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What Independence means to India?

"We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?" - Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his very famous speech of "Tryst with Destiny" August 14, 1947.

Today, we decidedly have gone eons ahead in the journey that began with tragedy and chaos but slowly and steadily progressed towards peace and development. Sure, there are some impedements that are stumbling roadblocks, but with the dedication & determination of our fellow Indians we shall overcome. Hum Hoonge Kamayaab ek Din!

But, there are some questions which creep in our glitzy world and beg for more thought and pondering. Have the fruits of development reached all? Some random strokings of Indian-pride by some advertisements and campaigns may at best arose patriotic feelings, but are we really working towards it. Campaigns like "Mera Bharat Mahaan" and "Jagoore" and even the repeated appeals by film-stars and other celebrities and Election Commission have fallen on deaf ears if the the poor turnout rates in recent elections are any indication.

Why is that 100 crores of population can't create an environment suitable for development while many of our brothers are damn successful outside India. Sure, in recent past, India has justifiably claimed its position as a power to reckon with by successfully even averting the full effects of slowdown. But then, equality is not an ideal which is to be adored in public, while it has no implication in real life. We may rationalize the negative points, pretend that they never existed, or safely say "Mera Bharat Mahaan". But then, greatness can't be bestowed by anybody, it must be commanded through our actions. When, millions of our brothers are starving, being molested, exploited etc we may choose to close our eyes but that doesn't alter reality.

Some genuinely sincere intellectuals who tried their hand in India, failed and moved abroad to find new avenues, claim that India as a state has failed them. I beg to differ. We Indians, failed INDIA. The lofty standards set by a host of great Indians such as Gandhiji, Nehru, Sardar, Bose, Bhagat Singh and many many others who weren't lucky enough to enter the hall of fame was through sincerest dedication which demanded nothing selfish from others but their own welfare. As aptly summed up by one film, people always want a Gandhiji to be born, not in their own house, but neighbour's.

Abdum Kalam, in a speech noted that the very same Indians who give a damn to rules of India, very obediantly follow rules while residing abroad and most ironically claim that the other nations are neat and clean. Why? Some claim that system is such the it breeds corruption! Many politicians are so powerful that we can't face them. "Yatha Raja, Thatha Praja" was the maxim of past. The history has turned one full circle and now the maxim is "Yatha Praja, Thatha Raja" in a democratic republic like ours. Indian electoral history is replete with examples wherein a very powerful incumbent was thrown out of power once he lost his sympathy with masses. If he could be thrown out, then it does mean that masses are really capable of coming out of their safe confines and determine the fate of the nation.

So, this means, that the system is such, because of our own tacit approval. Indians have always misunderstood the law of Karma and there has been opposition to this pattern of thinking from leaders. So much ingrained is the idea in India that people come to accept whatever becomes of them in resignation saying that this is fruit of karma. Very true. But it is only after we have fulfilled our duties to the fullest possible extent, that we can sit aside and watch the result. Patience is not a virtue if it means tolerating everything with no sense of esteem. We always wait for the arrival of some great person to lift our lives from the misery. But, it must be understood, that we can't sit idle until that person arrives. Because of this mentality Indians suffered unspeakable misery because they believed that some day justice will be done. But so long as well place our fate on the "other" factors we would never be able to shoulder our responsibilities.

unan-o-Misra-Ruma sab mit gaye jahan se
Ab tak magar hai baqi namo-nisan hamara
Kuchh bat hai ki hasti mitati nahin hamari
Sadiyon raha hai dusman daur-i-zaman hamara
Iqbal, Indian poet and thinker

The poet says that whereas the ancient civilizations of Greece, Egypt and Rome have all disappeared from this world, the basic elements of our civilization still continue. Although world events have been inimical to us for centuries, there is 'something' in our civilization which has withstood these onslaughts.

That 'something' which Iqbal mentions, points out to the most inherent strength of Indians. Its "character", its "unity in diversity" and the most tolerant culture. What Gandhiji created was not something new. What he factually did was to help Indians re-discover themselves. We needn't battle the ills in India by imitating from others. We need to create our own home-grown solutions to the problems that abound us. Most importantly we need to feel a strong sense of belongingness towards our motherland. Then, rest would follow.


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