We survived 75 years! A lot of progress made, but a lot of promises yet to keep. While the challenges always seem insurmountable, personally I am very hopeful that we can fix some of the big problems in the coming years. Here are 25 ideas I would like to find solutions for in the next 25 years. This is highly biased list based on my own life experiences!
1. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens
Thousands of economic migrants of all ages, from young children to old people, keep coming to the cities, escaping the crushing poverty of rural areas. These migrants need places to sleep and food while they find their feet. We could use government schools which are empty in the nights to double up as night shelters and soup kitchens. Governments could hire an army of people to maintain these shelters and kitchens.
2. Affordable public transport
Our cities are clogged with narrow lanes and choking traffic. The way to unlock this is to ensure affordable and high quality public transport. Not only cities, our long distance trains and buses also run overcapacity. To truly unlock our potential, we should invest heavily in public transport.
3. World class education
Education opens up the world for people and introduces them to modernity. We need great schools and colleges all over the country so that our youth can not only learn the skills they need to prosper but also create capacity for new products and services
4. Public parks
At least 25% of our urban spaces should be made of public parks. Public parks are not only where people can go and relax but also where they are also non-commercial spaces where people can meet fellow citizens. A lot of prime area in our cities and towns are held by government offices. They should be moved to the outskirts and their spaces converted into parks. For new townships, a minimum of 25% of land use has to be for public parks.
5. Mass electrification and renewable energy
Large majority of our energy needs must be fulfilled with renewable energy and most of our local needs like transportation should be electrified. By reducing burning of fossil fuels, we will also reduce air and water pollution.
6. Inheritance Tax
While I am generally in favour of lower direct taxes, a country like India should have an effective inheritance tax. This will not only make our society more equal but make sure that a large amount of private wealth will end up in trusts.
7. Digital rights
As more and more of our lives move “online”, citizens must have right to both unrestricted access to learn, trade and entertain and privacy that must be ensured by all service providers.
8. Right to peace and quiet
Too often our public spaces are taken hostage by private, religious and political groups with loud music and insensitive blockage of roads. Everyone has a right to a peaceful night’s sleep and no group should be allowed to hijack it.
9. Producer responsibility
We don’t pay for the entire lifecycle costs of the goods and services we use and that makes us irresponsible consumers. We must ensure that the producer responsibility extends to the entire lifecycle of the product including safe disposal.
10. Ban advertisement in public places
Advertisements in public places like roads (billboards) and highways is not only ugly but also a forced consumption and pollution. Public spaces should be as non commercial as possible and advertisement (commercial and political) should be severely restricted.
11. Inner party democracy
Most political parties in India are run as fiefdoms with “high command” and nominated leaders. True democracy can only come if the political parties themselves become democratic and allow for new leaders to come up with better ideas. All national party candidates should be elected by their members.
12. Autonomy for Kashmir Valley
The Kashmir Valley is a massive blot on human rights in India and the people of the valley must be allowed to live normal lives. While a more lasting political solution is reached, we must allow for effective autonomy for Kashmiri people so they can get on with their lives.
13. Administration should be run by professionals
Currently the government is run by civil servants who are trained specially for these jobs. The world is changing so rapidly that this seems unnecessary and is a blocker for better administration. Government jobs must become like any other professional job where people with skills can apply laterally.
14. Repeal Citizenship Amendment Act
The Citizenship Amendment Act is an unjust law that seeks to define citizenship based on religious preferences. It is unconstitutional and should be cancelled.
15. Uniform Civil Law
All Indians must follow the same laws and the current set of civil laws that are based on religious codes should be scrapped.
16. More small businesses
Small business are more responsive to local needs and environmentally friendly. With information freely available, we need to make it easier for people to run small business for day to day needs.
17. Minimum wages
We need an effective minimum wage that ensures the dignity for each individual, irrespective of the job they do.
18. Quality revolution
Indians should have a sense of pride in their craftsmanship and this can happen if there is a national movement to raise the quality standards of the goods produced in this country
19. Creative philanthropy
India is a massively unequal country with some of the world’s richest people living right beside some of the world’s poorest. I would like to see rich Indians take strides in investing back in the society that gave them so much in their own way using both their money and talent.
20. Zero emission
As the world creaks from billions of humans who are living out their dreams on this planet, we need to ensure that we leave this planet habitable for the future inhabitants of the planet, both human and animal. For that the Indian economy should become zero emission as soon as possible
21. More people writing books
We need more people telling stories and novels about India, banking on our varied and deep cultural experience living in this country. We need more historians, anthropologists, economists and novelists. The story of India is unwritten and the opportunity exists for us to write it.
22. Fusion art
India has always been a culture that has adopted new ideas and influences while keeping the essence of its own identity, we need to renew our cultural promise to continue to do the same.
23. Break free from old ideas
Too many Indians are wedded to old ideas that have no relevance in the world of today. We should be questioning everything that is given to us in the name of “tradition”.
24. Scientific Temperament
Science and discovery has changed our world beyond measure in the past few decades and this has been done because we have embraced a scientific mindset where we ask questions rather than come up with answers. India needs more people to think scientifically rather than in a narrow minded manner
Indian culture has always been very open ended and tried to embrace the entire universe in its philosophy. Of late we have become too “absolutist” with each group of people promoting their set of ideas and shutting down others. We need India to re-embrace this universalist mindset that makes us truly unique.