Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Independence Day - 61 years of aspiration

Today, 61 years ago, we were freed from the clutches of the British Colonial reign. A momentous achievement indeed for the founders of our nation, who discarded money & a cushy lifestyle, and donned Khadi to be able to live in India ruled by herself. They had stars in their eyes, as they built a nation brick by brick, uniting, educating, employing Indians - Independent sovereign Indians. They dreamt about an India - industrialized, rich, powerful. They dreamt of Indians - united in equality, educated, employed, satisfied, happy.

Today, 61 years later, I am tempted to ask, are we there yet? Are we even a tiny percentage of that yet? Well, not really. We still have discrimination based on caste in the remote rural parts of India. Well, reservation compounds the problem. Reservation is also a form of discrimination, wherein we are embossing the caste divide. We try to wipe out caste differences and the discriminated people try to forget the past, but our vote-mongers cannot allow this to just fade away! Higher education, which has been and will always be our USP as Indians is in serious jeopardy, as we become a politicised population and not a meritocratic population. Female infanticide and foeticide is an evil that looms in remote rural India. Corruption is still sky high. The crude, ugly form. One needs to shell out Rs. 2500 for a Rs 600 activity, in order to feed the corrupt. Our bridges and flyovers take years to get completed. Infrastructure is crippled. Pollution is a threat waiting to raise its ugly head. Terrorists have a field day in India, targeting poor, innocent people, over and over and over again. Inflation is no doubt high as well.

Whew! But then, life is never like driving on an autobahn! We have our issues. But our issues are not as full blown as it is in other countries. Ok, I agree, no comparisons. But well, in 61 years, we have risen from a plundered colony to a future economic superpower. Kudos to Dr Manmohan Singh, who has silently but surely forged India's path to the world. At a time, when India was teetering on debt, we started economic reforms. And now, the Indian railways is the only profit making railway enterprise in the world, in the category of its scale and reach. We still live by our principles. Never once have we made an aggressive move over any other country, but we have succeeded in thwarting 2 such attempts by our 'honorable' neighbors. We are not trailblazers in sport, but we have won some medals. A little nurturing and some time, will take us there. And in all these years, we do have a cricket World Cup, and a T20 World Cup in our fold!

Our strength is in our youth, our people. They, at least most of them aspire to make India proud. One of my friends remarked the other day, that many of his friends in US, who have migrated from India, are open, and sometimes keen to come back, after raking in some moolah. But the same cannot be said of immigrants from say China, or anywhere in Africa. They seemed to have run away, since they could not stand the crime and human rights violations. So, our super educated youth, with a will and a wish, are not averse to coming back and building India. And I have to conclude with one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies - Shawshank Redemption - "Hope is a good thing. Maybe one of the best things. And a good thing never dies." JAI HIND!

1 comment:

nemo said...

I appreciate your honesty about the sense of belongingness. Its natural to feel that way.
I was born and raised in India and now live in US. I am grateful for the priveleges and rights I have had as an Indian citizen. And I love my country for that. But I also love US for the opportunities I get here. As for the culture and the people - I believe that people are the same everywhere and given some familiarity, you get equally comfortable with any culture.
You mentioned about people returning to India. Its only because of the growing economy and often has little to do with patriotism or building the country (unless they are in academia). For the same reason, I dont feel a greater pride when I see fewer Chinese return to China than Indians to India - because given a different history and a different economy, it would have been a different present. Again, people are the same everywhere. Anyway, I cant see how it is going to benefit India in any significant way. There is far more talent in India, than the entire lot of Indians abroad.
That said, I would return to India, if I get better opportunity, a better life. Infact, its not just about India, its wherever I get something better. It sounds selfish but thats how the world works.
With more than half the population under 25, I agree with you about the youth of India being its strength. Incidently, all that work force is what is behind the growing economy of India and what is eventually going to do India a lot of good.
IMHO, patriotism should not be bound by familiarity, rather by experience.