India turns 77!

Aug 15, 2023

India is celebrating its 76th independence day today. Irrespective of all the political gimmicks (like per capita GDP vs total size of economy), there is no doubt about India’s economic progress and cultural awakening in the present times. However, we must be careful not to turn in religious bigots. This is not the characteristic of our culture, at least for the last millennium.

With all the negativity surrounding us in the current environment, I wonder if a symbolism like Independence Day is of value anymore. There used to be a time when my school used to have a function on two days of national importance. There used to be intense preparations for the day for the preceding one month. On the day of the event, we used to get ready early and leave for school in anticipation of some cultural activities, prize distributions, dreaded Yoga activities, and not the least, laddus! There used to be some energetic patriotic sermons from local leaders and persons of eminence. It was an excellent introduction to cultural patriotism for us kids, away from all the intricacies and complexities of the culture, nation, and the ultra-modern concept of patriotism. I can’t help but reminisce about the time gone by.

Yesterday, I was talking to my cousin, who has two kids. He mentioned that there is no cultural activity in his son’s school this time. School administration no longer wants to indulge in such activities due to mounting expenses. I couldn’t help but wonder how the child will develop a sense of patriotism (it is another debate if creating such a feeling is necessary or not). If the state is no longer interested in teaching the feeling of belongingness to the nation, how will future citizens behave when they have the command? There are many reasons for people to break away from this nation; why do we want to create one more? Politicians are busy with their agenda. When I opened a Hindi daily today, I found only the advertisements for Government’s latest schemes. They find it enough to mention Independence Day in passing.

People still curse the English for what all wrong was done to Indians for 190+ years till 1947. I don’t understand the nostalgia. What happened was wrong, and we must ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself. But complaining about it will not benefit us as a nation. Nowadays, it is commonplace to bash people of the past for all that is wrong with India today. I am a firm believer in the fact that one should not judge the past through the moral yardsticks of the present. Using history to justify today’s politics won’t benefit India. Indians as a people have evolved a lot since 1947. What was right in 1947 may not be right in the present. The decisions leaders took at that time may not be consistent with the facts available today. They must have made a lot of wrong decisions. They made some blunders. They were wrong in a lot of their judgments. But does it matter anymore? Can we pull an Endgame-like Time Heist and put things back in place? Why do we still cry over what happened 75 years ago if not? People talk about Akhanda Bharata and all the nostalgia surrounding it. Suppose all the people today living in the so-called Akhanda Bharata areas come back to join us. Is India capable enough to sustain herself and not die beneath the weight of religious bigotry? The advent of the Internet and social media seems to have aggravated the religious zeal that is unlikely to calm down in times to come.

Despite all the flaws in India as a nation and political system, I am very optimistic about its future. The country has done great on many of the UN’s sustainable development goals. There is much to achieve, but we are moving in the correct direction. Reservation system, religious attitudes of people, and shady politicians fuelling all kinds of partisanship in the people are the biggest threats to India and her future. While I understand the atrocities done on certain sections of Indian society in the past, I wonder if the time is ripe for overhauling the reservation system to make it more beneficial for needy sections of the society. We seem to be moving in another direction where the more the population of a caste, the more reservation it will get, irrespective of the political clout and financial status of its people. I believe this is a recipe for disaster in times to come. It is the age of science and technology. Suppose people get to the upper echelons of the scientific and technical community based on their castes and not their academic performance. In that case, we may be delayed in getting our rightful place (of Vishwa Guru, as the RW likes to term it) in the world. I know that with this biased opportunity system, we have brought many previously deprived yet talented people to the forefront, and education definitely improved their conditions generation after generation. Similarly, perhaps a few generations later, we will reach the top of the world order. But will we have the kind of demographic dividend then? I am doubtful.

Until next time 🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳