CELEBRATING OUR INDEPENDENCE – A BRIEF RETROSPECT
Dr Cyriac Maprayil
In the warped view of unpatriotic and anti-Indian elements at home and abroad, India would always remain illiterate, poor, corrupt, and caste ridden. But a glance backwards will reveal that India has little to be ashamed of. We will reverse the aphorism, that you must not let the facts spoil a good story, by giving prominence to the facts, which by themselves, tell and encouraging Indian story of remarkable progress in the face of some fearsome obstacles.
Literacy and Education
Despite the fact that, India still has a very high illiteracy rate, certainly in comparison with China it made commendable progress in expanding educational opportunities India has over 1000 universities and more are in the pipeline. In many states in India education is absolutely free and the number of individuals entering higher education is about 5,000,000 annually.
India has eliminated the appalling famines that were such a conspicuous feature of British colonial rule. Rising from such past, today, India also has an enviable grain surplus. India's green revolution has enabled it for the first time after nearly 300 years of foreign occupations to look after the food needs of its 1 billion people.
India, free of the exploitation of foreign rule and occupation, has moved rapidly and responsibly towards industrialization. Thanks to the huge investments in education, research and training by the early socialist governments, India is among the leading industrialised nations in the world with as many scientists, technologists, and engineers as the United States. With a relatively efficient industry, India exports thousands of highly sophisticated items throughout the world, ranging from textiles to optics, at which India is one of the world's leaders. India has also emerged as a major player in the manufacture and export of both computer hardware and software.
Development and Change
India was one of the first countries to incorporate gender equality in its constitution –
perhaps the most democratic in the world. While economic and political discrimination against women was at its most primitive in the so called liberal West, the Indian constitution decreed that the same wages will apply for the same job, regardless of gender, caste or religion. Long before the emergence of female and feminist politicians in the West, India had some distinguished women in top ministerial positions. One of the stalwarts of the Indian resistance was the great Sarojini Naidu. Millions of Indian women played a leading role, in the non-violent resistance to British Rule led by Mahatma Gandhi.
Secular democracy is not new to India. Democratic practices were in place in India even before the ancient Greeks developed it. Had democracy been a foreign and irrelevant implant it is highly unlikely that the Indian people, rational and of a most equable temperament, would have allowed it to take such deep root in their political soil. India has always had a free Press, free trade unions, freedom of worship, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Indians are quite rightly proud of their democracy the largest in the world.
India has defied powerful ideological blocs in its efforts to foster a favourable climate for the creation of a new economic, social, cultural, educational, political and information order based on justice morality dignity and respect for human rights. But there is still a great deal to be done in India itself, particularly in respect of slum clearance, provision of drinking water, the elimination of corruption and child labour and protection of the environment. I have no doubt that the 100th anniversary of the Republic will be the occasion for celebration of the attainment of these targets