Home Opinions The impotent dreams and shackled desires; memories of pre liberalization era

The impotent dreams and shackled desires; memories of pre liberalization era

The year was 1975. As I, a 10 year old, diminutive & under nourished kid, clutching a princely sum of 80 Paise in my sweaty palm, walked into the coal depot to buy the family’s monthly quota of cooking coal, the depot owner looked at me with all the scorn & contempt and commented, “God knows how these beggars get wind of coal’s arrival. They land up before supplies are unloaded.” Ridiculed & derided, as I wanted my world to just disappear, or wanted to die of shame there and then, if I knew that this shame would later be termed as simplicity, I would have felt a lot better.

ration shop
Illustrative picture

In the same year, when the corner grocery store owner commented, “Whole family is educated but you come again with your 30 Paise to buy 100 grams of lentils.” I could have told him that it is not poverty that makes it difficult to afford buying lentils for entire month but austerity, as eloquently explained by Mukul Kesavan now, I could have felt better.

- Advertisement - - Article resumes -

Or around the same time, dragging myself back home from the ration shop (Yes, they were called ration shops, back then, not the respectable ‘Fair Price Shops’ as they are called now), carrying only 1.6 kg of sugar, much less than monthly ration of 3.5 kg for the family of five, as the shop owner had, with all his imperial airs, declared that the sugar quota for the month had been cut, thinking how to face my mother back home, words like simplicity or austerity were not in any dictionary I had come across.

Or in 1978, when my brother succeeded in clearing written tests for State Civil Services and when during the interview, he was told that the bribe for clearing the interview would be Rs 1.5 lakhs, we realized in despair that our house, our only house, could fetch only around Rs. 40000. This, despite knowing  that the only way families could get out of the economic rut and join the company of haves was to have a government job, a powerful position at that. Then, we had to let go the opportunity of a lifetime, relegating a bright young man to a life of struggle & hardships. We did not know that we were doing it so that we could feel nostalgic about it around 40 years later.

Shall I continue with more examples of austerity as to why we did not buy a scooter even if we could afford it in 1980 or get a phone line till 1993? Simplicity & austerity?

No Mr. Kesavan, the pre reform era was not a period we remember for austerity, simplicity or with any kind of nostalgia.

We, and 99.999% of Indians, associate this period with the despairing rut of economic imprisonment, impotence of our dreams, subjugation to poverty and of servitude to the corrupt ruling elite.

We also remember this period for a clear distinction between haves and have not’s.

Typically haves were those who were born to or related to ruling party, controlling all the licenses, deciding who gets to eat, drink and wear what, making tonnes of money skimming off the supplies and quotas and are now romanticizing about Wrigley, Seiko or Parkers and the have not’s were those whose life was wasted running around ration shops, firewood depots., licensing authorities (even bicycles & radios needed licenses) and waiting for the day when one member of the family would get the most coveted position in the world; a job in with government, any department, any position.

Now, as I write this, with a Mont Blanc, bought from my own, honestly earned, tax paid income, I can say it with authority that for you, reforms might have been an event that brought you all that you coveted, from foreign lands, but for millions of us Indians, they changed our life, extracted us from sub human, extreme poverty, gave us imagination to dream, created an economic environment to realize those dreams and thinking beyond daily survival.

And we cannot continue with the charade of selling poverty as virtue, shortages as austerity, shackled dreams as simplicity and horrible, tormenting tribulations as nostalgia.

We have had too much of our history, contemporary and medieval, coloured by romanticized  outlook, directed by those with silver spoons and Khadi pothras, written by the court chroniclers, sung by the loyal bards. We should not make the same mistake again, history should not repeat itself and the court chroniclers should not be allowed to write this chapter of history from their standpoint only.

When the story of liberalization is written, it needs to be dominated by the life changing experiences of ordinary Indians.

Share This Post With Your Friends & Fans:
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.


Election 2019 Live Updates

Track all the updates on one page as the results and trends trickle in

IIT graduate and an IAS officer explains in detail why EVMs can’t be ‘hacked’ or ‘tampered’ with

Bhavesh Mishra, IAS 2015 batch, B.Tech IIT Delhi, on Quora gave a detailed explanation regarding why EVMs cannot be 'hacked' or 'tampered' with.

Barkha Dutt expresses deep anguish over the fact that the mainstream media can no longer influence elections

Barkha said it doesn't make her happy that mainstream media cannot influence the voters to vote in a particular way anymore.

‘Journalist sitting in a political party’s lap is calling others godi media’, Aaj Tak’s Rohit Sardana hits out at NDTV’s Ravish Kumar

Aaj Tak journalist Rohit Sardana said that earlier journalists used to decide ministry allocations.
Shehla Rashid remembers 2014, says she had wanted Kejriwal as PM

Shehla Rashid loses it early on counting day, says “Felt like a Muslim when ‘mass murderer’ won in 2014”

As early trends show an NDA victory, Shehla Rashid calls him a mass murderer, says she had wanted Arvind Kejriwal as PM in 2014 and she had felt like a 'Muslim'.

Live updates: According to EC, BJP leading in 299 seats on their own, clocks victory in 2, taking their tally possibly to 301

Latest results, trends, updates, and news about 2019 Lok Sabha election counting. Find out who will form the next government.
Shehla Rashid calls upon United Nations to resolve the EVM allegations

‘Why don’t we invoke the UN?’ Shehla Rashid takes EVM row to a new level as exit polls predict Modi’s victory

Shehla Rashid bemoaned about the lack of clarity and purpose among the opposition parties while levelling serious allegations of EVM fraud and rigging

Hindustan Times journalist links Hindu festival to Nathuram Godse, gets slammed

Ayudh Puja, also known as Astra Puja in some parts of India, was linked to Mahatma Gandhi's assassin.
NYT peddles Modi 2.0 as victory of India's most divisive leader

Dear New York Times, India has chosen Modi 2.0, deal with it

When India gives a thumping, unprecedented, overwhelming victory to a man who has made every single Indian feel proud of their nation and heritage, the NYT's heartburn is expected. 
Sba Naqvi spreads already debunked fake news on 'Missing EVMs'

India has 90 crore eligible voters, ‘journalists’ and opposition claim votes of 400 crore voters are ‘missing’

Following the rejection of the claims by ECI and the clarification over the issue, Frontline magazine had accepted that their report is false and a rejoinder will be published. TV9 Bharatvarsh had removed the report from their website and YouTube channel.
Subscribe to Day's Top Stories

Latest articles

Connect with us

164,457FansLike
141,784FollowersFollow
64,321SubscribersSubscribe
Share This Post With Your Friends & Fans: