Images of the midnight of 14th August 1947 give me goosebumps. It was pouring in Delhi and hundreds and thousands of black umbrellas could be seen. People from every part of the country had gathered to witness this historical moment. Lord Mountbatten signed a piece of paper that set every nook and corner of India free. 72 years have passed since that day. The nation has grown leaps and bounds. Including a literal leap to the moon. The struggle for freedom had united India. A nation is not its boundaries but its people--it is important for its people to become independent, in the minds.
We should take pride in several achievements over these years (each of them have leave a slight bitter taste in the mouth though). The talk of the town today is the two newly founded union territories. Partition was the Brits way to leave us as they had found us--divided. We have finally gotten rid of the shackles to set Kashmir free from being 'special'. In 1947, we started with 552 princely states, each of them with different names and recognitions. October 31st 2019 might see 28 states and 9 UTs.
Every citizen of India now has a paper identity. Aadhaar Card with biometric data has been made mandatory. Although the struggle for communal and legal identity is evident on social media daily, we can take pride in having a desi Green Card for every Indian citizen. With the launch of Reliance Jio in 2007, we have access to internet for a negligible charge. This has opened up multiple platforms for self-expression and a wide arena for employment and businesses. If we can overlook the information overload and the fact that a mandatory course on the utilisation of internet needs to be added to academic syllabuses, our youth is breaking records on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
In about three weeks, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will take pride in landing on the moon. Let’s not mention the humongous resounces employed and the resulting pollution. In March 2014, World Health Organisation certified us a polio-free nation. It is an achievement for the medical fraternity as we are driving out several other diseases with high-end medical facilities. Also, it can be rightfully said that our ancient knowledge of alternative therapies like Ayurveda, Homeopath, Acupressure, Reiki, etc. is gaining popularity within the country and abroad. The wonders of yoga are being rediscovered and the ministry of AYUSH declared 21st June as the International Yoga Day in 2015.
Swachch Bharat Mission was a remarkable intitiative by the Modi government in 2014. Redundant but having to be said, it encourages people to put garbage in the bins. This will definitely improve the sights of dirty roads and localities. Maybe there is no harm in blaring out a reminder from the loud speakers every morning. Basic daily ration was difficult to buy in early days of independence. Long queues for a kilogram of wheat are only a vision in the black and white movies. The prices soaring high after every budget session is a talk for another day.
We had started with a handful of educational institutes, which have now mushroomed to have covered every urban and rural region providing education to all. Education sector itself has brought about a lot of employment opportunities. Education can now be termed as an industry and the picture of ethical development of a child is thrown out of the window. Achievements lie in the marks and percentages. An everyday hearing of the Ayodhya case has been started by the Supreme Court. They have managed to identify people from the dynasty of Ram. The day is not far when the Supreme Court will realise some practical ways to keep the modern Ravanas at bay. Cases like Nirbhaya and Unnao mar our progress.
The innocent tribal men beaten down by the MP police is absolute barbarism. We still have to free ourselves from the clutches of superstitions, political fights, regional biases, and be responsible of our actions. If we think we have earned our freedom to spit on the roads, which is a criminal offence, we are free to adopt the healthy habit of throwing the garbage, maybe even segregate them into their respective blue (dry) and green (wet) bins while we are at it. If we are free to jump the traffic signal, we should take pride in paying the levied charges. If we are free to breathe in a secular India, mob lynching cannot be the face of the freedom to follow any religion. A man, helpless, is pulled out on the roads. Few people, claiming to be hurt by the victim's act or belief, beat him until he loses his fight. Others join to claim his life. A crowd of raged, maddened men do not commit a 'murder' but this is called 'lynching'. A murderer gets a sentence to life. In case of lynching, there is no verdict for the mob. Public in democracy is free to make their own judgements, but it is not justifiable to decide on others' lives.
Lo and behold! President Trump wants to devoid us from World Trade Organisation (WTO) advantages saying we are not a ‘developing nation’ anymore. Well, that's a compliment.
The writer is an educationist. Views are personal.