AN INDEPENDENCE DAY OF HOPE
India celebrated its sixty-fifth Independence Day on August 15, 2014. The world’s most unique country, its largest functioning democracy, a country which has been given no hope of surviving into its second decade after it wrested freedom from colonial rule in 1947, a country which is home to at least twenty different languages and cultures, a country of contradictions, a country which is a an outlier on every political scientist’s graph, a country which has no business staying as one unit by any known model of sociology or politics – has survived.
And it is taking the first steps towards era in which she expects to thrive.
The sun is moving eastward. China is emerging as one of global economy’s strongest players, and along with Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil, intends to form a bloc that challenges the supremacy of the United States. India has demographic advantage: a large percentage of her citizenry are in their twenties, so over the next thirty years, there is a significant amount of economic energy waiting to be tapped.
To add to that, when it went to national polls in April, India voted almost unanimously for a forward-looking, growth-centric government with Narendra Modi at its head. In his Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister didn’t mention subsidies, unity in diversity, or Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. His topics of conversation were financial inclusion, growth of the manufacturing sector, practising hygiene and cleanliness, and taking India into an era in which she can stand up and be counted among the world’s leading countries.
In that sense alone this was an Independence Day tinged generously with hope. For the first time in its history, India appears to think beyond diversity and about unity. The young people of India do not care about regional, caste and religion differences as much as the older generation did – maybe it’s the flurry of youth – so a government that speaks the language of economic and financial growth has the listening ear of all. Yes, there are some dissenters, some who cloud their faces with fears of communalism – because the BJP has deep roots within the RSS – but the overall sentiment is one of fervent optimism.
And hope. Yes, there’s hope everywhere you look today in India.
A belated Happy Independence Day, everyone.