On my this May’s visit to Gorakhpur, an Eastern Uttar Pradesh city where I spent the first 23 years of my life, what welcomed me there amidst many things – usual and unusual –were memories that had been quiescent, with sporadic remissions, but this confrontation with the place – streets, shops, colleges, schools, the University, vendors, hospitals, libraries and above all individuals – brought a somewhat cumulatively animated revival and reminder of the past. A visit to the past makes one judge how far societies have moved; how matured, well-behaved they have become.
During my very infrequent visits to Gorakhpur in the last three decades what impacted me the most was the relevance of the question of transforming human beings in the context of social development. Society grows only when human beings realize the need for transformation, yearn, by all means feasible, for achieving that transformation and are prudent enough to see logic in the steps taken towards such transformation.
Possible places of public rendezvous, where children used to play and old people used to spend their mornings and evenings sharing time together, are no longer empty in Gorakhpur. They are completely and mechanically filled. There is a definite pattern. There are doctors’ clinics, adjacent to which are privately-run hospitals and then coaching centres for the MBBS and JEE exams.
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