It has been sixty years, sixty long years since this country regained its independence. A country now essentially governed by us, the people of the nation. It is we who choose those who govern us and it is we who are the basis, the foundation and the strength of our country, and those of our elected leaders. And hence what befalls it, whether it be good or bad, lies in our hands.
Every year, the 15th of august is celebrated not only to joyously remember the sacrifices our forefathers made, but to instil in us an essence of humility in the recognition that we fell from a great height, that from the golden crane we became a nation imprisoned and now we must march towards a future that one day, might take us back to where we were hailed not as world leaders but nation builders. It is a time of not only celebrating and lauding the achievements but also of retrospection and reflection.
I know, we have again and again heard of the success stories of our country and at the same time we know of the areas in which we have failed.
We are now self reliant in food production and are now an export powerhouse. The manufacturing industry is growing at record 12%, the national production at more than 8% year on year for the last 3 years. The number of unemployed is at an historic low. Whether it be defense, the services or the hospitality industry, research in space; pharmacology, we have been taking great strides towards ever higher ideals.
On the other hand, there are still millions who go unfed every day, day after day. To quote numbers, 200 million suffer from malnutrition and about a quarter are on the brink of starvation. The unemployed may be at a low of 7.3%, but it still comprises of around 80 million people.
I could go on and on, but we are all acquainted with the truth. While the former is a matter of great pride, the latter forms a subject of recriminations time and again. A blame game played every year which intensifies in its acrimony until the issues fade, forgotten, only to be hedged up again the next year.
There is so much that all of us can do, and there is so much that so many want to do but cant. We all forget that the most important and the easiest thing that we can do and is within the reach of each of our hands, our right to vote. I pray that we all get an opportunity to do more, to serve our country in more ways, but I would always pray first that I not lose my right to choose who leads me and my nation.
Our independence day, the 15th of August, was not about politics, it was about giving millions and millions of people the most basic fundamental right identified by and demanded by each and every human being in this world; The right to freedom. Isn’t it time that we take it upon ourselves to honour it.
National days are events of retrospection and reflection. When we are supposed to look back and cogitate what has gone right, and what is going wrong and why so. Celebrating it with marches and displays of power are all fine, but it is imperative that we grasp the essence of our Independence Day. Today, we have been able to become self-sufficient in our food production capacity, and are slowly but steadily spreading our wings towards new horizons in our search for new frontiers, whether they be alternative energy or space. Our country has been growing at a rate of almost 8-10% this past decade and can hope to further improve in the imminent future.
Till a few years back, our institutions used to keep going on and on about the brain drain present in the country, about how the best brains always chose to head outside the country; today, however, the trends seem to have changed with the top brains opting to work in the country towards a better and brighter tomorrow. With a booming industrial graph, the race to the top has just gained pace. Like trends already seen in more developed countries the service industry has seen a high growth rate and hence accounts for a larger share in employment of citizens. And, Hospitality as a part of this major sector can, and is generating a lot of new jobs and hence playing a very significant part.
However this does bring to mind the other half of the equation. The huge part of our population still below the poverty line, that part which has to do without basic education and medical facilities; that strata of our society that doesn’t have a roof over its head, and doesn’t have a way to meaningfully employ itself.
Today when we look for lucrative offers in the job market, why is it that we always look towards the MNCs and International Companies? Why is it that we are still enchanted and drawn to the development of some other country rather than ours?
Or for that matter, since we do belong to the food industry, why is it that we aren’t quite able to assert our independence from Western Cultural imperialism in the form of Mc. Donalds, KFCs or Pizza Huts? Our food is one of the representatives of our culture, forever absorbing – be it Indian Chinese, Tandoori or Tea... But, where do we go from here? We’ve been a nation which is confident in its identity because we imbibe people and their culture... Will we be able to imbibe these new influences, or will they overcome us? Will we be able to maintain our independence here?
Be it thinking about children, about whom no one cares when they disappear, to never come back, or be it standing up against corruption which we ourselves foster. Be it not littering the roads, or helping the aged cross the road. India may be shining, but all of it is not and our conscience should not rest till then. Think about it, for you are free; you shall be free only till you think.
Because, the Independence Day is not just another holiday.