I wake up to the clear blue sky, the glorious rising sun on the first day of 2047, and look around to admire the product of our hard work and determination. For 25 years, we have lived by the slogan, 'Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.' And finally, we have achieved our destination, where a strong foundation for a great nation is in place; the foundation, rock-solid in more ways than one.
I put on my sneakers to go for a walk. A few minutes in, I spot middle-school students engaged in lively discussions with their teacher. Today, children look forward to going to school, keen to know what new wonders the teacher will unfold before them.
In front of me, students are divided into three groups, each playing different roles judge-criminal -society, doctor-patient-relatives, and mason-builder-residents. These experiential learning techniques drive home the value of professional prowess and integrity apart from sensitizing them to expressing opinions and participating in public affairs.
Students explore their passions, debate real-world problems, and develop the relevant skills to solve them. I also notice the difference in higher education, which has become more about pursuing one's dreams.
Today excellence is not restricted to only a few institutions like the IITs or the AIIMS. Most colleges have a world-class faculty, excellent resources, and a collaborative learning environment that encourages innovation and creativity, replacing the culture of cut-throat competition. For instance, engineering is not confined to teaching the use of existing technologies alone.
It also makes students understand the needs of the present systems and enables them to design and build appropriate technologies while envisaging future requirements.
There is work for everyone, as people do jobs that suit their interests and skills. Industry clusters have set up specific skill development centers to develop the mandatory skills for the positions. In addition, enterprises — big and small — are thriving, carrying out socially-conscious business practices. I decide to turn left towards the athletic grounds and go for a light jog.
Sports at every level are encouraged – individual games to team sports, both traditional and present day Olympic Games.
Every district is equipped with world-class sports training facilities and coaches. School clubs regularly compete locally for District Championship titles. Those champions then graduate to compete at the State level and then at the Nationals. As a result, we have an excellent pool of sportspersons in almost every game.
Today, India ranks among the top three countries in its tally of Olympic medals.
The other day, I went to the citrus fruit orchards for a stroll. The breezy fragrance of the medicinal herbs soothed my nerves. Who would believe that place used to be a dumping site?
A social forestry initiative has replaced the stinking mounds of waste. The land has been reclaimed through bioremediation.
Our country's per capita waste generation has gone down from half a kilogram to mere fifty grams – ten times the reduction achieved in just five years — thanks to the waste being segregated and recycled. Hardly anything goes to the landfill.
Our city was the first to be declared zero-waste 10 years ago. Soon after, all other cities in the state embarked on the reduce, recycle and reuse strategy, with 100 per cent waste segregation. We are now a zero-waste state.
The union fund allocation and the business investments depend on the Clean-Green index of the states and the cities in turn. So all the states and municipalities engaged in a healthy collaboration to establish localized composting pits, gave up the 'use and throw' economy, replaced plastics with biodegradable alternatives, and used every spec of land to plant fruit orchards and indigenous trees.
As a result, 40 per cent of India is under forest cover. We can find dense multi-layered jungles in the heart of a city, acting as carbon sinks. People have imbibed a strong sense of cleanliness to avoid littering and wastage.
Our rivers gush with fresh water, and our city lakes and village ponds blossom with lotus, flutter with water birds, and offer beautiful public spaces. Once again, tigers throng our wildlife sanctuaries, and sparrows chirp at our doorstep.
As I exit the fields and walk further down the road, I see the solar-powered school buses. Nowadays people either walk or use public transport to commute.
Cities have also built bicycle routes and walkways profusely lined up with shady fruit trees. Buses reach out to almost every part of the city and are technologically advanced. With GPS inbuilt, mobile apps inform the commuters of the availability and accessibility.
Personal automobiles are seldom required. Gradually, air pollution has become a thing of the past. Our air-quality index hovers between 10-50.
Going back in time, I recall writing my debut novel under the hazy night skies. That was just a few decades ago, whereas now we can see stars illuminating the city skyline. Perhaps, this will serve as better inspiration to our upcoming authors.
People are conscious of sound and light pollution as well. The noise levels anywhere in any city do not exceed 40 decibels. Life is quiet and peaceful.
The city streets are lit up automatically between dusk and dawn through localized solar and wind-powered storage batteries, but dimmed light is used — good enough for illumination and conserving energies. At the same time, one can enjoy the starry skies.
We have successfully reinvented our ancient past. Technologies of those eras guide us to build sustainable houses–warm in winters and cool in summers. Solar panels adorn our rooftops. Compost pits are dug in every backyard and garden.
We have paid special attention to health and our dietary constitution. Gradually, we reduced the use of chemical fertilizers and focused on increasing the organic content of the soil.
We even engineered and manufactured biodegradable soil binders that raise water and nutrient retention capacity, increase productivity, and reduce water requirements for agriculture. In this way, we transformed our wastelands into cultivable areas. Simultaneously we introduced agroforestry and large-scale fruit production to meet our food requirements.
Today, our country produces over a thousand varieties of fresh, indigenous fruits and local cereals. Today 80 per cent of our country's population is vegetarian. Our food quality is the best in the world. Not only are we self-sufficient, but we also export huge amounts to the rest of the world. Moreover, we openly share our sustainable food production technologies.
Just then, a woman cycling down the pathway waved at me. She must be on her way to work. Over the years, we have evolved as a just, inclusive, harmonious society.
All working-age genders are employed by choice, following their heart's passion, enhancing enthusiasm in everyday life. Men and women are paid equally for the same work. We have a strong sense of universal brotherhood and endeavor to promote collective growth. We run community kitchens so that no one stays hungry.
Everyone eats healthy, nutritious food, leading a dignified life. We have a universal health insurance program for all citizens, but the paradigm has shifted from curing diseases to encouraging health-seeking behaviors.
The elderly are well-respected and taken care of by their children or adopted by the community. Every home has three generations living together.
People from different religions or castes live harmoniously, with mutual respect, with value education and spiritual growth.
We celebrate bountiful festivals all over the year. Communities come together to help each other in need.
India has successfully arrested its population growth with a well-educated, eco-conscious citizenry. Nowadays, the central focus is socio-environmental sustainability.
Country laws are stringently enforced and feared, but legal action is rarely invoked. Everyone equally understands their rights and duties. Integrity and civic engagement are our core values. As a result, the country has a high happiness index.
Today we celebrate the centenary year of India's Independence. Our leaders had envisioned this land, ‘Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high…Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. ‘I still feel the same patriotic feelings throbbing inside me when our country had decided to implement these radical changes in every sphere of life. Not just humanity, I feel elated to see our flora and fauna in their full glory. Everyday life is a celebration of socio-economic and ecological prosperity. It is only fitting that we hand over this world in a better condition to our children'.
Swami Vivekananda continues to inspire generations to come, “Stand up, Be bold, Be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor that you want are within you."
However, violence, riots, crime against women, corruption, nepotism and failure in judiciary system is spreading like wildfire everywhere in India.
Recent crimes against women, in UP, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Manipur have been reported in all print and electronic media.
The ongoing ethnic clash in Manipur made thousands of people both in valley and hill horrible. Many are displaced and homeless, hundreds of houses have been gutted in fire, many have been killed, women are tortured by security forces every day. Streets are filled with unrest with the voices of women; many are lamenting for their missing near and dear ones.
There is not a single day that sounds of gunshots, moke bomb, teargas shell is not heard. This make my dream of India by 2047 shattered.
(The views expressed are personal)