Jubilating in the spirit of freedom, as the nation celebrates its 71st year of independence from the British imperialist rule, we Indians are forced to ponder whether we are really enjoying a ‘liberated’ existence with a marked improvement in our conditions.
As with every nation that equates its present conditions with the state of affairs during the period of subservience to some foreign power, India, post-liberation, appeared to vindicate the stance maintained by the pro-British in the country that independence from the Raj was the biggest mistake in Indian history.
This mentality, initially, stonewalled the progressive approach of the new regime. Although India, as an independent nation, went about the shaping its future at a steady pace, the influence of the British in every sphere of administration was quite evident.
For example, Hindi, as a language of daily use in every government department, still suffers a step-motherly fate accorded to it by the popularity of English as the favoured language of communication. As the medium of instruction too, Hindi and other regional languages occupy the ‘second-language’ slot after English.
In fact, our administrative system draws inspiration from the British one, a ‘replica’ that it is. Our laws, a definite legacy of the British era, though berated as obsolete ones, continue to be recognized and maintained as standards for dispensing justice. Likewise, there are umpteen instances where the British influence is so visibly clear.
Without dwelling on those for long, let us now come to the crux of the matter! Slavery can never be anyone’s idea of a sane existence; hence the ardent wish to break the shackles of bondage infused in the harried Indians, then the will to align themselves with different perceptions of the freedom struggle.
So while the ‘ahimsa’ faction of the liberation movement looked down upon the violent struggles associated with the demands for freedom, there was an equal number who were convinced that non-violence alone could not win us independence.
This dissent manifested itself in different forms with politics often seen as that decisive force that brought about peace between the warring factions in the form of compromises. Under such circumstances, the feeling that the partition of India was the ‘fallout’ of one such compromise is not misplaced either!
However, the rift between the Hindus and Muslims in undivided India that eventually produced catastrophic results gave enough cannon fodder for future generation of politicians in India to exploit the communal harmony in the country to suit their ends.
The ‘unhealthy’ relation between various communities that precipitates into instant flare-ups is another example of the ‘ritual of compromises’ that describe the politics in the country today - drive a wedge between various religious factions and rule the roost!
Seeking freedom from the politician-infested milieu, the country today faces a crisis of conscience, in the sense that the inordinate delay in finding a leader of substance to lead it out from the depths of despair continues to pull it down further into the abyss of gloom.
Politics and those making an exhibition of excelling in the craft of managing the affairs of the state virtually hold the country to ransom. With politics being seen as that path to power where everything else dwindles in comparison, it is once again the obsession to hold sway over the population that has seen the entry of criminals and other unwanted elements into the portals of ‘governance’ in India.
So what ‘independence’ are we talking about!
If compelling the British to quit India was freedom, yes we are free! Yet, how realistic has this freedom been considering that even today a quintessential Indian is weighed down by thoughts of a ‘better tomorrow’ pervading his every sense! So much so that even a popular government that he votes for comes to power riding the slogan of ‘achche din’ ahead!
But, as citizens of this great country, what is our perception of the better days ahead? For example, our penchant for patronizing the cheap and indurable ‘Made in China’ products appears to override the ‘Make in India’ initiative of our PM which plainly puts a stress on the ‘Be Indian, buy Indian’ concept as one of the means to get over the crisis-ridden Indian economy.
Nor has the fact that we are engaged in a stand-off with China on border issues which threatens to blow up into a full scale war deterred the virtual swamping of the Indian markets with Chinese products!
Furthermore, the preference shown by many youngsters to pursue career prospects in the United States and the European Union after passing out from prestigious educational institutes in the country, which makes up for the Brain-drain witnessed, is another unfortunate trend that demeans any patriotic feeling one may harbour of them.
The argument that ‘this country is going to dogs’ in no way justifies the mass-exodus. With worsening conditions, if the country is indeed deteriorating, then there is a need to bring about a change in the system. Of course it is easily said than done, but if persistent efforts from a daring few could hasten the end of British Raj in India, tiding over the present ‘discomforts’ is not a big deal. Or so it would seem!
However, the predilection for leaving such tasks to others without contributing anything to the cause sadly epitomizes a typical Indian mindset today.
If a firm commitment by its citizens towards nation building saw an annihilated Japan reshaping itself on the global map after the ‘nuclear holocaust’, in sharp contrast, a complete lack of it sadly describes India’s approach to the issues at hand.
It is said that power is all about the ability to bring about quality change. It can either come through good governance or the collective will of the society. However, in the age of facebook, twitter and other social media tools which enable socially conscious people to bring about radical changes in the society we live in, it is once again the social media-savvy leaders and other politicians who use them to further their cause.
Barring a few instances, post-independence, India suffers from its ‘powerlessness’ to produce quality leaders and even if one, by some strange quirk of political fate, does loom large as an oasis in the barren land giving hope to the hapless, it proves to be nothing more than a mirage.
We need to understand that the ‘power factor’ in our country can be equated with politics, and politics alone. Our system of democracy has ensured that. If all attempts by its citizens to bring about sane and sensible governance come to a naught, and repeatedly at that, it once again gives indications of the country being held in ‘captivity’, albeit of another type, but enslavement no doubt.
It is this ‘monster’ that we should be directing our efforts against!(Published on 21st August 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 34)