By Rohini Mohan
It’s been 60 years since India awoke to life and freedom. A land divided and conquered many times over, in the course of our history we willingly or unwittingly opened our borders to the Dravidians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Huns, the Moguls, the British, the Portuguese and the French. They each left their distinctive mark on our DNA, our culture, our language and our psyche. We morphed, we evolved, we progressed some and we regressed some. And through it all we developed a unique identity that we christened India, Bharat, Hindustan.
“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most astrictive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!”
Looks like somewhere along the way, we lost our bearings….
Things did not go so well for us in the decades after we eschewed the Raj. Sadly, the nationalistic fervor and the feeling of one-ness that gave birth to countless heroes in our struggle for independence got diluted in the petty politics and the rampant corruption that touched every facet of every life post 1947. For years we were written off as the third world, struggling to break free from the shackles of being the conquered. Racist and classist, we repressed the weak, creating a massive, ever widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots. Throwing secularism to the winds we wreaked havoc in the name of caste and religion. Cutting our nose to spite our face, we waged wars with every neighbor.
We built our brand on spirituality but nine cases out of ten, we had no idea what the word meant. Snake charmers, elephants and magic carpets were just not going to do it for our image, given that these were fighting the visuals of stark poverty, an indomitable population crisis and economic doldrums. Our best brains left us, and the ones that stayed effectively drained the system of its lifeblood.
But we found the silver lining in the cloud…
In the last dozen years or so, India rose like a phoenix from the ashes. One would be hard pressed to speculate whether it was the liberalization of the economy that spurred the growth or the deliberate urbanization; whether the spike is a result of the large foreign direct investment that is flooding into the country or the interest that is being taken in India by her prodigal sons and daughters who live abroad, whether this exciting new development is because of the thrust behind technical education and the boom in the IT and ITES sectors, or a large, growing, youthful labor force; India’s USP.
And we have arrived…
Growing at almost 9% a year, and slated to become the third largest world economy in the next 30 years, she has a long way to go, but there’s only one way India is headed; – up.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action–
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.
India has color and diversity. Warmth and hospitality. Razor sharp brains, high self esteem, pride and immense confidence. Energy and exuberance. Youth.
A Hindu cycle of life is made up of 60 new years and the 61st is supposed to be a repeat of one’s first year in many ways. It’s a time to celebrate, to renew vows, to start over. And that’s where India is poised today; young at 60.
Picture courtesy Creative Commons