India’s 75th anniversary of Independence is a time for the old mindset going on vanaprastha as the torch passes to a new generation
I am no midnight’s child. I was born a few years after Independence. Consequently, I can only imagine the emotions of those who watched the flag unfurl on the midnight of 14/15 August 1947. They must have thought the pledge would be redeemed very substantially. As we celebrate 75 years of Independence, we shouldn’t look back only in anger. Back in 1947, there were those who thought India would descend into anarchy and wouldn’t hold together as a political entity. That dire prognosis didn’t come to pass. Barring a brief interlude in the mid-1970s, unlike immediate neighbours, India remained united, wedded to democracy. The early 1960s were a watershed. On many variables (per capita income, literacy)—and data on current human development indicators was difficult to get then—India compared fairly favourably with several East Asian tigers, not to speak of China. Indeed, donors wished India to succeed and the Indian development model was a test case for success. The 60s saw ennui set in, and by the end of the decade, some thought India would go down under, thanks to a population bomb. If Bollywood films are used as a metaphor for socio-economic reality, I will date the onset of ennui to Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa (1957).
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