Last week, S and I found ourselves looking for patches of population within the district of Thanjavur that are not well-served by the Government's public health center network with the intention of setting our organization's health kiosks where it is needed most. As part of that exercise we happened to travel deep into our district. We pretty much traveled on every single road that's visible in the map section above. We traveled on roads that are not charted here too. Here are some of my impressions.
There was something quietly remarkable about this area. While this area was overwhelmingly rural, there were none of the images of abject poverty that you would expect in the hinterlands. If anything there were instances of striking, and at times vulgar, opulence. All the schools were functional and the buildings were in good condition. The roads were in good health. Between all the economic activity we even found a lake that was designated as a bird sanctuary. Admittedly, this is a scene in a well-to-do district in a well-to-do state and we have to guard ourselves from getting too carried away. Moreover, all of this is one anecdotal account and hardly an objective observation. Yet, something seems to be working in this country. However inefficiently, nation building seems to be underway and the results seem to be materializing, albeit slowly.
It's easy to live in a sanitized urban setting and believe too strongly in the "India Shining" narrative. On the other extreme, it's easy to watch all the scams that get unearthed every single morning, afternoon and night and feel hopelessness. The truth, I think, is somewhere in between and it's not all that bad.