Saturday, April 17, 2010


Seorang pujangga Jerman bernama Johann Wolfgang von Goethe telah menulis dalam tahun 1787 seperti berikut:
( Buku ini diterbitkan pada tahun 1997 oleh Martin Secker & Warburg Limited )
I should be sorely tempted, if I were ten years younger, to make a journey to India - not for the purpose of discovering something new but in order to view in my way what has been discovered.
Gita Mehta menulis buku ini untuk Mark Twain yang menulis pada tahun 1897 seperti berikut:

'the sole country under the sun that is endowed with imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined'.
Oleh kerana negara kita mempunyai ramai rakyat, dan bukan rakyat, yang datang secara sah atau yang tinggal setelah visanya luput tempoh, yang berasal dari India, elok juga kita mengetahui sedikit sebanyak mengenai negara asal atau negara nenek moyang mereka untuk kita memahami orang-orang keturunan India yang memainkan peranan dalam berbagai kegiatan hidup, di samping kita, di Malaysia. Kita perlu mempelajari mengenai negara India dari penulis berketurunan India, yang kasih pada India dan masih menjadi rakyat negara India. Kita tidak boleh mempelajari mengenai India hanya dari pengarang Inggeris yang bangsanya pernah menjajah India walaupun ramai orang asing suka mempelajari mengenai bangsa Melayu dari pengarang dari bangsa yang pernah menjajah Malaysia.


Dalam para ketiga Gita Mehta menulis:

'Those who believe in the dialectics of materialism or the authority of history wander through the ruins of glorious empires and tell us India has learned nothing from her past. Others play statistical roulette and tell us India has no future. Professor John Kenneth Gilbraith, sent by President Kennedy as American Ambassador to India, came up with a catchy, even accurate phrase when he described India as a 'functioning anarchy.'


Berikutnya Gita Mehta menjelaskan mengenai kedudukan bahasa di India:

The government of India officially recognizes seventeen major Indian languages in which state business may be conducted. Each of these languages possesses not just its own ancient and contemporary literature, not only its own newspapers, radio and television programmes, its own films, but an individual script. Then we have the classical language of Sanskrit. On top of that we have over four hundred other languages, some written, others oral. And of course, as the joint language of administration we have English, a language which Indians have made uniquely their own in mor than two centuries of usage.

If speaking in tounges is a mark of divine inspiration then surely India can claim to be the most divinely inspired place on the planet. Yet linguistic politics is a sword held to India's throat and every time some foolish chauvinist demands the imposition of one of India's many languages as the national language, the nation erupts in language riots. Such passion in my view is just as it should be. To impose a common national language, with its implications of a common culture, on a a country as richly diverse as India would tragically diminish. us.

In Bombay there is a tree in the middle of a traffic island, gallantly denying the urban nightmare and admirably illustrating the poet W. H. Auden's definition of civilization as 'the degree to which diversity is attained, unity retained'. It is my favourite shrine, housing three separate faiths while the anarchy of Bombay's traffic hurtles oblivious around it. On one side of the tree is a white plaster Christian cross. On another is a small image of the elephant-headed Ganesh, the Hindu god of protection. On the third side is a small concrete altar on which worshipers place the Korana when they pray to Allah.

'In the early fifties, years before feminism became a catchword in the West, the poorest women in Ahmedabad had pooled the meager sums they earned by scavenging in refuse dumps, pulling hand-card, selling rags, breaking stones for roads, carrying bricks in cane baskets on the heads, and started their own co-operative bank. They called themselves S. E. W. A., the Self-Employed Woman's Association.

Their bank enabled them to take out loans and invest in such things as a sewing machine to make garments to sell. As soon as one group's initial investment was returned, another group of women took out another loan to start another cottage industry and become economically secure. Some members borrowed money to join training facilities and gain skills which would later allow them to form their own small commercial units. Other continued to ply their usual trades. But they were no longer hostage to money-lenders eager to turn their despair into limitless profit. Their own bank stood between them and such exploitation.'

' It was no accident that S. E. W. A should have started in Ahmedabad, the capital of India's western state of Gujarat, where the trading energy of Britain's East India Company combined with the commercial skill of Ahmedabad's prudent merchants to make the city a center not just of the textile trade but also of union activity.'

'The Self-Employed Woman's Association was founded in 1952. Today S. E. W. A's bank in Ahmedabad boasts twenty-five thousand savings account, owned by its thirty thousand members.'


S. E. W. A. menjadi contoh cara berdikari bagi yang miskin di seluruh dunia:
' One such imitation was formed in New Delhi by six women working in different ares of craft development, enraged that the unique skills and art forms which are the glory o India's handicrafts had been reduced over the years to unusable bric-a-brac sold on city pavements by ignorant middlemen eager to exploit the tourist and ethnic markets. The women called this organization as Dastkar, one who works with his hands, and their goal was the continued employment of craftsmen who were losing their livelihoods to factory-made products. Dastkar was aware that craft is still India's India's second largest employer after agriculture.'

Kenyataan in oleh Gita Mehta memalukan AH LONG di negara kita:

'Now I knew the price of human life in India. Indeed, one stark analysis of bonded labour by the Indian School of Social Sciences showed just how much you could get for your money. In a single northern village Farmer Minu had borrowed Rs. 500 ( US$14 ) to buy food and was sstill working off the interest on his debt after seventeen years. Famer Nanda had borrowed Rs. 100 ( US$3 ) for food and had already laboured without wages for twelve years. Farmer Sukha had worked ten years for a loan of Rs. 20 ( 75 cts ) to buy a wooden box.'

Satu peristiwa yang dikisahkan oleh Gita Mehta memberi gambaran mengenai pandangan seorang Astrologer atau Soothsayer mengenai apa yang lebih baik bagi seorang pelancung jutawan dari Australia:

'I watched a personable young fruit and vegetable millionaire from Australia have his future told. He was surprised by the astrologer's accurate reading of his past, thrilled to learn that he hadn't yet plateau-ed.

'But greater success is yet to come,' the soothsayer shouted in delights, staring at the horoscope he had cast. 'You will change direction into new paths of great wealth. More remunerative than your present business even.'

'What will I be doing?' the Australian millionaire enquired eagerly.

'Have no fears, sir. Soon you will become a, a ......'

Twenty of us waited, holding our breath.

'A money-lender!' the astrologer announced triumphantly, dismissing fruit and vegetable fortunes as slim pickings compared to the wealth to be had from loan-sharking, which lifted a man into the rarefied world inhabited by the truly rich.'


Mengenai dasar ekonomi India Gita Mehta menulis:

'In the thirties a European journalist once asked Mahatma Gandhi, 'How can I understand India?'

'Study her villages,' Gandhi replies. It was an obvious answer. After all, three quarters of India lived in villages.

Seterusnya Gita Mehta menyatakan:

'Indeed, as early as 1951 Prime Minister Nehru's Government had passed a resolution limiting the amount of land any individual could own. Farmers had to 'personally' cultivate their fields and 'accept the whole risk' of cultivation. Excess land would be bought by the government and sold cheap to tenant farmers, who would form co-operatives to prevent fragmentation.'

'The resolution succeeded in redistributing feudal holdings - but not to debt-laden migrant workers or subsistence farmers. It was the moderately prosperous farmer and the ubiquitous money-lender, claiming that he underwrote 'the whole risk' of farming, who had the money to take advantage of the reforms - and of all the resources the Government was pumping into the countryside.'

''As Mahatma Gandhi said, we should have studied our villages. But our city-bred planners did not do so. Now, instead of being exploited by large landlords, our landless labourers were being exploited b small landlords, their condition deteriorating as the price of farming increased.'

'By the seventies urban India learnt its errors. Rural India had become politically conscious.

'In 1979 one million farmers marched on Delhi.'

Mengikut Gita Mehta:

'Although Sarojini Naidu, the indomitable woman who was Gandhi's companion in so many of the great non-violent adventures which ended the British Raj, had once observed that it cost Indians a lot to keep Gandhi poor.

'Twenty years later we would understand Sarojini Naidu's perspicacious comment when our economy remained stuck at the dismal low dismissed disparagingly by our economists as the Hindu rate of growth. Then we would admit that the austerities enforced on us by the errors of central planning had proved even more expensive for the nation than Mahatma Gandhi's poverty.'

Gita Mehta menulis:

'Still, we did have one thing the flashy Pakistani students lacked. The Prime Minister of India was an Honorary Doctor of Cambridge University. Because of Nehru we affected contempt for what India's planners called 'luxury goods'. We would eschew luxury goods for cheap goods which we could make ourselves. We would nationalize a lot of our industries. We would regulate what was left.'

'We would ignore the alarmed voices raised in India's Parliament against this ideological posturing. 'A country which loses sixty per cent of its water every year through mismanagement cannot afford ideology,' those voices thundered. But we were living in the age of ideology, the very heart of a Cold War that pitted social justice against ruthless capitalism, and we wore our poverty with pride.'

'After all, it was the heyday of Nehru's socialism. He had been honoured by one of the most respected academies in the world. And he was One of Us.' ( Us refers to Indian Students from Cambridge University )

'It took a new Prime Minister, Shastri, to notice that our obsession with state industry was too expensive. More than factories, Indian needed to eat. Perhaps the fortunes we were borrowing to import food might be better spent helping Indian farmers to grow food. After all, in the vast sweep of the Indo-Gangetic basin we has the most extensively cultivated alluvial plain in the world. Further south we had the fertile volcanoes soil of the great Deccan plateau. Actually, we had as much cultivatable land as China without China's population, and a population density even today only slightly higher than Germany's, much lower than Japan's, leading the American Overseas Development Council to acknowledge 'India has a natural endowment for food production very close to that of the United States.'

'Prime Minister Shastri chose a propitious moment to turn India's focus back to agriculture. It was the sixties and world scientists had achieved a breakthrough in crop production - high-yielding hybrid seeds for wheat and rice, the two staple foods of Indians.'

'It was the beginning of the Green Revolution.'

'Once it was the dream of educated Indians to be hired by government - government jobs meant a steady income and no one was ever fired. The dreams are changing. A feeling is in the air; government jobs are going to get leaner and less secure, while the private sector is expanding and paying higher salaries.

'There used to be a joke about the state of Kerala, which produces a vast number of government clerks because it has the highest literacy rate in the country. Its politically conscious population are often communists.'

'So someone asks a person from Kerana, 'Are you a capitalist or a Marxist?'

'I'm a typist,' he replies.

'No one wants to be a typist any more. The ugly Indian shopping complexes were once crammed with one-room typing schools. Now they are bursting with computer schools, evidence of the hunger for learning and self-improvement that typify the Indian.'

'Indians are nothing if not canny. They can sense that the wind is now blowing from another direction, and there's money to be had in the change.'

'Five years ago ( 1992 ) only five thousand Indians were working in computers. Today ( 1997 ) a quarter of a million Indians are busy producing computer software which is used around the world, bought by the Fortune Five Hundred Companies. Tomorrow electronics might well employ five hundred thousand people - our youngest industry is also among our fastest growing, already exporting a billion dollars' worth of electronic goods every year.


1 comment:

Zulfadhli Al Fahmi said...

Ayahanda, Zulfadhli Fahmi ni.. Oh inikah buku yang anakanda lihat ayahanda pegang di TwinTower Petronas tu.. InsyaAallah anakanda akan membacanya.. Kagum pada ayahanda sudi memberi sinopsis penting buku tu dalam blog ni..