In a recent media interview, the US president hailed the US military precision drone strike that killed the top Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a counter-terror operation as a necessity and one that had been long due. In an effort to justify such unilateral action, he highlighted how his country could go to any extent, where the national sovereignty and safety of the people were concerned. These impregnable statements and operations can only be possible when a country is efficient enough to dictate its terms in the international arena as a hegemon.
75 years back, when we attained independence, at the stroke of midnight on 15th August, as a nascent nation, we beseeched ourselves to rise and shine from centuries-long oppression and grow to towering heights. But have we risen from the slumber of inertia even after 75 years of attaining freedom?
And as our nation is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, do we analyze the fact that there’s much to be achieved and miles to be travelled before daring to portray similar audacity on the international forum?
Even we, as a country, have shown our might on occasions: by blowing the bugle for instance at Balakot and border areas of Myanmar post Pulwama, Uri and similar debacle in the north east, as counter terror operations in the enemy territory. In future too, India is bound to strive forward in different arenas and scopes with utter excellence and exemplify its power to be a part of the elite space of the new world order. Thus, we have a fixture ready, of rising India in times to come. And in the hindsight, let’s deliberate to figure out what exactly we have carved out for ourselves in these 75 years.
There are a bunch of countries like India, mostly from the commonwealth lineage, that freed themselves from the shackles of slavery at almost the same time as we did, and came to be grouped under the banner of third world countries. However, India has been forging by leaps and bounds, as a bastion, in all the concerned fields or areas of development and progress than these mere group members. Not only these handful of counterparts, but also the top world leaders like the USA, EU and even China have been forced to have their heads turned, at times, to digest India’s fast ballooning might. The Russia-Ukraine war and India’s open stand on it, has been a testimony to this.
Understanding ourselves is of utter significance and what we, as a nation, have achieved cannot be ignored. Having a millennium of credibility, we house 2.4% of the global area and 17% of the world population. And ours is a country where there is diversity, in terms of dialect, culture, tradition, food, etc. throughout the heartland. Despite of having such complex system and structure, along with grueling challenges every now and then, we are becoming a force to reckon with; as we enter our 76th year of independence. The experience and trials of the past have made us undergo a transition from a fledging republic to a mature democracy.
With the changes brought about at the initiative of the planning commission in the first few decades to India adopting an open door-policy in 1991, the country has come a long way. With the objectives initially being centered around agricultural self-sufficiency, industrial growth and welfare of the disadvantaged class, our nation has achieved decent heights.
Where the world today is gripped with acute food shortages, induced as a result of Russian invasion of Ukraine, India is one of the few countries which has not been left to fend for itself. This has all been a result of India’s First Five Year Plan’s objectives and its subsequent endeavors like the green revolution to make the country food secure and capable of feeding so many mouths. Besides, Operation flood also ‘flooded’ India with milk enough to keep the dairy Industry flourishing till date. Adding another feather to its cap, India became one of the only nations in the world to have nuclear weapons in its arsenal, showing the world its military readiness and might! With once being subjugated under the banner of British army, Indians have now leapt forward to have the fourth largest and strongest army in the world, with ample expenditure being spent on constantly ameliorating the forces for the better.
And during this commonwealth games in Birmingham, the Indians had their spirits held high, bringing bling of medals. India, which had previously been an under-performer in all sorts of sporting events held at the global stage, has now become adept, winning overall of 61 medals in the ibid fixture. Even in the Olympics and Paralympics, we have been striving hard and trying to reach on the medal tally boards, with propitious governmental policies like Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) continually supporting the athletes to bring laurels and honours, to make our sport enclave rejoice on the ‘once-distant’ dream!
For a country that had been left de-industrialised, looted of its wealth and confidence, and cast aside to cope up with its perpetual state of poverty and hunger, being counted on the fingertips as one of the great forces to reckon with, is certainly a big deal. As one of the largest economies of the world, India is now heartily welcoming companies to ‘Make in India’ than depending upon others to be aided with imports! It is now being treated as a noteworthy competitor in the world, with an important say and stake in the global affairs. As an amiable member for strategic partnerships for top-performing countries, our nation is leaving no stone unturned in leaving a mark in the pages of history! From having warm relations with the gulf to embracing consortium with the QUAD members, India has been able to garner support and alliance on notable occasions, like the UNSC meets held on various agendas. The certitude that it has been able to stick to its ideals of promoting peace, democracy, counter-terrorism and climate-friendly goals, despite of the obstacles that it might have faced, has been assuring of the journey that lies ahead.
Aspects that cannot be overlooked at all, when it comes to talking about India’s progress are its advancements made in the field of human resource development. With illiteracy having its reach in the nooks and corners of the country initially, India has been able to leap forward to a soothing figure of 77% in its 75 years of being free in true sense. This has been achievable, courtsey of fulfilling schemes like Sarv Siksha Abhiyan and Mid-day Meal project. Besides this, the health sector too has prospered and the fact that endemic diseases like polio and small pox have been eradicated, stand testimony to the levels to which the world has been surprised of the way the field has developed, in a matter of few decades. Even the life expectancy has increased to a great extent, with the average age being around 70 years.
So, India, in the midst of its seventh decade as an independent nation, has had a commendable trajectory so far but there have always been some issues to ponder over. For instance, have we, being a nuclear power, been able to use even an iota of indigenous nuclear resources for power or energy needs? And have we, in reality, been able to be food secure, filling bellies of 1.3 bn people? Likewise, it’s not viable to speak about India’s economic rise when the rupee’s value is falling considerably, in comparison to the standard value of the US dollar, not providing an upper hand in foreign trade and exchange.
It will be undeniable to say that India has had a plain and easy journey as there have been many rough patches or road blocks on the way as well. For a country, as assorted as ours, it has not been easy to keep the dopamine levels of regional diversity balanced.
Therefore, image of India is still of a developing nation, trying hard to attain a hegemony in the Asia pacific and the world as a whole. We need a transition from being called a young republic to a mature rock-solid nation to reach the goals we have set for ourselves, on this platinum jubilee. This would not come with only the NITI Aayog’s intervention or the bureaucracy’s mantle, but with the citizens’ ‘will’ and resolve to rise above everything in all the spheres, to build a more vibrant and stronger India in this inclusive and equitable international order, on the occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, on the eve of its 75th year of independence.