“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” said the first prime minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Yes, we were free and independent from the people who ruled us for 200 years. The freedom struggle was long and a difficult one. Our forefathers had sacrificed a lot of blood, aspirations, and lives for what we are today. I wish you all a very happy Independence day. This day is very special for every Indian irrespective of the community we belong to.
Talking about independence, it was an outcome of multiple stakeholders ranging from Mangal Pandey who lit the ignition of 1857 revolt; Rani Lakshmi Bai, Annie Besant; social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Grand Old man of India Dadabhai Naoroji; the trio LAL-BAL-PAL; revolutionaries like Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose; the Gandhian Camp along with Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and many more. The list is never-ending if one starts counting. It was the collective effort of all the freedom fighters which helped colonial India become Independent.
India was born as a start-up in which frankly, nobody was interested in providing an Angel Funding. With a huge population and diversity, the pioneers of the world said India would not be a successful country and will disintegrate into chunks of small nations soon. On the contrary, here we stand, a country with the longest constitution of the world which hasn’t failed even once; a country with the fastest growing and the 5th largest economy of the world. Once India was a huge finished good exporting country but the colonialists slowly converted us to a mere exporter of raw materials. All the finances and expenditures of the colonial government were paid from the Indian revenues. Dadabhai Naoroji coined this as a theory of the Drain of wealth.
India was an agricultural economy in the 1950s, from being pathetically dependent on the USA for food grains to the largest food supplier of the world, our agricultural economy has outgrown. A lot of this is credited to our former PM Lal Bahadur Shashtri for unleashing the path of the Green revolution. Even today, Indian is one of the few countries where most of the subsidies and government schemes are related to the development of farmers and agriculture. Politically, there have been numerous reforms ranging from empowering local bodies(Panchayati Raj Institutions/Urban Local bodies) towards more decentralized governance; inclusive development considering Civil society organizations as major stakeholders, and more. There have been numerous reforms for the socio-economic development of the socially and economically backward classes of SC/ST/OBCs establishing equality in the society. Judiciary has played a major role in giving equal status and opportunities to women and other sections of the society by landmark verdicts like decriminalization of section 377 of IPC(LGBTQ community), scrapping of section 497 of IPC(Adultery), women’s claim in parental property and more.
In the global world, India’s stature has risen from being a neglected one to a major pillar in international politics. Recently India was also elected for the non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council. Since the cold war era, India has followed a non-alignment policy(NAM) due to which it is called the voice of poor and developing countries. Countries look up to India for major reforms in the UNSC and global forums. From FATF’s grey list to protecting the borders from neighbors the world sees India as a major voice of Asia countering neo colonialistic policies.
In the field of technology, India has achieved a lot too. Major contributions of ISRO and DRDO like manufacturing indigenous weapons, being a nuclear power, major space missions like Mars Orbiter Mission, and Chandrayaan, the technological industry has grown. India has developed a huge IT sector, which has helped in the development of new generation technologies like the Internet of things, Artificial Intelligence. Thanks to technology due to which we are actually able to survive during the pandemic.
India has also emerged as an important player in the management of COVID19. In spite of having a low expenditure on health, India has been able to keep the fatalities as low as 1.96% and a recovery rate of 70.76% until now. With a population of more than a billion and high population density, it is actually not easy to keep the numbers this low. India has helped other nations by providing essential medical equipment like PPEs, ventilators, and hydroxychloroquines.
Where do we lag and need reforms:
In spite of so many reforms in agriculture, we hear a lot about farmer suicides and poor ranking in the global hunger index(102/117). More reforms have to be done for promising a better socio-economic future for our farmers. The government should focus on Direct benefit transfers, elimination of intermediaries, promoting livestock farming, aquaculture, and other allied sectors for doubling the farmer’s income. With high levels of malnourishment, more has to be done towards food security. Talking about the weaker sections, “Most of the persons who are engaged in manual scavenging, unfortunately, more than 95% of them belong to the weaker sections“. Are those people the only ones who need to bear this responsibility? Think!
In the society we live which is still patriarchal, we hear frequently about critical issues like rape and domestic violence. Now is the time for gearing up from Women Development to Women-led Development. Gender equity has to be established in society by increasing the role of women in every aspect may it be technology, governance, or education. The New Education Policy has to focus on the holistic empowerment of the youth, the taboo about sex education has to be eliminated. If a parent wants her girl to be safe, strong and empowered, they also have to make sure they are imparting the same knowledge to their sons.
The political empowerment of India would be mature when voting behavior is changed. The vote base has to improve. That one vote matters a lot in our vibrant diverse democracy. Communal harmony has to be maintained by the development of scientific temperament(as said by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Dadabhai Naoroji). In Bhagavad Geeta, Lord Krishna says that religion guides an individual for better code and conduct of life and it has to be updated/modified with changing times. Secularism is one of the core philosophies of our constitution and it has to be sustained with peace and harmony.
In spite of the political tussles between the centre and state governments in our country, the fight towards the novel Corona Virus marks a hall of fame for Cooperative federalism, which the fathers of our constitution aspired for. May it be the wars, famines, communal riots, natural/manmade disasters or politicization of sensitive issues, we as a nation have outperformed every time. In the end, on this day of independence, we must promise to give our future generations a society which is empowered-socially, economically, politically and technologically, where we rank top in the gross happiness rankings, culturally diverse and last but not the least we are united and integrated as always.
Former PM late Atal Bihari Vajpayee once said, “SATTA KA KHEL TO CHALEGA, SARKAREIN AAYEGI … JAAYENGI… PARTIYAN BANEGI… BIGADEGI… MAGAR YE DESH CHALTA REHNA CHAHIYE, IS DESH KA LOKTANTRA AMAR RAHNA CHAHIYE”.