What does Independence mean for us ? What is importance of Independence day for a common man ?
Are we really Independent ?
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru looks down on the crowd during India’s Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort, New Delhi, India, Aug. 15, 1947
Today is 64th Independence Day of India. British left India on 15th August, 1947 after the centuries of colonial raj and looting of natural resource and India became a sovereign nation.
So what had changed after the independence? What does Independence mean for us? Does this mean 1.Economic Independence 2.Social Independence or 3.Cultural Independence? What is importance of Independence Day for a common man? Are we really independent (as a nation and as an individual)?
Yes, we can beckon of emerging global power of world but what about the plight of 40 % population which is living below the poverty line and lacking the access to basic amenities? Well, such an occasion helps in sustaining the general euphoria of “Mera Bharat Mahan” among the public. It’s good to have a sense of proud in one’s own country but this shouldn’t be a momentous phenomenon. Are we really proud of present status of country? (Crippling with tonnes of problems like widespread poverty, terrorism, internal security, corruption, inefficient governance, price rise and lack of efficient and affordable education and health care etc). Some may argue that “Cribbing about the inadequacies and shortcomings is never the solution. It’s up to you to make the best out of this situation.” This confirm to saying of Gandhiji “Be the change you want to see in world” .Don’t like it change it!
I agree to them to a certain extent. We (the common citizens) are responsible for present status of country (Good or Bad or whatever). We need to take responsibility for everything that happened around us and can’t remain a silent spectator for changes taking place in and around the society. There is no shame in accepting that our country in not the best in many areas (like Governance, security, infrastructure, and education, healthcare) but as the same time we should also rejoice our achievements. Acknowledgment of failure and strategies to improve on failed (or weak) frontiers are need of hour. There is always a scope for innovation and improvement.
It would be wrong to undermine the progress made by India in last 63 years after the independence but there is need to raise the concern about the way of development and unfold the truth about the real beneficiary of development. We need to ensure the accountability at each and every level and it shouldn’t stop at the “lofty promises of inclusive development”
I have tried to present my own perspective on few areas which would be crucial in shaping the future trajectory of India.
Education is foundation stone of any nation. There has been an increase in the spread and reach of education in various hinterlands of India but we had failed to provide quality education to a larger section of people. This had undermined the growth potential and marginalised some section of society from mainstream growth story.
Approach: RTE (Right to Education) could be one of step in right direction. But the real challenge is execution of legislation to make any observable change in reach and quality of education. It will face many hurdles including the arrogance and ignorance of elites in ensuring a level playing platform for all Indians.
While it may not be bad idea to discuss the role of private sector and foreign players in spreading the outreach of education but they can’t substitute the government. Education is a primarily a state subject and it can’t be left to private sector or market forces. Education shouldn’t be approached as a business but unfortunately it is taking shape of business in India with vested interest tweaking policies to fill their pocket.
There is need to focus on the primary and secondary education, because if your foundation is shaky you can’t build a skyscrapers. Our education system is, still, largely based on the “Macaulay system” which was created to manufacture few people (disconnected from ground realities) who can help British to be in command. Continuity of this structure ensured that few people (politicians) still managed to hold that command. Now we are in rush to create so-called professional who can run the multinational and make their profit sheet fatty. Education should be about nurturing the talent and uncovering the hidden potential and creativity of individuals. Access to opportunity (so education) is crucial and first step in ensuring the equity and equality in the society.
Model System: Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya is one of success story of our education system. It has been able to deliver results with focus on the affordable quality education. (Navodaya’s are Central Government promoted schools set up across the country with focus on the rural students. They were dubbed as “Doon for common student” by Rajiv Gandhi)
2. Social Mobility
We need to create the “access to opportunity” and “enabling environment” for upward social mobility in the society. Unless we offer such a framework we will not be able to bridge the gap between poor and rich and inclusive development will remain a lofty promise for winning elections.
What we are seeing is skewed development with benefits limited to certain section of society. Number of Billionaires from India is increase but at the same time number of people living below the poverty line (latest estimates show this is 40 %) are also increasing. So what we have achieved through the independence? How many people from low economic class had become billionaire by genuine and legitimate way (not by Hook and crook) after the independence? Birth shouldn’t completely decide your fate!
3. Fair Business Environment
Most businessmen in India are successful due to their proximity to power (Government). This had become even greater with increasing influence of money in elections. There is need for creation of an environment which ensure fair and transparent process for doing business. Do we want few individuals like late Dhirubhai Ambani who can tweak the law and become a successful businessman or we want to provide the same opportunity (to rise to height by his entrepreneurial talent)to all the Indians?
There is an urgent need to reassess present approach to development which is largely based on exploitation of natural resources to generate profit for few corporations (Like Mining in tribal areas). We need to make local people stakeholders in development and ensure proper Rehabilitation and Resettlement. Otherwise this approach to development will lead to social chaos and social tension as seen in the Red Corridor.
Indians had shown leadership (domestic as well global) in business despite dysfunction governance. Now it’s time to show leadership in governance and politics. It’s time to do away with dynastic politics and stop being extremely loyal (or Chamcha) to few political families. Politics is a bad word to discuss in India but who are responsible for this? Politician or we (the people) who elected bad politicians and takes no interest in ensuring accountability and transparency in public life?
We live in country where an economist Prime minister (who doesn’t have confidence in democracy otherwise why didn’t he contested the Loksabhae election or may be he was not confident enough or may be his boss didn’t allowed him to contest) set target of 4 % growth rate for agriculture (on which more than 60 % population depends directly and all of us depend indirectly) and double-digit growth rate for economy? Why this double standard? Do we want to create gap by systematic approach? What do we want to achieve through such an approach? This shows how disconnected our policy makers are from ground realities. We are still living under the colonial mindset where people at top think that they are enacted to assert authority over the India.
We need policy makers who have some sense of understanding of problem faced by real India and can feel the sorrow of marginalized section of society. We are still a democratic nation and it’s up to the people of nation (or us) to decide what kind of leadership we would like to see in the future India?
Today elections are all about the money (and about the cast to a certain extent) .We need act immediately to stop overriding influence of money on the democratic process of election otherwise we will soon become Gulam of our own money hungry political class. Democracy and independence will again be in serious danger!
5. Employment Generation and increasing the productivity
It would be wrong to judge the progress of country only based on the so called GDP indicators. It would be misleading to see the growth of malls or IT industry as growth of real India. Only a small fraction of population had benefitted from the present approach of growth.
There is a need to push forward manufacturing for long term sustainable employment generation opportunities. Why can’t we become leaders in quality manufacturing? (We have largest workforce in world and technological ability). The proposed National Manufacturing policy is a step in right direction which aims to create domestic capability and competence in industries where there is a huge domestic demand (telecom, power equipment etc). There is a need to leverage the technical skilled workforce and demographic dividend.
Also short-term solution to employment like MNREGA are not sustainable in long-term and people need to understand the difference between “vote bank” moves and real solutions.
6. Responsibility, accountability and Diversity
India is country of diversity. Let’s not focus on the single point universalism of values for the all people. We need to respect the other’s norms, values and faith as long as it doesn’t interfere with the others. Let’s not shy away from discussion about the religion and politics. We can have divergent views but it is these views which will help in a coherent and inclusive society.
Rather than shying away from responsibility, let’s accept the fact that in some way or other we all are responsible (and contributor) for present state of India.
India is on the verge of transformation. It’s up to the conscious citizens to decide whether they would like to live in a Global power where creativity flourish , ideas emerge and talents are nurtured to their potential or people struggling with poverty ,hunger and striving for basic amenities ?
Let’s not forget the sacrifice made by our own countrymen in achieving the freedom and maintaining the freedom Let’s not allow this to go waste Let’s salute the brave hearts who have sacrificed their life in protecting freedom.
Let’s start today the process of nation building where citizens are safe and secure , where creativity flourishes, ideas emerge and “access to opportunity” is ensured!
Let’s make whatever small efforts we can make in own capacity and capability to become a responsible stakeholder of resurgent India.
Jai Hind Jai Bharat!