance and talk about internal strife?”

    “Talk what?” the PM said, “why do people like to talk? Why?”

    “Talk to show you care,” the writer said, “and talk about solving the issues, of course.”

    “Is that my job?” the PM said.

    “You are the prime minister. The most powerful person in the country. You can make things happen,” the writer said.

    “Stop making fun of me,” the PM said, “other topics?”

    “India-Pakistan relations,” the writer said.

    “I am not allowed to talk about that,” the PM said.

    “Not allowed?” the writer said, confused on who could disallow the PM. The PM raised one eyebrow to the framed pictures on the wall above. The writer saw the person the PM was referring to. Both exchanged half smiles.

    “It’s OK. I am used to it now,” the PM said.

    The writer stretched his arms out. “I’m out of ideas. You guide me, sir. We don’t have that much time.”

    ” General topics,” the PM said, “just make it broad enough that there is no controversy. But not so boring that the guards and kids go to sleep,” the PM said.

    The writer bit his upper lip to mull over the PM’s suggestion.

    “Like i’ll tell you,” the PM explained, “talk about poverty reducing it, of course. And education. And stuff like we won’t tolerate injustice and inequality. Oh, and use the word superpower a couple of times just don’t mention a specific issue or put a real opinion.”

    The writer nodded slowly as he absorbed the instructions.

    “OK, sir, in that case, all i have to do is look at last few years’ speeches and cut-and-paste to make a new one.”

    The PM’s eyes opened wide as he shook his head. “Don’t!” he said, using his rare loud voice, “don’t do that. The TV channels catch on to the cut-and-paste. Who’s that feisty TV anchor?”

    “Barkha Dutt?” the writer said.

    “Yeah, her. She’ll rip it apart. Not to mention that Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami and Deepak Chaurasia. They track all the copy-paste stuff, they’ll talk non-stop about it,” the PM said.

    “OK, OK, won’t refer to the past speeches,” the writer said.

    “No you can. Just make sure it is from speeches at least 20 years ago, before these anchors started work.”

    “Oh, OK,” the writer said, “the content is the same anyway. Fine sir, you’ll have it in two hours.”

    The writer stood up to leave. The PM escorted him to the door.

    “You are a quick learner, i wish you all the success in life,” the PM said.

    “Thank you sir. I wish you…well, what can i wish you? You have everything.”

    “Wish me freedom, real freedom,” the PM said, looking at the writer in his eyes as the door shut between them.

    Read more: PM And The Speech-Writer… – Edit Page – Opinion – Home – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/PM-And-The-Speech-Writer/articleshow/6306432.cms#ixzz0wqd66JeV

  11. Sharmila,

    On the last paragraph of the post. The Road Ahead…

    Lest I venture into that blindfolded, allow me to quickly do a reality check.

    In the days before independence, there were about 350+ kingdoms ruled by the Englishman in the name of his King in London.

    Industrial engineering created opportunities to use natural resources in large quantities without additional efforts.

    This opportunity was for those who owned the machinery and equipment. The infrastructure developed in the process was accounted in the business models.

    For example, a Petroleum Company makes a deal with Kings or Governments. The company explores, drills, produces, transports and delivers the oil and pays a royalty through a shareholding agreement. The income to the country of origin goes into the development of infrastructure and sustenance of the citizens. The income of the Oil company goes to its investors and the lifestyle of their children in the West.

    In the Hawaii, the world’s largest sugarcane producing terrain is 30,000 acres and farmed by a handful of people from one family. Gigantic machines and automatic equipment do all the work.

    In India, this model is currently used in Mining, Power, Chemicals, hydrocarbon downstream facilities and textiles. It will soon be extended to agriculture.

    The wealth of this nation does not belong to local natives. The Forty Fourth Amendent of the constitution removed Property Rights from Article 19. The Land Acquisition Act came into force, allegedly to prevent the rich from buying all the land and leaving the poor landless.

    Effectively the entire population is landless. All the land and its wealth belong to the central government. The citizens are only workers in an organogram with different designations according to their abilities. Rich or poor everyone is a watchman guarding the wealth for the rulers.

    The Road Ahead

    The master plans for development of each industry require more technology and less people. This enriches the inheritors. A civil war or ethnic cleansing may probably accelerate these plans.

    India produces enough of everything to feed all of Europe and the Welfare State of England. It currently feeds all of ME. If India is adequately industrialised and the consuming illiterates occupying the nation are properly compromised it can feed the rest of the world.

    The political caucus is already working towards that. Some minor hinderances like the Indian currency, Gandhism and the noisy population have to be gracefully buried with persistent rhetoric.

    India is the best tropical piece of land for the survival of the freezing bears. They have successfully crippled Mexico and Brazil. They hope to work that on India too.

    The present is paving the way for that future to come. Kill the culture, globalize the wealth…

    • Great set of thoughts again Reader. ethnic cleansing or a civil war though is not an alternative. It is at times like these when the greater enemy makes us into a scapegoat.

  12. Look forward to any new site updates.

  13. Breaking News:

    I had said this before. The Planning Commission Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Manmohan Singh take instructions from teh WB and the United States.

    Someone from the South Block has leaked emails from US Dy NSA Michael Froman to Montek to TimesNow.

    Montek writes to Fromen for assistance to raise the borrowing limits from WB adding that UK has pledged its support.

    In reply, Froman says in clear terms that India must stop the development against Dow Chemicals in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy!

    Lets talk of terrorist handlers!

  14. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Indeed its a Mad, Mad, Mad World…..!

  15. Reader,
    Why do you find it so surprising…!? It’s been a long history of slavery for India and Indian ppl….so it’s quite obvious that politicians find difficulties in operating on their own…No wonder….Before it was Russia…. playing role of an Advisor..Now it’s US….No biggy…! Someone has to step in….! πŸ™‚

    • MonaLisa,

      That’s true. In Engineering Statics & Dynamics this sort of movement is called Inertia.

      There are times of uncertainty when a situation becomes potentially violent and the common man lets unruly politics win rather than allow street violence to prevail.

      But, I guess, that is true about most things in social life in India. Better a noisy politician than a cold blooded tyrant.

      The side effect of the email leaks is also interesting.

      There many in the neo-rich Indian society who are holding on to their cash through the banking system.

      The fact the Montek is lobbying for additional borrowing from WB has caused a general flutter among those living on Indian currency.

      If the Indian Rupee is devalued their savings are likely to be wiped out. We are still country who save money for retirements. We are not a welfare state and there is no state social security.

      Add to that Montek’s slip on NDTV during a quick exchange with Pranab Roy.

      He is expecting the food inflation to come down at the retail level but has no hopes for the Whole Sale Price Index. Which means a devaluation will divert cash to the stockists!

      Hopefully, the Congress has a five year plan to deal with all this turbulance. They have only completed one and half years in office. They will probably roll back all these policies in the fifth year before the next elections.

      Meanwhile, Mamta Banerjee is on the verge of making history in West Bengal. First time in the history of free India the Communists are likely to be voted out of the City of Joy!

  16. Would India remain the same…!? A Democratic Country…!? Very doubtful it is….!
    Hmm….Lets see …who is going to win capturing India eventually..!? Maoists/communists(China)
    Muslims( Pak)
    Some other outsider…may be….

  17. Prashanth Jeevan Kumar Says:

    Very Well written, great follow up and awesome picture.

    Do not have much to offer except my 2 paisa worth – Twain will meet when we have a single outside force challenging our very existence.

    Words of wisdom from the Mahatma himself
    “Peace comes not from the absence of conflict in life but from the ability to cope with it”.

    “The earth provides for every man’s need but not for every man’s greed”.

    • Thanks Prashanth and love your optimism. The quotes are timely too. Lets hope we continue or at least learn to cope with the myriad problems that we are bombarded with on an ongoing basis.

  18. Now this is the time to wake up…! Not one but many forces are intruding indirectly rather than directly, which in my opinion is more dangerous and hard to figure out…..
    Sorry…Sharmila..! Didn’t want to predict a Dooms Day yet the present situations do not seem very peachy. Its really a Bad Luck for a nation and its ppl where Leaders/rulers are afraid to address Real problems and let it worsen. Its bad when corruption has reached its new heights and is accepted more or less as a norm in society/country.

  19. Best you could change the blog name title Opinion – The twain shall never meet… Sharmila says… to something more generic for your webpage you create. I liked the post yet.

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