Millennium Post

Celebrating Indian freedom

The celebration of India’s 66th Independence Day is a good time to take stock of the nation. It hardly needs saying that 65 years is a brief period of time, a blink in an eye, when given the vast vistas of India’s history that extends to millennia. Even then, they are nearly a lifetime and many achievements are possible within them. Independence Day in 1947 represented a break in history. It was a moment of transition in which an ancient people, long shackled to an oppressive servitude, found freedom. It was, as Nehru noted in his speech on that occasion, a moment which comes but rarely in history. Among the achievements of the Indian nation in the years that have followed is not just that this freedom has largely been preserved, but also that the country has been successful in sustaining the institutions that it gave itself in that dawn of a new era, which includes a parliamentary democracy, a constitution and freedom for people that would enable them to empower themselves in ways not possible before. This has not been an easy task, as there were threats and the fragile independence has had to be safeguarded against attempts at encroachment. India has, however, succeeded in its experiment with nationhood so far; it is an emerging power and it has a voice in the international arena. Yet, though the long slumber is over and India is independent, it  cannot yet be said to be vital or even anywhere close to its true potential. Poverty, ignorance and disease have not yet been mastered nor has the nation succeed in ensuring justice and fullness of life to every man and woman. The path ahead is, therefore, long and there is to be much struggle, for the period of striving and nation-building are not over. The freedom that was gained in 1947 was political and legal. The economic and cultural shifts that should have accompanied it are still to happen, so the Indian revolution is as yet incomplete.

Today, the nation finds itself once again at the crossroads, when much is possible and where changes in policy direction will strikingly determine its future. It must, therefore, choose with care and, above all, ensure that the policies are inclusive so that all may dwell in the mansion of India peaceably and in prosperity. Nehru had also talked, in his freedom at midnight speech, of the ideals that gave India strength down the trackless centuries. When building the India of the future, these must not be lost sight of. India must stay true to its genius, never become a copy, or a clone, of societies found elsewhere, which would be a great loss for world civilisation. India must never lose its soul, and our policies must reflect our uniqueness.
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