Shaping India’s Future

Shaping India’s Future

BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST, by Kusum Nair. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co., 1961, 201 pages.

In Western countries, the phrase, “revolution of rising expectations” has suddenly become very popular in regard to newly emerging countries in Africa and Asia. It is good that people who are eager to help be aware of the needs of these nations. But there is a danger that those who desire to assume the responsibility of giving life and reality to the so-called revolutionary “expectations” may overlook or simplify certain problems. In their zeal they may not consider the fact that this “revolution” may be limited to a few intellectuals and leaders.

The danger is certainly strong in regard to India. The ethnic and social diversity of the country makes it almost certain that development projects useful in one region will be undesirable in the others. Even within a single region, the people’s attitude to work and life, influenced by tradition, culture and religion, can make the fulfillment of the schemes difficult.

Aware of this problem, thoughtful Indian writers have been trying to probe into the minds of the people so as to bring their ideas and attitudes to the leaders and planners. Kusum Nair’s The Blossom in the Dust is an important effort in this direction.

The book reveals a simple but startling fact, that in India the most penetrating and far-reaching development projects have left almost no impact upon the individuals and communities involved. In some remote villages, the new citizens of India haven’t even heard of the 5-year plans, or of the gigantic power installation schemes. In several cases, those who naturally live where the dams are under construction, are totally unconcerned with the whole scheme. To them, primarily, it is a whim of the government; and they are ready to tolerate its fancies.