Having completed 75 years after attaining Independence from foreign rule, Bharat has embarked on a new journey to play a lead role globally. While the next phase of its civilisational journey has begun, every citizen is in a boisterous and jubilant mood as the Amrit Mahotsav got underway with a new purpose.
Our nation completed this journey after having crossed numerous obstacles and problems. It has been an arduous, exciting and momentous journey. We have a vivid picture of the nation that became independent but faced the tragedy of Partition and suffered the trauma of violence unleashed after. Immediately after this tragic experience, its borders were attacked. The issues that the country faced post-independence could not dent our resilience, defeat our capabilities or shackle the potential of our nation. Taking the challenges head-on has led to the strengthening of Bharat’s democratic foundations.
Today, we can hardly imagine how the nation celebrated its greatest festival of democracy in 1952 and set up an elected government after having suffered the trauma of Partition and the attack on its borders. It was indeed the willpower and efforts of the people that ensured integration of those areas that were left out of the Union in 1947, such as Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Hyderabad and Puducherry.
Often, a question arises as to how a nation that secured political independence only a few years earlier could pick up the pieces and move forward so quickly. One cannot comprehend this without understanding the Bharatiya society as a whole. Even while suffering the acute pain of invasions and other crises, the Bharatiya society did not forget the sutra of its unity. Only if genuine attempts are made can one understand the freedom struggle of Bharat that left its footprint over towns, villages, forests, mountains and the coastal areas: Whether it is the Santhal uprising or the armed struggles in southern India, there’s a single underlying principle. Every one of our heroes yearned for the country’s independence. This craving for swarajya was not for themselves, but for the larger society and the nation.
Restlessness in the Bharatiya society was so intense that people made supreme sacrifices. This was why the independence movement spread as far as the UK, the US, Japan and so on. In fact, the India House in London was one of the major centres of the freedom movement. The independence movement was so comprehensive that it united the masses transcending geographical, economic, and societal boundaries.
Innumerable people sacrificed their lives in search of freedom. Some of them are household names while we hardly know about several others who submitted their lives at the altar of independence. This legacy of heroism, unparalleled patriotic fervour, supreme sacrifices and bloodshed seems to have served as the perfect launch pad for the citizens to win glory for the country. This desire on their part reflects Bharat’s societal aspiration rather than being fuelled by political leaders. This very aspiration came to the fore when internal Emergency was imposed and democratic institutions were attacked during 1975-77. Citizens from across the spectrum were at the forefront of the struggle against anti-democratic and authoritarian forces.
The 75th year of independence may also be the right time to introspect and plan for the centenary year, 2047. Also, at a time when the whole world is coming to terms with the post-Covid-19 social order and facing uncertainty, we should set our own distinct goals as a nation and society. Undoubtedly, the last decade has been a period of achievements for Bharat. We may have to build on our recent successes.
Providing access to affordable and quality healthcare, housing, education and achieving financial inclusion apart from citizens’ empowerment are areas where we have made large strides. For instance, Bharat’s ingenuity and intelligence were at their best while developing a safe and affordable vaccine against Covid-19 in a short period. The vaccine served as the perfect antidote and saved billions of lives globally.
Going forward, we have to recognise and confront several internal and external threats from known and unknown sources. Achieving societal harmony should be a priority area for Bharat. Given the inalienable link between society’s strength and harmony amongst her communities, we may have to channelise our energies in this direction.
On the economic front, Bharat has made rapid strides. But there’s a lot more that has to be achieved given the aspirations of a 1.4 billion population. There’s untapped potential for faster growth in several areas. Unless we place Bharat’s home-grown businesses and enterprises at the forefront of our policy formulation and achieve self-reliance, providing work opportunities to all may remain a pipe dream. Bharat will emerge strong in the true sense only when it is self-reliant.
A reorganisation of our policy and democratic institutions may have to be done in sync with the expectations of our people and requirements at a time Bharat seeks to play a lead role among global communities by drawing strength from its millennia-old civilisation. Making the judiciary, executive and all public institutions accessible to common people, who feel distraught and helpless, may be very significant in our onward march.
Global challenges in the short term can be faced only when our internal systems are strong. Apart from economic and political empowerment, finding home-grown solutions to tackle social challenges and fortifying Bharat’s internal systems should get a big push.
The writer is sarkaryavah, RSS