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|February 20, 1998||
'I am keen to know what riches and happiness mean'Bharatiben Pandya, 65, housewife, Rajkot
I do not know what to say. Really, what do you mean by expectations? I am a simple Indian from a lower middle-class family living in a remote area of Saurashtra. But I have noticed that people's expectations are hardly ever fulfilled by politicians or other leaders.
I have spent half of my life in a village and the rest in a developing city like Rajkot. I am not very educated -- I have studied only up to Standard VI -- but I can see that our leaders only interested in personal fame and gain. I don't mind that, but it certainly hurts when they do it at the cost of the public's well-being and by taking them for a ride.
Yet, I still expect -- without much hope -- that they will learn to care for the people who elect them. They should visit villages and towns from time to time without their henchmen and in some kind of disguise. Only then will they get the real picture of India, and it is not a pleasant one.
Otherwise, when leaders visit certain places, their henchmen plan and organise things in such a manner that they don't seen the existing reality or the problems. Like Mahatma Gandhi, I am of the opinion that true India lives in its villages. I think it will continue to be so even in the next century.
I had seen Gandhiji when I was a child and still have a faint memory of that crowded function. Till then, I had only heard about him. Just looking at him and hearing his voice gave me hope for India's bright future. But, as I grew older, my dreams were shattered.
I wanted to study but, as one of the 10 children of a village priest, it was just not possible. I was married to another village priest, who worked very hard to provide for his six brothers since his father died at a very early age.
I became a mother, and a mother-in-law. But I am still keen to know what riches and happiness mean. Maybe, this is the lot of most illiterate women in India. Our leaders should do something about them.
As told to Haresh Pandya
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