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INDIA TURNS 70

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Education looks for freedom from illiteracy, where crops are looking for freedom from droughts. “The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?” asked independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru while addressing the citizens of India with his ‘Tryst with Destiny’.

India would not only be, we were told, a fully democratic and secular state but also a country that will fight for ‘the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity’. It is interesting to ask how far along we have come in 70 years in fulfilling that momentous resolve. On the democratic front, India’s success was immediate and came with astonishing speed. India became overnight the first poor country in the world to be a full-scale democracy. And there was, of course, the challenge of the multiplicity of religions in India, with nearly every religion well represented.

We surely have come a long way from an oppressed nation to a potential superpower country in the world out there, but where we are on inside. Have we moved away from our biases, our prejudice, our mentality then and our mentality now? This is a reminder, that independence then came to us at a cost and it will come to all everytime at a cost only. The cost we paid then was ‘change’ and the cost we will keep paying is ‘change’ until we are truly ready to have a tryst with destiny.

Freedom and Power, came with a responsibility, which many of us understood and many let it be. A plenty wrong with a nation cannot be corrected in a trice. We still want freedom, just oppressors are different. Women want to roam around freely, men want to stop being the ‘man’ society wants them to. Streets, sea, air are looking for freedom from pollution, where poverty is looking for freedom from population. Education looks for freedom from illiteracy, where crops are looking for freedom from droughts. God needs freedom from religion and class needs freedom from divide.

So, as we look back over the last 70 years of the world’s largest democracy, a country which is rich in culture and traditions, love and compassion, vision and passion , we have somehow forgotten that India still stands tall and has much more potential than we think it has. Today, as we stand at the cusp of another year, let’s also think about all the wonderful achievements of India in the past decade and recall the moments where we have felt immense pride in calling ourselves ‘Indians’. Be it technology, economy or any other area, we have inculcated the knack to master all.

In the field of science and technology as well as in the industrial arena we have attained great heights. Indian space research is already on the verge of entering an elite group with ‘Chandrayaan’, India’s lunar mission is already on the cards. The Indian business houses have started to rule the world. With the growing spate of international acquisitions by India’s biz houses, the world seems to be feeling the strength of Indian industry. However, there are other areas in which there are still huge shortfalls. These gaps need to be urgently remedied. What we need now is some determined action to do what we must do. A lot is still left and we have only walked a handful. Like said in the beginning ‘Tryst with Destiny’ still holds relevance.

Teacher
K.R. Mangalam World School GKII

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