A lot has happened in my country in six decades. There were the Nehruvian years when, as a leader of the Non-aligned Movement, India was a force to reckon with in the world. Then came the years when India strugged with internal and external deamons- when the vicious cycle of poverty and population sought to pull the nation under. Political upheavals, religious tension and parochialism did them bit too. And then the upturn of the last few years - where the nation has started discovering its sense of self, and has started looking for solutions rather than trying to pin the blame.
I have been lucky to be a part of the new India. An India which accepts that most institutions have failed to deliver, and which is looking for alternatives. The government machinery has failed miserably in providing primary education, but NGOs are working with government to meet that pressing need. India was once described as the land of beggars; they haven't disappeared, but many of them have morphed into small-time salesmen.
Affordable healthcare is non-existant, basic infrastructure remains a distant dream, the percantage of women in the workplace has gone up despite the lack of adequte childcare facilities rather than because of it, politics continues to be dominated by a few families. But, India, today, is an optimistic nation. A nation determined to succeed.
Even ten years back, Indians defined success as 'getting out of the country'. Today, it is possible to be proud to be an Indian in India.
Happy Birthday, Motherland.
[I took the photograph outside a station at Christmas time. The lady selling Santa hats is someone who, a couple of years back, would have been extending her palms for alms. She may make only as much money today as she did when she used to beg, but today she is earning a living. To me, that is progress, however small.]