“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”As India completes 68 years of Independence, the relevance of Pt. Nehru’s speech as India’s first Prime Minister is at an all time high.
From a new nation to one of the fastest growing economies in the world, we have indeed come a long way but we are only half done. Let us take a look into the some of the most important changes that have happened since then.
Some of the earliest changes that took place after 1947 were the ascension of the princely states of Junagadh, Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir and the currently Indian states of Goa and union territory Pondicherry, to name a few. Greater challenges awaited us in the form of the wars of 1962 Indo-China war and 1971 Indo-Pakistan war which eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh. On other global frontiers, India also made its mark by becoming a self-sufficient nuclear power in 1974. We also could fuel the sustenance of our population with the Green Revolution and White Revolution (Operation Flood) of the early 1970s. Interestingly, as the nation was becoming self sufficient on one hand, the people were getting stifled in their own land. The period of Emergency saw the squandering of the hard won freedom of the Indian people but fortunately it was restored in 4 years. The economy continued to be shackled with high fiscal deficit, license raj and low investor confidence and eventually culminated in the economic crisis of 1991.
All these things together seemed to be the rock bottom which soon became the solid foundation of India’s growth story. 1991 was the year that started it all with the liberalisation of economy and opening up of Indian markets for the global trade. To this day, India remains a top destination emerging market in Asia and we continue to benefit from the foresight of the 1991 reforms.We went on to conduct a yet another successful nuclear test in 1998, soon after the golden jubilee of Indian independence. We were successful in the Kargil war of 1999 and the tradition of “Ye dilmaange more” continues to this day. The economy boomed until the global slowdown and while we continue to waver at times, it has not been something that we could not control. We continue to have the luxury of hope of seeing India become the next superpower.
Any state comes with an analysis of the past and goals for the future. With the right mix of structured efforts and sure goals, India will not only be independent but also emancipated. As our Prime Minister pointed out in his extempore speech at Red Fort, we need to re-adjust our focus in line with the newer challenges we face. We need to fix the flaws across the board in order for the machinery to function. A tiny cog could make all the difference that this country has been hoping for since the last 68 years. The vision our PM or Pradhan Sevak has for our great nation is indeed ambitious but who is to say how much can be achieved in what duration. With our rich history dating back to the first settlements by humans, it is time we combined our ancient wisdom with our present knowledge and develop a blend to fulfil all the dreams and aspirations of our uniquely diverse country.
Many departures from tradition happened this Independence day such as the absence of bulletproof glass around the podium and the PM interacting with the school children present at the Red Fort. With a leader who wants to be closer to the masses in the literal sense, we are yet again infused with our own brand of stimulus of hope for our country, our motherland. We will continue to march down the road of progress with hope in our hearts and fire in our souls, for hope is indeed the best thing we have. And as Robert Frost so wisely put it, we have miles to go before we sleep.