In normal times, whenever a country celebrates 75 years of its independence, it’s a matter of celebrations. But as Indian citizens, we should certainly ask ourselves whether our country is headed in the right direction.
India was founded as a Republic with the qualities of being democratic, secular, and treating all its citizens equally. Our freedom fighters struggled for several decades to give India independence. They held protest marches, fasts, and even voluntarily courted arrest for a cause they believed in. One of the main goals of our founders was for India to reclaim its place on the world stage, and there was a general consensus among our political class to achieve that goal.
To achieve this purpose, over the years, our political leaders have taken several strides such as focusing on industrialisation instead of agriculture, leading India to several military
victories, launching the Green and White Revolutions, liberalising the economy, declaring
India a nuclear power on the world stage, lifting millions out of poverty, etc. There are
several more milestones we have achieved in the seven decades of our independence.
Logically speaking, we should be jubilant at all that we have achieved, shouldn’t we?
The catch comes in the year 2014. The results of our 16th Lok Sabha elections were a harbinger of a new era in Indian politics, with the sweeping victory of the BJP. Under the current political scenario, Narendra Modi will probably continue as the Prime Minister till 2029 because of the lack of a potent Opposition.
Modi was elected on the promise that he would revive India’s economy, and deal with
the structural problems that plagued Indian society, ranging from corruption to a lack of
educational and health facilities. In essence, he embodied the same hope that Rajiv
Gandhi once did for the electorate of India in 1984.
In the past eight years, Modi has not only failed to keep up to his promises but he is
also leading the country into a downward spiral. No sensible person will claim that the
country is headed in the right direction.
The politics of hate and violence that flourishes in our country is purely the result of
communal policies. The BJP seeks to systematically deprive 200 million Indians of their rights and relegate them to second-class status. A situation like this is not conducive to creating a thriving business environment in India because no one wants to invest in a place where people are constantly at each other’s throats.
The irony of this situation is that PM Narendra Modi and the BJP are celebrating our 75th
Independence Day with such great fanfare despite denigrating every democratic ideal our
Constitution and founders stood for. Modi seeks to project India on the world stage
as a ‘vibrant democracy in which all our citizens are treated equally but that is clearly not the case.
It’s important to understand that great societies aren’t built by pitting one community against another. When we erode India’s social fabric, we are destroying the very foundations upon which India is built. A nation is made up of its citizens, everything else comes afterwards. We can’t develop our economy or improve our living standards by depriving millions of Indians of their constitutional rights.
In 1947, when our nation was being founded, unlike Pakistan, we made a social contract
with our citizens that India would embody the principles of egalitarianism. Religious
tolerance and pluralism are the bedrock of Indian democracy, something which thousands of years of our civilisational history represent. In 2022, these principles are being blatantly violated.
As a young Indian today, when I look around the country, I don’t see anything to be hopeful about. Just look at the state of our roads, the unclean streets, the problem of
malnourishment among children, the slums that stand next to the skyscrapers, and the absence of proper schools and hospitals.
Today, our economy is in the doldrums, our living standards are abysmal, millions of our
youth are unemployed, and we are at our lowest point internationally. Was this how our
country was supposed to look 75 years after its Independence? Just 10 years ago, India was looked upon as a unique growth story internationally. Can we say the same now?
When we complete our 100 years of Independence, our country should be in a better state than it is now. Otherwise, the struggle for Independence was for nothing.
The author is a student at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Views are personal