Tuesday, January 26, 2010

60 years of the Indian Republic

60 years of the Indian Republic today. We do have a lot to feel proud of. Two years ago, when we celebrated our 61st year of independence, I wrote this piece on 61 years of aspiration. Yes, we do have our problems and issues, vis-a-vis all-round development, all-inclusive growth, corruption, population, caste differences, etc etc. But the hope remained. Since we are a young nation, we have a lot to learn and a long way to go. We are very very early on the learning curve and as classical global economics says, the lesser developed you are, the faster you grow (the concept applies to capital accumulated by a country, and I choose to extend it to development as well).

We have made a mark in several areas. We have won accolades in the international arena for our deft manner of handling the economic crisis. Our financial systems have been robust. When the world around us was crumbling like a tower of cards, we showed a minor dip in GDP growth, still clocking 7.9% when a greater part of the world reeled in negative growth numbers. We won 2 Oscars last year, won an Olympic Gold and we also reached the moon. Over the past 60 years, we have never had a miscarriage of democracy, with the only attempt during the emergency being cruelly punished in the subsequent election. Our democracy continues to be our strong point, with the world having more faith in the Indian story primarily because ideologically, our country risk is a lot lesser.

But we still have a lot of ground to cover. We are the only stable peaceful nation in South Asia, and that puts us in a precarious position, with our neighbors being consumed by the tentacles of terror. Our own peace and safety were very cruelly jolted in 2008, with the terror attacks in Mumbai. The perpetrators have still not been brought to book. Sardar Patel, all of 60 years ago went on a mission to integrate all our princely states and built an India. Now again, separatist movements are raising their ugly heads, demanding a separate Telengana, a separate Gorkhaland, and now UP apparently should be trifurcated! When I was in school there were 25 states and 7 union territories. At this rate of fragmentation, I hope we don't say that India is x countries, y states and w territories. All inclusive growth is still all elusive, and the repercussions of the same are train hijacks, maoist attacks and demands at gun point. We still have the dubious record of hosting Asia's largest slum, and we take morbid pleasure in this pain point, by indulging in 'slum tourism' - disgusting indeed.

This post might look pessimistic, with the paragraph on issues being larger than that on achievements. But that is not true. If anything, we Indians believe in optimism and given that by 2050, India's average age of population would only by 35, ours is indeed a young country with stars in her eyes and an ebullient enthusiasm to match. Yes, the path is fraught with challenges, but we will surpass them all and emerge developed!


ஹரிஹரன்ஸ் said...

My dear, though I agree with everything what you have expressed (what a change!!), I would say that we are grown and developed only when the interests of common people are taken care. Good infrastructure, clean air, undultrated food, shelter, education, law and order for the common, uplift of poor etc. That too with less corruption. I am sure you would have visited many villages and seen where we are...

Are we anywhere near?

Sindhu Subramaniam said...

Whoa! I am definitely surprised that you agree. And my answer like I've said in the last paragraph is a resounding NO. I have visited enough and more villages to know that all-inclusive growth is still very elusive. Basic infrastructure is still lacking. The divide between the rich and the poor in a city like Mumbai is glaring.

We have a looooooong way to go before we can sit back and enjoy our successes. But we are young and we can get there. It took the USA 233 years to prove to the world the power of her democracy. We are but 60 years old and we can definitely get to the utopian world of equality, growth, cleanliness (environemental and governmental), basic amenities and so on. And we will.