The other day, a friend from New Delhi involved Sheru in a discussion on Kashmir. He said that India was a great democracy and had grown considerably since independence as compared to Pakistan.
Sheru tried his best to keep his friend away from the sensitive issue. But he was not ready to listen. He felt sorry for the people of Kashmir, who, according to him had not reaped the fruits of Indian democracy like other Indian states.
Sheru could feel blood rushing into his ears but managed to keep calm.
But the friend from Delhi was in a strange mood. He invited trouble time and again, and finally Sheru’s patience ran out.
When Sheru began, his friend was not able to utter a single word.
Sheru told him that India was home to 43 per cent of the world’s malnourished children. Sheru also told him that 40 per cent of the population had no food to eat, no clothes to wear and no houses to live in. The friend appeared as if he had never come across such figures.
Yes, India can have the world’s biggest manure industry, Sheru told him. He looked pleased, not knowing what was coming.
He was interested in details. Sheru did not want to add to his chagrin, but his friend was adamant.
So, reluctantly, Sheru went on.
According to a recent UN report, 650 million Indians defecate in the open because they have no latrines. If the nightsoil is collected and put to `proper use,’ India can turn out to be the biggest manure manufacturer in the world. All it has to do is to subject the ‘raw material’ to scientific decomposition.
If this is done, fertilizer prices will come down which can boost agricultural production. And once this happens, massive development will follow. This can go a long way in saving a large number of `not-so-precious’ lives across India.
Pertinent to mention here, 7000 people die of starvation every day in India. In other words, 25 lakh people die every year for want of food in a country that claims massive development.
Caught unprepared, the friend fell into a long silence.
Now he will wax eloquent on Pakistan, Sheru sensed him thinking.
But when Sheru launched into an equally pithy description of the sad state of affairs in Pakistan, his Indian friend was at his wit’s end.
“What, in the name of heaven, do you people want?”
“We want neither India nor Pakistan. We want the enforcement of our rights. We want the Government of India to fulfill its promises. We love Pakistan, but we do not hate India. We wish both these countries good luck. But we have every right to be on our own.”