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India@75: Resurgence, Reimagination, And Recast

On the 75th #IndependenceDay, we brings you the incisive thoughts of three eminent personalities on India’s journey, failures, transformation, and responsibility of citizens in making it a developed nation. In this edition, our august guests include Col. SC Tyagi (ST), Shri KS Pravinsinh Jadeja (PJ), and Prof. Anand Kumar (AK).

Col. SC Tyagi is a retired colonel who joined Indian Army in 1976 after passing out from NDA. He has the honour of serving the Rajput Regiment with the distinction of 33 years. He has fought in IPKF in Sri Lanka and Kargil War. He has also written two books titled “The Fourth Estate: A Force Multiplier for the Indian Army” and “The Kargil Victory: Battles from Peak to Peak.”

Shri KS Pravinsinh Jadeja is in public life since 1982. He has been elected twice as MLA and an Ex-Minister of Gujarat.

Prof. Anand Kumar is a retired professor from JNU. He is a brilliant academician and has the credit of visiting professorships to several universities in India and abroad including BHU, MIT University, Tripura Central University, North-eastern Hill University, Albert Ludwig University, Johannes Kepler University, and Tufts University, to name a few.

1. How do you see India’s journey as a nation during last 75 years?

ST: India has gone through centuries of trials and tribulations inflicted by several foreign invaders like Mongols and Mughals and subjugation under the Colonial Masters; however, the spirit of India has survived all these ordeals. We remained steadfast in these trying times displaying our resilience despite the oppressions of various external rulers during the last millennia. It took us some time, but we have emerged stronger than ever before. After 75 years of Independence, India has shown the world that we are a matured democracy and a rising, resurgent, and responsible nation. The glory of India lies in its cultural diversity and unison among caste, creed, religion, and sects. Today, we have our spacecraft that has reached the moon and the world recognises our great strength in developmental growth, be it in manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, defence, IT, or banking.

We are now self-sufficient in many fields e.g. in food supply, electricity generation, manufacturing of aircrafts, and building aircraft carriers. The recent induction of INS Vikrant demonstrates our capabilities in creating our own deep strategic assets. India is now considered a responsible nation in geopolitical fora. Our soft power is well known across the world. Indian culture is quoted and emulated across various geographies of the world. We are an emerging economy, soon to touch $5 trillion.

PJ: The reflection of India’s journey during 75 years of Independence doesn’t meet the expectations of citizens. India treads her 75 years on a topsy turvy road. For centuries, India has been home to social system that bred inequality, exploitation, and injustice. The poor people have not exploited economically but also have undergone and are still being subjected to social indignities. The Father of Indian Constitution has provided legislations to remove indignity, inequality, and inability.

After 75 years, determined legislations have not fetched the desired solutions. Because Indian politics pays around power capturing games. Indian politicians were committed to the Constitutional democracy during early 1974. Once derailed, the political system never regains its glory of the commitment to the socio-political value of virtues. Since 1985, it looks as if socio-economic development promises get momentum, but it remains a daydreaming. On the contrary, Indian politics imbibed with corruption. Communalisation and religious orthodox AK: In related terms, Indian quest for freedom did achieve significant success on 15th August 1947, but the making of Independent India in last 75 years on the promised line with assured freedom and justice remain unsatisfactory. We are unable to provide freedom from hunger for nearly 2/3rd of our citizens who are living in subsidised food. So, Indian dream of taking poverty and hunger out of the life of the last person is yet to be realised. In terms of political freedom, there has been a good record of regular elections and freedom of political associations, mobilization. and competition. But there is must to be done for converting Indian representative democracy into participatory democracy. The perpetual problem of under-representation of women and poor remains unresolved. The need of social freedom is being negotiated to politics of social engineering, but the result of reservation system remains influential in terms of elite formation and keeps millions of men and women trapped in evils of caste system and cultural dominance.

2. Where did we fail as a democracy?

ST: We have not failed as a democracy. As is known, we are one of the biggest democracies in the world, elections are free and fair, anyone can aspire to be the prime minister of this country. That demonstrates the strength and a deepening democracy. We are a country of several political parties with different ideologies, but we co-exist without any conflict. The most important factor of our democratic maturity is that there is no military interference in the political system. Our Constitution is the guiding force behind our resurgence.

PJ: We failed the spirit of Constitution. We never give up our cast, creed, and religion identity as India citizens. We never give up the practice of superstitious beliefs and rituals. We never give up worshiping of myths and mythology. We never uphold scientific spirit and the value of science. Unfortunately, many Indian scientists are faith dwellers blindly. The last but not the least, we failed to humanity.

AK: Democracy is an ever-evolving system of power based upon political equality and decentralization. Many people consider right to vote and political representation through election as the most essential component of democracy. It is an incomplete understanding because democracy is a way of life where there is space and scope for living with diversities and differences. Indian democracy is suffering with a representation deficit as well as developmental deficit. Therefore, I am inclined to argue that we are living in a system of deficient democracy. But it will be a bit premature to conclude that India as a failed democracy.

3. How long will it take India to transform itself from a developing to developed nation?

ST: The baggage that we are carrying since the colonial misrules is too heavy to easily negotiate. Invasions and colonial rules tattered India from an economically strong nation to under-developed poor country when the Independence came. Over these 75 years, we have resurrected and risen from the morass created by our masters in the past. Today, India is counted as a developing nation. We must take pride and celebrate this resilience of our people. Transitioning from an under-developing poor country to a developing nation takes long time. It took time to raise our head. We are doing well across all the sectors, be it our economy which is growing at a fast rate, or infrastructure development or building huge manufacturing base. We have become a nation that cares for its citizens be it anyone including the people with disabilities. I can say with confidence that we will soon be a developed nation, maybe it takes a decade or so before it happens.

PJ: When we look at the developed nations in this world, the first thing that comes to the fore is human living index. India dropped one spot to 131 among 189 countries in the 2020 human development index, according to a report published by the United Nations Development Program. This is an indicator of our development standard. It’s very unlikely that India can be a developed nation in next 20-30 years unless we formulate the right policies in bolstering the bottom of the pyramid. Although the successive governments have framed policies to improve the living standards of people, massive corruption in the governance system has failed the objective. To transform India into a developed nation, the first and the foremost thing that we must do is to eliminate corruption at all levels. who support the vision of a united and developed India.

4. What changes should Indian citizens emulate in themselves to become more responsible citizens?

ST: World over Indians are welcomed and are considered very intelligent, hardworking, cultured, dutiful and responsible people who are adaptive to the new environment. Many Indians have risen to the top posts in global conglomerates and MNCs. It shows that we have it in us. All that is required today is a bit of self-discipline.

Disciplined citizens can contribute significantly to the progress of a nation and sooner it happens, it will translate into India becoming a power to reckon with. During the last couple of years, India has achieved many milestones and if this pace continues, we will soon be a developed nation. The progress we have achieved till date is a collective contribution of a billion-plus nation. I would exhort all Indians to take pride in our rich cultural heritage, believe in ourselves and work towards a common goal i.e. making India great again.

PJ: Indian citizens are not least irresponsible unless they forced to be. Every Indian loves our credo “SATYAMEV JAYTE.” But people in power have failed to their responsibility, it reflects their misdeeds. Let people in power become transparent in their duties and responsibilities, people will respond double enthusiasm. AK: In this scenario, there are 3 truths. This should be recognized by all concerned and committed citizens of India. First, we must come out of the myth that all citizens of India have come out of the darkness of life without freedom. The struggle for freedom is continuing at various levels and it needs to be actively supported by the better of section of the people of India. Second, we must recognize that the Indian model of building a society based on freedom, justice, equality, fraternity, and unity is not yet well established. We are fiddling with elite oriented political, economic, and social progress which are partial and unsustainable. India must evolve a sustainable model of inclusive development. We need a participatory approach to achieve togetherness of decolonization, de-centralization, and development. So far, we have not paid attention to the reality of their togetherness.

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