India Is Fifty Years Young
Independence is not a legacy that can be taken for granted, but is a privilege bestowed on us by those who died for it. Today India needs realistic evaluation of her achievements and failures and a step towards the greater triumphs and achievement to usher the 21st century. On 15th August, 1947 India was nothing more than a miserable habitat of hungry and tormented souls. Though morally self-reliant, she had no technology to produce even a single needle.
Almost three hundred years of subjugation had alienated her from worldwide industrial and technological development. Everything had to come from outside. Widespread poverty. ever-increasing population and communal discord dominated India at that time. Ever since then, there has been no looking back. Economically, politically, culturally. and technologically India has progressed immensely. But this progress is wide and liberal as opportunity of independence had provided us. By the 60s, technology in India was at par with other contemporary Asian economies in industrial growth. Foreign collaborations in core sector industries, nationalisation of banks, growing network of insurance, and finance sector put India on road to progress. But this success proved short-lived. The liberalisation policies of the 90s made remarkable achievements. Compared to the 51 million tonnes of food grain production in 1947, India had 198 million tonnes production capacity in 1997. Immense market potential have made India an investor’s paradise. The disinvestment programme. autonomy to major PSU’s, convertability of rupee, etc. have been India’s achievements that will pay rich dividends in future. Though India is able to meet 85% of the domestic requirements, India’s achievements are modest in comparison to those of developed countries which started reconstruction of their economies after the fallout of the World War-II. Besides, India’s hope of doubling her per capita income within the first 25 years has miserably failed. India is the world’s largest democracy. The period 1947-1969 can be called the golden era, for being dominated by a galaxy of national leaders like Patel, Nehru, Morarji Desai, Jayprakash Narayan and Shastri, who believed in value based politics instead of vote-based politics. Indian polity has failed to keep up its promise. The fact that even after fifty years of independence the country is grappling with basic problems like poverty, drinking water, over-population and unemployment because of failure of political management.
Lack of foresight and application has made the country lag behind. The Kashmir issue worsened and the language policy was a failure because overall national sentiments and communication across the country were overlooked by politicians. This also boasted regionalism and anti-Hindi feeling in the South and gave birth to regional parties. The land reforms policy also failed to impart justice to the tillers. Regional economic imbalances resulted in many regional movements like Gorkhaland movement and Bodo movement. The 1975 emergency was a national disaster on part of our polity. It exposed the deceitful levels to which our politicians can fall if their interest gets slightly insecure. Indian secularism also got receded at many times. Politics in India has lost its former sanctity and dignity. Opportunistic alliances have scuffled the nation morally. Criminalisation and political nexus with anti-social elements have seriously hampered the nation’s progress. India ranks as the 8th most corrupt country in the world with involvement of many parliamentarians.
The most vital political achievement was at the hands of Sardar Patel when 562 princely states were integrated into the Indian Union. Division of States on languages was another remarkable achievement. Land reforms. abolition of Zamindari, the endorsement of Lord Rippon’s innovative local self government schemes and Panchayati Raj have helped the grassroot levels into the national main stream.
India’s population control programme has been a failure. A girl child in India is the most unwanted, neglected and deprived individual. This along with illiteracy and ignorance, has led to over-population. The status of Indian women as a whole has not really improved. Besids atrocities, dowry. female foeticide, female infanticide, etc. continue unabated. These fifty years have seen singificant policies for women reservation in Panchyati Raj elections, ban of pre-birth sex determination tests and recent scheme of monetary allowances to girls in families below the poverty line. Besides, there has been a rise in female literacy in India. Even the Indian Army and IAF now remit women. Although urban women have made phenomenal progress but her rural contemporaries still lie bonded in ignorance and tough traditions.
Illiteracy is another major problem. Today, there are over 78 million children who do not have access to primary education. However, the country has a nation wide network of colleges, technical institutes and universities of international standard today.
Unemployment is emerging as a major problem with an annual growth rate of 2.03 percent. The failure to provide dequate opportunities has led to ‘brain drain-. resulting in xtreme loss to India.
India has kept up the legacy of free press and media in these fifty years. The UNI is a landmark achievement of Asia. The recent autonomy of all India Radio and Doordarshan by the Prasar Bharati Act is a major achievement. India is rogressing on the path of development in science and technology. The atomic test at Pokhran in 1974 made India potential nuclear power and now we are one. Our MBT Arjun’ and missiles like ‘prithvi’, Trushul’. ‘Nag’. ‘Akashi, etc. stand testimony to our self-reliance in defence production. Indian scientists are achieving new heights of technological wonders.
Medical facilities and health care have improved. The average life expectancy has risen from 30 years to 60 years and the death rate has fallen by 9.6 per 1000. Besides achieving a great deal of progress in arresting the growth of diseases, awareness campaigns against leprosy, cancer and AIDS are also on the rise. India now offers world class medical e at par with the developed countries.
Thus, there has been a long series of acid tests that the country had to go through. Be it a single party rule or a dozen party coalition or a thirteen-day wonder of an unsupported regime, Indian democracy has withstood the tests of time though country had to face three wars, frenzy of communal clashes, emergency, insurgencies and terroristic violence. The Indian doctrine of “secularism” has become a role model for the world.