[This post was meant to come up a couple weeks ago. Updates at end.]
“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”
I’ve never understood American attitudes towards rain. India loves the idea of rain, and the coolness in the air and on the skin, and the smell of damp earth. Every year with the first storms children dance in the rain and the radio plays love songs. This year, the monsoon is late in coming – it’s been the driest monsoon for 113 years. Everywhere in India, parched lands and thirsty animals await the rain. It has been coming in light showers, in mists and droplets, not in the swift lashings of storm needed for the growth of the paddy & the wheat & the millet. This drought is an agricultural and economic tragedy. In Pune, thousands of farmers have marched on the city with bullock carts, demanding water. The water supply has been cut 12% all over the city with perhaps more to come, and many days, even the office doesn’t have running water.
Infrastructure in India has been a lot on my mind these past couple of days. Yesterday, we watched the annual government budget. Much like the first rain, the budget is an event in India. I remember my whole family (all accountants) dragging our box of a TV into the living room and the office staff coming to watch the government ministers lay down the country’s agenda for the year. This year, though, we had to watch it in a bar. The power was cut all day at the office, but since I had to create a report of the budget by the evening, we headed back to the bar we’d left just a few hours ago after the World Cup semifinal. (Needless to say, the manager was a little bemused). So here we were in the lobby of an air conditioned five star hotel while business ground to a halt all over the city due to a lack of power.
Obviously, I had an interest in what the finance minister had to say about water supplies and power. But because of DICCI I also have a specific interest in how the Budget will affect MSMEs, industry, ST/SCs, and entrepreneurs. Well, the budget promises universal sanitation, power, primary education especially for the girl child, foreign investment, etc. And especially relevant to DICCI, it promised large set asides for the welfare and encouragement of ST/SC populations, as well as several funds to encourage entrepreneurship. DICCI hopes to help the government in the implementation of these schemes (I’ll attach the report I wrote about the budget to be sent to the members)…(Ok I don’t know how to do that)
I want to believe that this #budgetofhope, as it is called on Twitter will be actionable and impactful but already there are sceptics.
I am so very interested, more than I ever thought in these matters of public policy. Yet politics in India can be such an ugly business. So I guess we’ll wait, for the rain and for change and progress.
UPDATE as of July 24 – The rain at least has come. Don’t know yet about the change, but I am hoping for it…