I was distant and lost in my thoughts, as the frenzied debate going on in the front portion of our BBA class room, moderated by Mr. Raymond Simon, the class teacher who was notorious for tossing chalk shards on those who are sitting detached and misplaced in their thoughts, as the said debate theme was something “not of my kind and over my head” . When one on those flying chalks got hit on my eye brows, slightly missing the target by one inch, I paid attention to the debate that is going on for last 33 minutes. My class mates, Fazil and Pradeep were deeply spoiled in some heated dialogue on a topic called “liberalisation” where Fazil seems to be decrying the concept of liberalization as if he has some rivalry towards Mr. Manmohan Singh. But Pradeep , who is one of the promising students of our class, shoulder his position in favour of that “Liberalisation” and evidently supported Mr. Manmohan Singh. Being completely clueless about the topic of discussions and identity of Mr. Manmohan Singh, I simply went back to my thoughts and sat there looking through the window of our classroom, where I could see the small hut like pan-shop of Biju from where we were having our usual Gold spot and cupcakes during the recess.
On the first ring of the recess bell, I rushed to the pan-shop without disturbing anyone in the class who got mesmerized in the debating skills of Fazil and Pradeep, to grab my cupcakes and “Gold Spot”. But to my dismay, I could not find my preferred mango flavored “Gold Spot” over there, in its place could find only a dark brown colored glass bottle with “Coca Cola” written on its sides. Though I was not at all aware about the liberalization till that point time, I tasted the effect of liberalization for the first time in my life and slowly forgot by good old companion “Gold Spot”, forever.
While sipping my Cola with the lot of pride along with a cupcake, I could not trust my eyes, when a white -colored car, as in English movies, came from distance and passed me in a twitch before I could barely read “Daewoo” written on the boot of the same. It was a great treat for the eyes of those who standing there tasting the sip-ups, as all of them including me, had seen only Ambassadors and its luxurious counterpart Contessa , apart from Premier Padmini and Maruti 800, till then before seeing the magnanimity of Daewoo. Though I was not aware about the pros and cons of liberalization, I saw the effect of liberalization on Indian roads for the first time in my life.
Few months later, precisely on September, 17, 1996, I overheard, Mr. Suraj, a front bencher, Hindu English newspaper addict and the recognized nerd of my class, talking about launch of the Cellular Service in Kerala and got surprised to know about the exorbitant rates the “Escotel” and “BPL” is going to charge on incoming calls by its users. Few weeks later, the “Escotel” people came to our campus and interviewed few bright candidates for marketing their products. Thanks to my English proficiency and General Knowledge, I was not even ranked first from the last in those “campus selection”. Those days, people were considering the Landline Connection as a status symbol and I was pretty sure that, with those huge rates, Cellular Service companies shall taste the mud sooner. I felt bit ashamed for making such a conclusion in haste when I recently read about a report stating that the total number of cellular connections in India as on date is 1.15 Billon!.
Years passed by!. Today we are in the jungle of gadgets talking about digital India, boasting about moving to 5G, living on artificial intelligence, attending classes and meetings through Zoom and Google Meet, replacing our kitchen with Swiggy and Zomatoa, booking taxis through Ola and Uber, travelling in most sophisticated vehicles, buying apparels from Myntra, shopping through Amazon and Flipkat, etc. as part of our day today life. We are now in a World where internet is in demand over oxygen!.
It may be an irony that the BJP, who initially objected the Telecom revolution of Rajiv Gandhi, is now promoting the Digital India and the CPM, who objected the agricultural reforms and computerisation, are now holding the flagpost of eGovernance. I am sure that, after another fifteen years, when I sit with my tab to write about the impact of new farmers act on the agrarian community, I shall not feel ashamed about the stand which I had taken now in favour of the said pro farmer legislation.
Everything is subject to change, whether it is good or bad. If you are unable to cope up with the change, you can do nothing but be amused to see the impact of that on your mind, thoughts and deeds over a period of time.
BIJOY P PULIPRA