India at 75: Much to celebrate and plenty ahead to aspire for
We have a lot to be proud of but we must lay special emphasis on education as a shaper of our future
On 15 August, one-sixth of humanity will collectively celebrate 75 years of having breathed the fresh air of independence from colonial rule. A nation which has been a democratic, secular, self-governing republic for 7 decades; one that saw democratic and largely peaceful transfers of power at nationwide scale 16 times since 1947. This is possibly the only large modern country to embark on universal suffrage from day one, empowering every adult, man or woman, rich or poor, literate or not, Hindu or Muslim, with that magical ‘astra’ of a vote to bring about change for good. At birth, Independent India was largely illiterate, extremely impoverished from centuries of colonial exploitation and bore the ignominy of mass hunger and short life expectancy. That nation, which soon became a self-governing republic, is today the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power parity, has doubled life expectancy, vastly reduced poverty and is geopolitically a force to reckon. In the past 75 years, many large nations splintered, most notably the USSR, but India with its mind-boggling diversity, be it language, religion, race, cuisine or culture, has remained united. Even Canada almost split during the 1960s on the issue of language. Unlike many other ex-colonial nations, we did not have a military coup, nor is it even thinkable.