02-Nov-2005

In A Spot - 021105

Next in the series. This time Tavleen Singh sees a grandiose clash between civil society and the political class in the Deve Gowda-Infosys spat. Like a true sage she foresees that the clash will only widen. Yeah, I'm sure people like Ramesh Ramanathan, who are working towards a partnership between these two, just don't get it.

Ms Singh recalls a recent visit to Bangalore and how she was impressed by the mid-day scheme run by ISKCON, and supported by Infosys. Enough to say airily:
It is my view that if Akshay Patra could be replicated in every district in India we could eliminate malnutrition and illiteracy.
Welcome to the real world ma'am. The political class beat you to it by at least 25 years, if not 50 years. They realised it and acted on the realisation, though learned people thought not very highly of their doing so. As one of the writers says:
Watching the 2004 drama unfold brought to mind a visit my colleague and I had made many years ago — 1980 to be specific — to Chingleput district, near Chennai. We made a round of visits to schools in villages run in sheds or under a tree to make a study of the Midday Meal scheme launched by the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M.G. Ramachandran. Of course, the learned scoffed at the idea and the newspapers had dismissed it as a populist stunt.
Italics mine. One can always count on the learned to know better I guess. Also, the GOI launched the mid-day scheme in 1995 apparently, though the SC had to get into the act to force some states to go with it.

As for libraries, the government seems to have thought of that too. We used to and still have have City Central Libraries run by the government. There were no restrictions on who could go there. I myself finished reading Home's Iliad in one such library, a bit pretentiously I should add. They were good once upon a time, before the masses (including me) tore the books up and dog-eared them and wrote on them and then openly stole them.

This is not to say that Infosys, Infosys Foundation, Mohandas Pai, Sudha Murthy or Rohini Nilekani are not doing good. I have the utmost respect for what they are doing and are able to do. My crib is with Ms Singh who can be so "humbled" by individual private acts of goodness, but can only see government actions through a prism of negativity. I don't mean Mr Gowda when I say 'government'.