Today is 15th August. It is a date with destiny. A total of 6 countries got Independence on this date in different years. You can say they were destined too.
The Two Koreas
and my country, India.
The largest and the most vibrant democracy in the world. A country that is diverse in every single sense.
Geographically, Socially, Culturally, Linguistically.
Since Colonial Rule, a nation of 1.3 Billion people will celebrate the fact that they have proven wrong every Western Commentator who predicted doom upon a young country in the late 1940s, all the way up to even 1970s.
75 Years ago at midnight India made tryst with destiny. An independent India was born.
Drained and Divided but desperate to make on its own.
How would one describe this journey of seven and a half decades?
Its been a staggering, astonishing, colossal and a monumental journey this past 75 years. And no what foundations, morals a man or a country shows; it all boils down to
The British crown looted 45 Trillion dollars from India. From raw materials to the Kohinoor diamond. The British took it all. The thumbs of weavers were cut off. Indian peasants were crushed. The brightest jewel in British crown was left with a prospect of a dim future.
At the time of Independence the per capita Income of India was Rs. 230/- i.e 2.89 dollars. The average income was 1/15th of what an average American earned. There was poverty, hunger. The task before India was to lift itself.
And it did.
There was rapid Industrialisation. Three successful revolutions.
Green revolution (1960) – India saw an increase in food grain production.
White revolution (1970) – India began the world’s largest dairy development program. Today India is world’s largest milk producer.
Blue Revolution – Rise in Aquaculture production
India opened itself to the world in 1991. The economy opened its doors for Free Trade with the Foreign investors. Globalised its Economy. Privatised its banks. And 75 years later India is one of the world’s largest leading economies.
From less than 3 dollars, India’s global per capita income has grown to almost 2000. Its share in the world GDP is 3.28%
7 Decades back India was an import dependent country. Today more and more global companies are Making in India or want to make in India.
India somehow successfully navigated the cold war. It became a political force for decolonisation.
India liberated Bangladesh. It reached out to Africa, successfully de-hyphenated Israel and Palestine. Struck strategic partnership with the gulf.
Today world powers see India as an important partner. A leading voice in International politics and forums.
The Face of Peace.
Of course the journey has been more than just hard. There were huge security issues right from the day go, almost moving along like a shadow.
In 1948 – Pakistan’s incursion into Kashmir
In 1962 – The war with China over Tibet and Dalai Lama crossing over into India three years ago then.
1965 – Weakened India tested again by the Pakistan forces.
1971 – The major war with Pakistan to liberate what today is known as Bangladesh.
1999 – The Kargil War with Pakistani troops
2020 – The stand off with Chinese forces in Doklam, later Galwan and which is still very much ongoing on the Border in Eastern Laddakh.
But on every single occasion India showed the world that its capable of defending itself. Capable of resisting any attempt to redraw its map.
India taught the world tolerance, Universal acceptance and none of it was easy.
Winston Churchill, former UK PM had dismissed India’s experiment with self-governance, why? Because India was socially diverse.
More than 22 languages,
numerous religions and numerous regions.
Churchill said, India is merely a geographical expression. It is not a single country than the equator. He was convinced that the Independent India wont be able to stay together. And well,
Churchill was wrong.
India remains united and grows stronger with every passing year. Its success as a secular state has surprised many. Of course there have been ups and downs.
India survived partition. Assassinations of its three prime leaders. One outside India. Operation Blue star and many small and big riots. But which country does not go through any of this, and which country can even claim to be this diverse.
None on this planet.
In the initial years post independence it was tough keeping such a huge country together. One of the biggest challenges was public health or the lack of it.
In 1947, the average life expectancy in India was 32 years. There was a rampant spread of communicable diseases like malaria and Tuberculosis.
In 1947, India registered 75 million cases of Malaria. Its total population was 330 million. Almost 23% of its population had malaria.
By 1964, the numbers came down but then Polio arrived. Until mid 1990s everyday around 500 children were getting paralysed. But India fought it. And was declared Polio free by 2014. Today, eradication of Polio is a case study of healthcare success for the world.
India also eradicated Small pox and as we read this, India is running one of the largest vaccination program.
India’s health care system is one of its biggest achievements. We hardly appreciate it because there’s lot that is not right. But when you look where we started, the achievements look astounding.
The life expectancy since Independence has gone over 100% from 32 years to 70.19 years. This is one of the most important Indecators of human development. Today India is called the world’s pharmacy. She exports medicines to almost 200 countries and regions.
Also most notable achievements came in TECHNOLOGY.
India decided to go to space just 17 years after Independence. It set up Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR). India’s first rocket launch happened in 1963, from a town called Thumba. The rocket parts were transported in bicycle and bullock carts. Today, India is a well established space power. It has reached Mars.
India was also the first country outside the permanent UNSC members to test a nuclear bomb. And it did this despite the world’s best efforts to derail it. Reports say, that the CIA killed an Indian Scientist only to road block the nuclear journey. But as children growing up in poor India, the stories we learnt was the ‘How’ we conducted the nuclear tests.
The US had deployed a satellite over India to spy. Every 12 hours it would return. So the work done on the nuclear site was done during the night and equipment would return in the morning to its original place to evade the detection by the US satellites. Code names were used. The thermonuclear device for example was placed in a shaft named ‘White House’.
On 18th May 1974, India took the world by surprise. Out of nowhere the news of success of the nuclear tests arrived. India became a nuclear power. And the operation was called ‘Smiling Buddha’.
The director of the India Nuclear Research Institute, Raja Ramanna told the then PM Indira Gandhi, Buddha has smiled.
Also read : The Sins of America
How did India achieve all this? First, Democracy and second, Literacy.
From the very first day after Independence every adult in India had the right to vote. And just for reference it took the US 150 years to adopt Universal Adult franchise. In the last 75 years Indian population has grown from 370 million to 1.3 billion. States have been reorganised. But the sanctity of elections have never been compromised. They are chaotic yes, even controversial but they are held without fail every five years.
Also read: At War with the Truth. Afghanistan and her Killers
There have been dark periods like the emergency in 1975, Operation Blue Star, Riots somewhere or the other but it did not last and that is the thing about India’s story. Its far from perfect. There is corruption, inefficiency and everything else that we keep complaining about yet India’s democracy has delivered.
It has elevated poverty, built world class infrastructure and sent Indians to space. To winning beauty pageants, gold medals and to lead world’s biggest companies.
Also read: One time at a Rural School in India
Literacy has played an important role here. When India became independent 4 out of 5 people could not read. The literacy rate was around 9%. For India to grow it had to educate its people. It made free education a fundamental right. Schemes like
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Educate All Mission)
Mid Day Meal
insured that the children found their way to schools. India expanded its infrastructure. In 1947, India had only
28 medical schools,
4 Dental Colleges,
33 Engineering Colleges
Today, they are over 6000.
Today, the India that could neither read or write is now the world’s biggest talent pool. Top Engineers, doctors, Indian origin CEO’s all bear testimony to India’s growth and transformation.
Today India is home to 1.4 Billion people. Its progressive yet rooted in its Culture and Values. It is home to the world’s youngest population, World largest democracy, World’s largest Film Industry, World’s largest diaspora population, World’s largest Road network, Leader in Climate Action. A market that every company wants to enter and a strategic force that every government wants to partner.
Today as India celebrates its historical achievements. It also has a clear vision of the future.
This is India at 75
: ँ :
If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste
: ँ :
I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;
As a co-traveller, my Ten Lessons from several years on the road, before you coarse on your own Road to Nara.
: ँ :
Also, You will be to know about My Little School Project. If you wish to come over for a visit someday, that you must, you will be heartily welcome here
If you would like to contribute to my travels, you can please do so here
: ँ :
If you have anything to share, or feel like saying a hello, please feel free to write to me at email@example.com
To visit other long-term photographic works, please visit here.
: ँ :
Research and Content from various Sources and Publications