Our late Prime Minister, Mr. Raja Gandhi often talked of taking India in to the 21st century. He was very optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of India and his faith and optimism were quite well founded.
But, unfortunately, he was not destined to lead the country into the new century. He wanted to shape the destiny of India but did not know about his own tragic and untimely end. It sounds ironical, but in no way does it lessen his faith, hope, optimism and dynamism about the future of the country. Physically he is no more with us but his ideals, optimism, faith, enthusiasm and dynamism are with us. He symbolized the country’s youth and bright future and continues to live in the form of young men and women of India. What is important is the spirit and it never dies. Judging from the winds of change sweeping across, a fair and some sure future image of the country can easily be formed. In order to imagine the future image of the country, it is essential that we review the major trends, events and happenings in the past few decades, because future projections cannot be made correctly by ignoring present events and past happenings.
The past, the present and the future present a logical time-sequence. They are like links of the same chain. As a result of rapid and radical advancement in the fields of science, technology, medicine, and agriculture, many changes of far reaching significance have taken place during the last two-three decades. Atomic energy has been harnessed and space and time have been conquered to some extent. With the help of supersonic aeroplanes, the barrier of sound has been crossed, and now we can travel at tremendous speeds. Peoples and countries have come closer in terms of time and distance and the world looks like one big country, marked by pleasant diversities. Man has landed on the moon, and space laboratories have become a reality.
The ominous clouds of the Cold War, threatening world peace and harmony, have receded. The wide use of computers and super-computers has revolutionised our life. In the field of entertainment, television and audio systems have transformed life completely. People have become better aware of issues like family planning, child and woman-welfare and have begun to accept the norm of a small, planned family. General awareness about ecology and environment is also on the increase. Many diseases, previously regarded as fatal, have now been controlled and eradicated, but diseases like cancer and AIDS have raised their ugly and deadly heads. On the basis of these developments, we look forward to a promising new era, with occasional gloom and despair. In the coming years and decades, life in India will certainly be more convenient, comfortable and easy but real happiness and contentment will be scarcer.
With the increased use of modern gadgets and devices, working, learning, communication and transportation will become easier, quicker, more comprehensive and less time-consuming. Man will become more and more materialistic, comfort-loving and competitive. Religion will be further pushed into the background and many of the present-day superstitions will be eliminated. People will have more leisure and spare time and so traveling and sightseeing will become more popular. The coming years will bring greater industrial, economical, scientific and technological developments and India will be one of the leading lights in these areas. Consumerism will have a rapid growth and there will be many more new luxury items and consumer durables. Many items, which are now considered a luxury, will not be as then as they will become ordinary things of daily domestic use.
Farm technology will be further improved and food- production will increase. Consequently, there will be no shortage of food items, edible oils, vegetables and dairy products. Thus, there will be a marked improvement in the living standards of the people in general. They will be comparatively better off than they are at present. Many of the present towns will change into big cities and centres of trade and business. As far as our population is concerned, it will perhaps surpass that of China in the coming years. At present, our population is over one billion, approximately one-sixth of the world population.
Consequently, there will be pressure on our land, water and power resources. Housing and shelter will remain a serious problem. By the year 2020, metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai will become huge urban excrescence as a major portion of each of them will be covered by juggins and slums for want of adequate housing facilities. A few decades hence, India will emerge as a more powerful, strong, united and leading nation and, as such, will play a far more deciding and vital role in international affairs, especially in those of the U.N.
and other world bodies. In the coming decades, secularism will prevail and people will become more tolerant, appreciative and broad-minded to one another’s religious faiths and way of living. In the matter of marriage, sex and love, there will be increased liberal outlook and the gap between the two sexes will be further bridged. There will be more frequent cases of separation and divorce.
The size of the family will be further reduced and the number of the old and the aged will rise rapidly. In the same proportion, the population of the children will decrease. Secularism apart, India will remain religious at heart but much of religious observations and formalities will be causalities. The faith of the people will lead to further strengthening of the bonds of nationalism, national integration and unity. The problems of casteism, regionalism and communalism will be solved to a great extent, giving rise to better discipline, progress and a sense of patriotism. Gradually, the regional parties will be erased from the political scene of the country.
The public will be more enlightened and aware about their political and social rights and duties and will exercise far more diligence in the exercise of their votes. People will be proud of being Indians in the real sense of the term and pseudo- patriots along with political gurus, will be exposed. In the coming decades, there will be more cohesiveness, uniformity, unity and integrity than now. The country may even have one civil code for all classes and communities in respect of marriage, etc. These are some of the broad and rough outlines of the future.
On the basis of scientific, technological, social, political and world developments that have taken place in the past, we can only guess. Finer details about what may happen can be left for the future. The 21st century in itself is a very big period and the changes that will take place during these long years will be far more radical, fast, astonishing and unpredictable than those of the last century. Thus, only the coming decades will show the exact shape of things and events to come. There are thousands of things and possibilities which cannot be visualized at this point of time. One thing is certain.
The future of our country is bright, hopeful, assuring and such as would inspire confidence, faith and optimism. But we must exert our best to make it doubly sure. Let us resolve to march ahead into the 21st century with confidence, fortitude, hope, courage and determination to face the new challenges of the new century. India as a nation has vast human and material resources at its command to scale new heights and establish new records in space technology, computer science, and exploitation of non-conventional energy, the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, genetic engineering, biotechnology, micro-electronics and a host of other related fields of human activity.