Imagine… It’s 2020 and things have changed in India. There’s a little girl coming out of her house. Let’s go along with her and see for ourselves how the India of the future is.
She steps outside, into the pleasant evening, her little hair flying as she skipped along the pavement. And as she skipped, a jingle of coins could be heard from inside her pocket. She goes to a shop, buys a lollipop. She tears the wrapper, puts it in a dustbin and licking her lolly, she continues to walk through the streets. As she went, she didn’t have to close her nose as vehicles crossed her. In fact, her nose wasn’t bothered at all… there were no open drains or piled up garbage or open-air fish markets or even those pesky junkyard dogs/cows. She went happily, concentrating only on her candy in hand.
She came to a bridge and went on it, with no real intention or idea as to where she was going. When she crossed the bridge, she looked down at the stream and peered into the crystal clear water. But she didn’t even seem to notice the water’s purity. She simply straightened her cute pink hat, on seeing her reflection and continued on her way, licking her candy. On the way, she crossed the road at the zebra crossing just for the fun of seeing the cars pause for her. She skipped off and walked along another street. There, she stopped near a humble-looking house, to throw the finished lollipop stick into the bin. That time, she overheard the lady of the house saying to her husband how she had won the case against some rich and powerful man who had been involved in some offense. She also talked about how just 10 years earlier, such fast judgments against such influential persons had been almost impossible. The girl starting to get confused with all the legal terms, decided to walk on.
The little lass began to hum her favorite rhyme and saw a couple of teenagers in their school uniforms in buses, heading to their schools with bright and cheerful faces. As she saw them, she waved and they waved back, laughing at how adorable the little one was, in her pink dress and hat. Overjoyed at being recognized by her bigger counterparts, she started to skip along the lane once more, till she reached a statue. It was that of a skinny and frail boy with unkempt hair and pitiful eyes. He held a bent plate in his hand, and was gesturing his stomach, with tears in his eyes. The small girl was filled with curiosity and something akin to horror as she saw this statue standing there. As she lingered there, she heard another little one say, “Ma, why is that boy so sad?” to which the child’s mother explained about the history of poverty and begging and how it had been eradicated half a decade ago.
The girl went on, but no more skipping, as her heart was heavy and her mind buzzing about that statue. She had never seen any child like that before. She walked on and came across a store displaying television sets. All sets were tuned to some news channel and she watched the newsreader discussing with some politician cordially about the recent reforms he had introduced. Understanding little, she proceeded further and reached a park. She saw there, a girl talking to her friend about how she had taken archaeology as a career and why she had chosen so. In another bench, a few boys were discussing the recent successes of the Indian hockey team. Seeing no bench for her to sit on, she went over to the swings and glided to and fro, enlivened by all the greenery around.
Soon, the sun was starting to set and she decided to head back home for playing with her li’l friends from the neighborhood. But she had forgotten which way she came. She looked around. Everything seemed different in the dim light of the dusk. Just when she was about to begin howling in panic, someone called, “Are you lost, little girl?” She looked up and saw a man in khaki uniform looking at her concernedly. Relieved to see a police man, she skipped over to him and sobbed that she was lost; assuming her puppy dog eyes, as she usually did when she was in some trouble.
Eventually, she reached home, with the cop by her side, looking as cheerful as she had been when she had set out. She thanked her rescuer and hopped into the house like a cute little bunny rabbit back to its burrow.