In a few days from now, India will celebrate 75 years of independence, as we witness the momentous occasion, Indians need to look at their country from a new perspective.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 2017 Red Fort speech spoke about a ‘New India,’ which will have equal opportunities, a country free from the chains of casteism, and communal tension.
75 Years of Independence
A country that successfully solves its endemic problems of corruption, nepotism, and terrorism, a nation where every woman, man, and child would be given an empowered and dignified standard of living.
This speech was touted as being the second greatest speech of any Indian Prime Minister after Nehru’s tryst with destiny utterances. This is not to say that the speeches given by other Prime Ministers in between were less important.
The point is that when India celebrates 75 Years of Independence these two speeches stand out and today have more relevance than the others. More so when India is witnessing politics of a different kind.
As the Indians look forward to PM Modi’s speech from the ramparts of Red Fort this 15thof August, there is reason to be optimistic and not pessimistic. He is a great statesman, whose speeches are powerful and resonate with people for a long time.
India has been a country, where dissent has been a regular feature, which has manifested itself in various forms and beliefs, and yet it has remained strong with its towering democracy withstanding the test of time, while other democracies in the world have withered away. There were watershed moments when India’s character could have been changed forever from democracy to autocracy. But its leaders have firmly believed in the values enshrined in its Constitution. That’s why it doesn’t have fate as its neighbours.
Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency, she could have carried on with the autocratic powers but surely her conscience did not allow her to carry on with unbridled powers, which were trampling upon the common man’s freedom. So, in 1977 she decided that democracy in India is the only binding adhesive that keeps it together, and the elections were announced.
Intellectuals have opined that the concept of a nation was inherent in our country. The concept of Bharat Varsha is present in Rid Veda, of land stretching from the Himalayas to the seas, containing the original territorial notion of India.
The idea of India as a modern nation based on a certain conception of human rights and citizenship, vigorously backed by due process of law and equality before the law, is relatively recent and strikingly modern. India is known as the land of Gandhi.
In modern India, we have had the good fortune of prominent ulemas spearheading the struggle for a united free India as opposed to the Muslim League’s two-nation theory, which was forcefully supported by the British. Thus, diverse people like the ulema played a great role in getting the country free from the shackles of the British Raj.
Let’s not forget before it came into existence our ancestors had given big sacrifices, some even their lives so that we could breathe in a free India, do whatever we wish to do within the limits of the law, and lead a life we choose to live.
In between, there was the India-Pakistan partition, which lead to heavy bloodshed and bad blood, the stains of which we are unable to clean even today. It’s the ghost of the partition of India based on religion that laid the seeds for the communal divide. It perhaps is aggravated to an all-time high today and has become the center stage of Indian politics. Today’s voters are both aspirational and ideological. Politicians need to be careful about the ideology they pitch to their voters.
It’s good that the Government has decided to observe 14th August as Partition Horrors Day, when the country will remember one of the biggest tragedies of mankind. Rightly so, when one remembers the acts of the horrific past, there are lessons, don’t let another partition of this country happen, not at any cost. All Indians must take a vow on that day.
PM Modi has made his intentions clear, others in the leadership position must take the cues in time. They must realize that national interests should supersede their political compulsions.
All Indians including Muslims need to realize, that they are better off living in India than in any other country. Remember there is no real utopia. India is a country of multiple cultures and their amalgamation into one nation.
India is known as a melting pot of cultures, where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Buddhists all use incense sticks for their spiritual and religious practices. Diversity is India’s strength and hegemony cannot be its nature. Even various religions which came to India became Indianised in some way.
A few years of polarization cannot rub off the indelible ink of history, rich with the fact that India has always been an inclusive country. Communal riots happened even before India got its Independence, but the frequency increased after the partition.
The Preamble of the Constitution is the most eloquent manifestation of the vision. The salient features of the Indian republic and its conception of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity, firmly proclaim that the law will be the bedrock of the nation.
Let us learn to look at communal riots from a legal standpoint and not always through a communal prism. There are bound to be differences within a family, if different communities live together it is obvious there are bound to be conflicts. We have to learn to confront them and resolve them. There could be no better time for this.
What is important is that those who make the law and those who enforce them should ensure that they are first safeguarding the interests of India before their interests or that of their community.
India offers great opportunities. Enormous freedom to live the life people wish to lead and not that which the monarch or a state wants them to lead. They could be religious, spiritual, or even an atheist. Do whatever makes them happy but just don’t disturb the lives of your fellow citizens in any way.
National flag in every hand and hoisting from every house is a good thing to happen. But merely hoisting a flag doesn’t make one a good citizen. We need to learn to respect our national flag. Emotional outbursts of patriotism are also necessary but nations don’t run merely on emotions. India needs a consistent emotional attachment of every citizen.
True pleasure can be experienced when the privileged Indians spend their Independence Day with the underprivileged. Hoist flags at an orphanage, a senior citizen home, and spending time with the people there, bring a smile to their faces.
Nations become great when all their people are emotionally attached to them. When Prime Minister spoke from Red Fort on 2017, he said there should be no discrimination between the rich and the poor.
India today needs to trust its leadership and the leaders need to keep the faith of the people. As a nation, it needs to become a country where it is difficult to find the poor. A country where honest businessmen are rewarded. Businessmen are not frowned upon for making profits for their hardwork and investments and they are allowed to relish their rewards without any guilt pangs.
We have always been dismissive of the fact that private business is the lifeblood of the economy. Make in India and ease of doing business becomes a great success story. It needs to become a country that sees fast-track infrastructural development.
Dishonest businessmen are severely punished. But a clear distinction should be made between genuine business failures and dishonest acts. This is important to ensure we encourage entrepreneurship and don’t discourage it. Unnecessary intervention by the governments and law enforcement agencies should be avoided to bring about a positive business sentiment.
While on one side efforts should be made to encourage businessmen, the poor should be provided with employment opportunities. Increase per capita income and let’s please not make India a country of freebies or else we will end up being like our neighbouring countries.
Social media has a great influence on opinion-making today. Users of such platforms should self-regulate the material they share and scrupulously shun what can directly or indirectly promote divisiveness, disharmony, hatred, and bigotry. Let us not forget those safeguarding this country are making many sacrifices for us even today.
When Indians travel abroad, they are identified with their passports, then why are they identified with their caste and religion within the country? India will become a dream destination only when all Indians respect its values and its Constitution.
We must look forward to a New India that celebrates pluralism, an idea vindicated by history. The inclusive vision must be complemented by inclusive development to make India a greater nation.