Thursday, August 19, 2010

Freedom for a Nation

Sixty-three years ago, the Union Jack was taken down from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in Delhi, and the Indian Tricolour hoisted in its place. After a long freedom struggle, the nation attained independence. For the first time ever, the nation was in charge of its own destiny. People dared dream big dreams. Social equality, education for all, an end to poverty, basic healthcare- dreams that people took for granted.

Sixty-three years later, we have failed on all counts. Vote bank politics have ensured that the country is still divided along caste, communal and linguistic lines. Our institutions of higher education may compare with the best in the world, but more than half the population of the country is functionally illiterate. Grinding poverty still forces millions of people to migrate from villages every year, despite the squalid conditions under which they are forced to live in the cities. And basic healthcare for all is as distant a dream today as it ever was. And add to it all a new problem- corruption across levels in all walks of life.

Has India, as a nation, failed?

Easy question. Difficult answer.

As a nation, India has failed to deliver on all the promises it made to its citizens. But despite everything, the people of India have survived. There are inequities and there is poverty, but at least in the cities, there are more people fighting to stay ahead of poverty than are people waiting for the government to bale them out. If only there was a way to wish away corruption, the people may just be able to make good the promises that the nation made to them.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

A most stirring post Rayna, Yes you gained indpendance from Britain and I think as you say the cities have done well, but there must be hope for the rural communities, Failure is not a pleasant word but it's taking time to get there may be more appropriate, By the way before and during my father's courtship with my mother he was stationed for many years in the army in India.

Good to read, have a lovely day

Margot Kinberg said...

Rayna - What a thoughtful and fascinating post! I have always admired the way the people of India have gone on and have created a truly unique group of cultures and way of looking at life. I think the first step to resolving any nation's inequities is to bravely admit that they are there and commit to resolving them. The problem is, of course, that that is a lot easier to say than to do...

Laura Eno said...

Dare to keep dreaming. The world suffers from the same inequities and corruption as India. I'm still dreaming of a time when we can all be equal as a people of Earth.

Deb and Barbara said...

I agree with Yvonne's point: I think it's just taking longer than was originally hoped, but the momentum is still there. If people keep the momentum going, progress will be made.

You expressed this dilemma so well; I feel your frustration and also your hope.


Hart Johnson said...

I love your India posts, Natasha. And I think the judgment is perhaps too harsh. I don't think you should be asking 'have you succeeded in the goals' (the richest nation in the world, of which I am a citizen, has NOT) ask how far you've come.

Jemi Fraser said...

It's so hard to see such glorious dreams get eroded by politics, time, money and red tape. I assume those contribute to India's dilemma's as they contribute to ours. Here's to improvements in the future.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Waiting for a government handout seems to be a common theme. Glad more people there are trying to get out of poverty by working.

Jen said...

What a very inspiring and eye opening post. I have to be honest I rarely spend time to thinking about what's actually happening in my city so thinking of countries never comes mind.

It's sad that I'm oblivious but if I am, imagine how many others are the same way. I have to say that this was really special, thank you for opening my mind to other things!

Happy Thursday!

Clarissa Draper said...

Yeah, often countries do not live up to the expectations. I know that Mexico is really suffering right now. I feel bad for those trying to stay afloat.


Theres just life said...

I'm with Laura Keep on Dreaming. With out a dream and a goal, you will never make it. As long as the dream is alive the chance to make it happen is there.

Talli Roland said...

What an interesting post. Funny, my husband and I were just talking about this. He's Egyptian we were talking about countries like Egypt and India after the 'Empire' pulled out. His assessment of Egypt was much like yours of India.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Yvonne - I didn't know about your India connection! And it is really sad to see the skewed development.

@ Margot- if you can see that, and I can see that, why don't the majority of people see it. We thump ourselves on the back because of small successes, without realising that when the majority is merely surviving, it cannot be a good thing

@ Laura- sometimes I wonder if dreaming of a decent standard of living for all is too much to ask for

@ Barbara - I guess that is true. It is just that my expectations seem too high

@ Hart- we have come far, but had we been able to avoid the corrupt systems we have, we could have come so much further. That is what saddens me so much about my country

@ Jemi- I'll drink to that.

@ Alex- I don't think anyone does that any longer- they know it is never going to come

@ Jen- thank you. What you says means so much to me.

@ Clarissa- it is a pathetic state to be in. Today, I was passing by a section where there are many rag-pickers and I found myself wondering how and why they have the strength to live

@ Theres just life- the converse is definitely true - unless you dream, you can't achieve. So dreaming is better than nothing

@ Talli- Egypt and India are very similar countries, with essentially very similar problems.


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