Monday, August 15, 2016

What are we celebrating

On 15th August, 2016, India celebrates its 70th Independence day. Not sure whether they counted from 1947 being the first, as in 1997, we celebrated the Golden jubilee of Indian independence. That was also the year A R Rahman released his landmark album Vande Mataram, and why I remember that year so much, apart from Jack and Rose.  But that's not the point. These many years from the read letter day, how far have we come ? Where do we see ourselves going ? And exactly what are we celebrating ?
Growing up in India, I read in our NCERT textbooks, that India is a developing country, while countries like America and Britain are developed countries. All the students in the class asked the question, when will India too become a developed country ? The naive teacher replied, “Soon, in a few more years”, or something like that. Today it is becoming increasingly obvious that that dream has now drifted farther away from reality.

Surprisingly, it is reporte that poverty levels have actually gone down.

But these are global parameters to measure a country’s development. India seems to be facing a bigger problem at the heart of its social fabric. Violence against women has been rising exponentially.
Communal violence is on the rise, specially agains dalits (lower caste members). There are more separatist movements and people are asking for the country to be further divided. The 29th state was created by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, and there is actually a huge list of proposed further division of the country.  India is the second least corrupt country in the whole of South Asia.  With the advent of internet and social media, the country has found a new way to curb free speech, by censoring internet traffic.  As of this writing, the largest democracy in the world has still not been able to win a medal in the ongoing Rio Olympics. There have always been, and will be , natural calamities, but the country is becoming slower to respond to them, often leaving the job to citizen’s movements. And terrorism, the age old enemey of the country, is finding newer ways to intrude into the country.
So, what are we actually celebrating ? Independence day has just become one more reason to shop, and the ever-deal-chasing Indians are frantically trying to purchase more things before time runs out. People are worried to go out, fearing possible terrorist attacks in places where crowds congregate.
One thing is sure, the NCERT textbooks students learn from today will still be the same from over 30 years ago. Hardly anything has changed. We are still developing.

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