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Window on India
August 17, 2006

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Celebrating 59 Years of Fredom - By Mr. Pratap Thorat

It is said that one must not worry about the potholes in the road and ought to celebrate the journey itself and it was precisely with this spirit that India celebrated the 59th anniversary of its independence on Tuesday. About a 300 million Indians, roughly the size of the US population, are yet to find two meals a day. Many from the farmers, who kept feeding the rest 800 million people, have started discovering comfort in suicide. Ear-drums are by now used to the assaults of the terrorist bomb blasts. The emerging technologies and the economic growth fall too short to control the frustration of even the qualified Indian youth. The number of children, who are required to slog under intimidation and adversity is formidable. Not to talk of the plight of the women. All this is true and remain the reminders of the bumpy ride ahead.

Yet it is not less important that the vehicle that India chose for its ride 59 years back - especially the one with the wheels of democracy, pluralism, science and technology - has remained intact. You are bound to make progress with science and technology, but not so surely with democracy and pluralism - especially the latter. But India has done that to a great extent even as the western democracies waited for long with frowns on their faces and hopes for failure of India's experiment in their mind. They were oblivious that despite the century-old bra-burning, the US was yet to produce a lady president and that India did it easily 40 years back, who too metamorphosed into a world leader making a lasting praise-worthy impression.

It is unfortunate that they failed to understand that in a global village that was about to emerge, it was in the interest of the whole of the humanity that such an experiment met with success. They couldnot imagine India more as a crucible than a nation, which was being heated up vigorously for a strong amalgamation and useful blending. The globe must co-exist in unity with the inevitable diversity of its religions, cultures, colours and to start with the varied standards of living.

The colonial British design of keeping the sub-continent busy with infighting was carefully carried through by the US. And it is to the credit of a materially ill-equipped India that it refused to allow its secular fibre weaken in this strife, for its commitment was stronger still. That explains why its responses to its internal sporadic violence masterminded from across the border are soft. There is a full realisation here that the misled local youth are only a handful and their support comes from only a microscopic section of their community and that in spite of such incidents the country has maintained its handsome economic growth over the years consistently. It emanates from the symbiotic dynamism of a billion people, whose wisdom is honed in the rough and tumble of centuries' old upheaval.

In the modern world, the wars are not fought with swords and machineguns and there is no need to acquire the enemy territory so that a nation's freedom could be put at peril. There are far more potent weapons like economic accords and sanctions, cultural invasion through TV channels and consumer products, round the clock monitoring of the enemy territories through the mind-boggling satellite eyes et al. In any celebration, therefore, when you jump with joy in the air, you have to ensure that no one is behind to move the ground from under your feet.