Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Can India Become a World Leader?

My cab entered into the Campus of the University of Mumbai. As I instructed, the Cabbie stopped at the Security Cabin. Seeing me getting out of the cab, the gatekeeper, clad in spotless ironed uniform, got out of the cabin and came toward me so swiftly, as if he wanted to help me. I asked him where I should go to get a duplicate mark sheet. Very respectfully, he told me the building number and then directed the Cabbie how to get there. Thanking him, I got back in. The Cab headed forward.

Amid blossoming flowers, lush green lawns on the both the sides, and under the sunlight filtering canopy of trees, the cab was moving along smoothly on the beautifully paved cement concrete road. In blazing heat of summer, the cool breezes from the Cab window had been literally drying out my perspiration. I was feeling so fresh, as if I was in an air-conditioned office.

Five minutes later, the cab stopped in front of a well-maintained fifteen-storied urban structure of glass. I got down, paid the cabbie, sped to the gate, and joined the queue that had fewer people. Within a minute, I got my turn. The well dressed security personnel asked me the reason why I was in the campus. I told him.  He let me get in. I passed through small air curtained electronic gate. One of the security personnel scanned me with his electronic gadget and told me the floor number and room number.

I headed to the elevator area. To summon the elevator, I pressed the button on the wall. In a few seconds, one of the six elevators’ doors slid open. I got in. As the doors closed, I felt an upward boost as if I was lifted smoothly. I didn’t even know how fast I got there. The doors slid open. Feeling cool and peaceful, looking at my own reflection on the granite floor, I walked along the hallway. I got into my room number. The room was divided into two parts with the glass partition.

As I went to my window, a well dressed representative asked me: “How can I help you, Sir?”

“I am looking for the duplicates of my mark sheet.” I replied.

Handing over a piece of paper, he said:”Please fill up this slip.”

It was a small slip with four lines – first name, last name, faculty, year of passing and seat number. I filled it up with whatever information I had and handed it over.

“Don’t you have a seat number?”

“I am sorry…”I told him regretfully: - “I lost everything…”

“That’s ok… May I have your ID please?”

I handed him over my driver’s license and passport.

Reading my name, he punched some keys on the keyboard. I saw from the glass that he checked and rechecked my driver’s license, passport and then looked at me as if he was making sure that I was the same person. “How many copies do you need Sir?”

“Two.” I said.

“It will cost you three hundred and ten bucks, Sir...”

“That’s fine…”

Returning my IDs, hitting the key on the keyboard, he told me: “Please collect your copies from window number 6...”

Collecting my IDs: - “I appreciate Sir, Thank you very much...” I thanked him and went to window number 6. I saw the associate behind the glass, who was stamping and signing my papers.

I tendered exactly three hundred and ten bucks. He counted and handed me over the duplicates with “Have a nice day, Sir…”

I checked the copies and thanked him. On my way back, I received greetings from the personnel at the gate in such a way as if serving me was a great pleasure for them.

Within next three minutes, I was out of the building. I got the same Cab and was the out of the campus of the University of Mumbai.

Dear Readers, 
If you are living in Mumbai and if you are reading this post, I am sure you are confused. You might be thinking what the hell am I talking about? Which world am I living in?

Let me clarify, this was the “Scenario of my Imagination”. This was the sequence of what I imagined before I got in to the Campus of University of Mumbai. 

Now, let me get out of my IMAGINATION and get into the FACT.

My cab entered into the University of Mumbai campus and halted at the gate. From the cab window, I saw two gatekeepers in a dilapidated cabin. One of them was having a glass of tea and the other was crushing tobacco on the other palm. I got down, went to them and asked where I should go to get a duplicate mark sheet. He curtly told me to ask at the next cabin. His discourtesy compelled me to glare at them. However it was in vain, as they were so busy chatting with each other that they didn’t notice my livid reaction.

I got back into the cab. The cab moved on the totally run down and wrecked road. A minute later we were at the next cabin, which was almost same. I got out and asked same question to the “cabin keeper”, who was sitting on the wrecked chair, same as the previous one. Without any expression on his face, he told me the building number and direction so mechanically, as the robot was talking to me.  I was simply unable to react!

Within five minutes, my cab was in front of a three storied building, which seemed neglected for a long time.

I got out, paid the cabbie, headed towards the gate keeper and asked the same question. As his mouth was full of Paan - he was unable to talk to me - pointed his hand at the queue on the other corner. What a disgraceful way of helping the people! I had an irritated reaction, which he noticed and responded with the same resentment. I ignored his response, as I didn’t want to create a scene. I smiled pathetically and joined the queue in scorching heat. It took about 25 minutes to get to the counter. I had to ask the same question again. I don’t know how many more times I will have to repeat!  The burly lady behind the window wrote the floor number and the room number on the yellow card and handed over to me. I turned to the building gate and the gatekeeper – now his mouth was not full of Paan - lets me get in.

Walking on the broken floor, I entered into a corridor that was so dark as if the light also didn’t like to get in. Walls were not painted for years. Litters were spread all around and across the hallway. Obviously I didn’t find the elevator. At the end of the hallway, I took the stairs and got on the second floor. The condition of the second floor was worse. As the yellow card suggested, I went to the room number and found my counter and few people at the window. I joined the queue.

After a couple of minutes, a helpful gentleman gave me a slip and said that I had to fill it up. I wrote the information that I had. After about 30 minutes, I submitted the slip at the counter to the ‘clerk with shabby clothes’. He read it and asked me my seat number. I said I don’t have. Giving me a room number, he told me to go to the first floor. I asked the reason. He said I need to talk to his senior as the matter is very old.  I took the slip back and rushed to the first floor and entered a room that was so small that it didn’t have a space to accommodate five regular tables and chairs. Small room, no counters, few tables and crowd of people! The situation seemed kind of chaotic. All of the representatives were so busy that I waited more than fifteen minutes to ask the question to one of them. I, handing over the slip to him, asked the same question. Yes, again repetition!  

Looking at the slip, he said: - “This is too old… you have to pay Search Fees… we will try to find your mark sheet but we don’t guarantee… and in that case Search fees will not be refunded…”  Many furious questions surfaced on my mind. But before I get them out of mind, he scribbled something on the slip and told to go back to the same counter at the second floor to pay Search Fees.

I came back to the second floor and entered the room. The queue was longer than before. After 15 minutes, as I got my turn, the "clerk with shabby clothes" disappeared. I observed that the other people behind the counters who seemed senior were busy talking, eating, having a cup of tea. Nobody bothered about the queue that was getting longer. My patience was on the test.  The "clerk with shabby clothes" came back after about half an hour. Hiding my rage inside me, I paid the search fees.

He gave me a receipt. I asked him how long it will take. He told me to come after fifteen days. If mark sheets are ready, I can pick them up or else forget about it. Again my jaws clenched. It was very difficult to control my rage. I left the counter, took a flight of stairs and was out of the building. In scorching heat, I walked more than fifteen minutes to find the Cab.

After two hours of ordeal, I got a PROMISE to get the duplicate of my Mark sheet after fifteen days, and that too if it is possible!

And what happened after 15 days has been another story of harassment and corruption. I would never like to narrate it to anyone.

University of Bombay – the name was changed to University of Mumbai in 1996 – was founded on July 18 1857. It is second oldest educational Institute in the country after the University of Calcutta.

It’s really pathetic to see the University of Mumbai, being one of the top five universities of Asia, in such a sorry state. I was a student from 1987 to 1990. I had visited the facility - at another place - couples of times. Believe me; it was better than this one.

This is a temple of knowledge. This is the place where education is born. This is the place where a pool of brilliant thinkers, scientists, educationists, economists and technologists are being produced every year and year after the year. With their knowledge and skill, they are enlightening the lives of human beings in our country as well as across the globe.

Why the people, who are administrating this facility, have brought down this temple of knowledge to this level?  Very simple. This is the outcome of our corrupt administrators and politicians, who are pocketing the resources granted for the noble purpose.  

Now and then, we all hear our Prime Minister – leaders – politicians are trumpeting of economic success and to be “World Leader” in the next decade.

I don’t think - It is going to happen. We won’t be able to see India as a world leader, unless our politicians and leaders start thinking about the country rather than their own interests.

In brief, the day “Scenario of my Imagination” will take place at the University of Mumbai; I would definitely imagine India as a “World Leader”.

What do you think?