Saturday, April 1, 2023

India @ 75 : Past and Present

Unique culture of its own

India is an ancient civilization with unique culture of its own. It was a hub of Knowledge for a large part of the globe with its Gurukuls (Forest Schools) and Universities. All branches of knowledge had been preserved in the form of classical poetry on palmyra leaves in Sanskrit. It has been a sub-continent breathing spirituality. Hinduism coexisted with other religions which came up later.. Knowledge was given precedence over physical might. Still It was very rich in materialistic wealth too. People lived in harmony and peace. Gajani, Ghori came to loot but Moghals came to stay and enjoy the riches. Later British came for trade but started ruling us. In an attempt to exploit the riches they made us aliens to our culture by distancing us from Sanskrit in which our fund of knowledge existed and by enslaving our minds with English education and culture.

They left only after dividing us

Many countries in the world got their independence by winning wars. But India got independence in a unique way, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, through non-violence. Sacrifices of innumerable heroes, men and women across India made the British quit India. But they left us only after dividing this sub-continent into two by creating Pakistan on both sides of the country. It was like cutting the two arms of mother India.

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Mixed Economy

Independent India created a written constitution to be the leading light in governing the country. It was decided to have a Parliamentary Democracy. Its structure would be a mixture of Unitary and Federal governments. Powers and responsibilities of Centre and States were defined. Taking some good things from Capitalism and Communism, we adopted Mixed Economy in which both Public and Private sectors co-exist. When the world was dominated by American and Russian groups we decided to remain neutral calling ourselves non-aligned. We had 5 year plans and created huge irrigation projects like Nagarjuna Sagar, Bhakranangal, Hirakud etc. Our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru advocated peace but we were attacked by China and it occupied a large part of our land in the North-East. Pakistan too attacked us and occupied a part of Kashmir on the North-West (POK). When there was trouble between east and west parts of Pakistan our PM Indira Gandhi helped East Pakistan to become a separate country, Bangladesh. With that Pakistan initiated efforts to separate Kashmir from India. Having failed in open war it started training terrorists and sending them to create disturbances and spreading disaffection between Muslims and Hindus in India.

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Garibi Hatao

To avoid expensive wars India entered into defence agreement for 20 years with Russia and added the word ‘Socialist’ to the name of our country. There was a 20 year plan for eradicating poverty (Garibi Hatao). But there was political turmoil when the court decided PM Indira Gandhi’s election as void. Then she imposed National Emergency. For two years all opposition leaders were jailed and human rights were scrapped. There were efforts to develop sciences as scientific research is the foundation for progress of a country. Our scientists in the fields of agriculture, space, atomic energy, electronics and communications contributed a lot for our development.

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Integration of Kashmir

As the economy was in doldrums, In 1991 Dr Man Mohan Singh, Finance Minister, under the leadership of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, introduced economic reforms in the name of ‘Market Economy’. But due to lack of government control rich became richer and poor poorer. Industrialists and politicians got involved in several scams. There was change of guard and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to Power with Mr Modi as PM. Though it is said to be a Nationalist party, International political and economic relations improved. There has been better enforcement of rule of law. Corruption is controlled in some sectors like IT, RTO, and Sales-tax by digitalizing services. Though Kashmir has been a part of India, it was integrated into India by withdrawing the special status it enjoyed. The opposition parties (like Pakistan)made Muslims believe that their interests would be compromised in BJP rule. So though not religious, political intolerance started growing among Hindu and Muslim communities.

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Survived as a democracy

India, unlike its neighbors, survived as Democracy. But uneducated voters and legislators, who have no understanding of the system of governance, have been a problem. Hero worship is a part of Indian character and people blindly voted with loyalty even for those leaders whose criminality was proved in courts. Without caring for the competence and commitment of a man to serve people; money, muscle power, caste, religion, region became the basis of electing leaders. This resulted in inefficient, selfish legislators. They subjugated the Executive to consolidate their power. Paid media started propagating false news shielding reality from the eyes of the public. Some governments have become intolerant against criticism by public or media. Crimes and atrocities on women grew many fold with nearly uncensored movies in theatres and on internet. Our own values of life are undermined by watching things alien to our culture. Police became ineffective as some politicians supported criminals. Delay in judicial system perpetuated litigation and made criminals fearless. Reservations for some castes in education, employment and even promotions made the efficient leave the country for better life abroad. In the name of welfare political parties compete with one another in giving freebies to voters to create their vote banks. Obviously for funds they cut developmental activities and increase taxes. Apart from taxes, rising prices of petrol and other essential items remind us of the policy of robbing Paul to pay Peter. But legislators, though they delay or do not pay dues to employees and pensioners, increase their salaries and pensions as they please.

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Nationalistic perspective

Development of regionalism, sometimes in the name of language, is affecting centre state relations too. Looking at things from nationalistic and humanistic perspective has to be developed among people for a better and brighter future of India.

Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur had been a Lecturer in English. He is a poet, critic and translator. His interests are Literature, Philosophy and social media.


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