Today, at 64, India stands at the crossroads, and it has been here for a while now. We, as a country, have come a long way and the journey that spluttered and started with conservatism and self-doubt, slowly but eventually took a turn into the land of self-discovery and Indians began to expand their horizons and explore their horizons with confidence and verve. The cocoon was left behind as we all learnt to fly. Inhibitions were shed and we learnt to be take risks. The mostly stagnant, sometimes slow growth of industry, agriculture, trade and infrastructure upto the mid 1980's picked up pace with the economic liberalization of India in 1991. Since then our economy has gone from strength to strength, relatively speaking, and thanks largely to the IT boom and outsourcing business, India is now the 4th most attractive investment destination in the world.
It is not just the GDP that has changed over the years, but also a large part of India's character. The narrow minded, illiberal, savings oriented Indian made way for the risk-taking, entrepreneurial Indian, who dared to dream big and reach for more. Somewhere along the line, Indians in all fields began to lose their inferiority complex and prepared themselves to stand toe to toe with the world.
We are, today, a country thats driving to the future but every now and again takes a detour to the past. A visit to the cynical and fatalistic mindset. Where we believe everything is wrong and beyond repair. Yes, a lot is wrong and we still remain a third world country. The social evils of untouchability, sati, widow remarriages, illiteracy, poverty, child labour, corrpution, naxalism and female infanticide to name a few do exist and need to be addressed and abolished, but reverting to cast disparaging shadows of negativity and hopelessness is what our country doesnt need. Do we really want to be a country of disenchanted people with corrupt spirits who would rather pull out the dust from under the carpet but not sweep it clean? India doesnt need the populace to show helplessness when met with such challenges. She needs them to understand that if there wont be change now, there might never be one. She needs them to stand as one, how many ever of them and lead a struggle for freedom, this time from ourselves and all that we have created, like those noble men and women all those years ago. What will not suffice is the diligence of one man on a hunger strike in Delhi, but a collective quest for a second Independence.
We, as a people, have endured, evolved and emerged emboldened. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot to stand up for.
Words from Pandit Nehru's speech at the stroke of midnight on 14th August 1947 seem as apt now as they did then. " Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we redeem our pledge....the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.."
Happy Independence Day!