Some things HAVE changed !

If one watches the paid media or let’s say privately owned channels, even for a few minutes, you will almost believe that India is breaking up, and going to pieces all because a long time squatter artist has been evicted from his Lutyens Delhi bungalow or the dodo feels strongly about some inane issue. It’s not even entertaining to watch Arnab straining his vocal chords and busting a vein, trying to find out what purportedly the “Nation” wants to know because more often it’s something that he has a clear “opinion” on and it’s his dinner-digesting exercise that leaves the viewers with an upset stomach. 

On Friday, March 18, at 1:11 pm in the afternoon, Krishnan booked a refill for the gas cylinder that had run out at home. I promptly got a message on my phone saying, the refill is booked and will be delivered in a couple of days. At 2.30 pm, the doorbell rang and our afternoon siesta was interrupted because the refill cylinder was delivered. Here’s a picture of the text messages !! Yes, the former government put in the phone lines that enables this, they also put in the fibre optic cables under the ground to bring us the internet and probably the website was also developed for Indane gas when they were in power BUT and its a big BUT, in 26 years of using the gas cylinder, I have never had the pleasure of booking the gas online and getting it delivered the same day. The scene before was, the phone numbers won’t work so often we have had to go to the gas agency and book the refill and then it will take atleast 4 to 7 days before we got the refill. Also periodic shortages would delay the process further. 

The other scheme related to the whole “domestic” gas supply system is the “Giveitup” challenge. People who can afford to pay the full price of the cyclinder just give up the subsidy and the really poor get the subsidy credited to their “Jan Dhan”, zero balance bank account. We gave up the subsidy as soon as the scheme was announced. And I have been checking with Molina, the maid who comes to work at home, whether she has been getting the subsidy into her account and the answer has been a yes every time. 

There is website that tracks the success of this campaign and here’s a picture. 1 MILLION people have given up their subsidy. And guess what it’s a weekly tracking of numbers unlike the previous “government” schemes where there was no tracking or just once every five years. 

A few other things that have changed in the last year and a half – 

1. 2014-15 IT filing was done online, I didn’t have to print off the assessment and sign it so that it got physically deposited at the Bangalore office. 

2. Road infrastructure – several patches on the Sagar to Hyderabad road have been repaired fully and these patches had remained the same way for 6 years before and some patches which had no work being done for several years are seeing road laying machinery now. 

3. Electricity surplus – suddenly we don’t hear about coal shortage to run our power plants … Wonder why ? And see how the Energy ministry is tracking the rural electrification – 

4. Clean railway tracks in many places, clean compartments and clean platforms in most places. If we have time, we have started using trains rather than flights. 

5. Clean toilets in the roadside hotels, fuel stops. The one thing that I struggle with on long road trips in India is access to clean toilets and that has changed dramatically. We have found clean toilets in many places while there is still progress to be made in this area. The awareness is huge. There are many roadside hotels and highway fuel stations that advertise “clean toilets”. Just unheard of till a year back. 

6. My uncle works with Southern Railways and he says gone are the days when some of his colleagues would come late and leave early – everyone clocks in and works the entire shift. He also has a kickass young woman as his boss who apparently has kept everyone on their toes. 

Is it all rosy and everything has been solved ? No and everything will never be solved, but is there great progress in some areas, progress in most areas – the answer is a resounding YES. There are also some areas where this Government has gone wrong and hopefully will get back on track. The way OROP was mishandled and the gag on the Veterans agitation is unacceptable.

But is India progressing and on the right path – you bet !!!

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