Monday, August 14, 2023

The Journey of Independence


As the dawn of completion of 76 years of Independence Day approaches, there is much to feel happy about and also to brood over what lies ahead. The earliest memories go back to the days when the tricolor would be unfurled in the school followed by sweets and singing of some patriotic songs. The speech of the prime minister would be heard over the radio recounting the achievements and tribulations. Outside the kids would be busy flying kites and the sky would be festooned with all the hues and at times competing with the tricolored balloons released in the neighborhood. 

Those were the years when India went to war with its neighbors in 1962, 1965, and 1971 and the air would be filled with the stories of valor, award of medals of bravery, and heart saddened to see the lives lost. Lata Mangeshkar the legendary singer sang, ' Ai Mere Watan ki logo' before a jampacked audience at the National Stadium in Delhi in the presence of  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, which I vividly remember having attended as a child. A new nation Bangladesh was carved out of erstwhile East Pakistan and for the first time in recorded history, India had won a decisive war with the document of surrender from the Pakistan Army as a piece of evidence for posteriority. All these events were laying the foundations for pursuing a career in the Armed Forces at a later date.

India progressed with leaps and bounds as the 'Green Revolution' and the 'White Revolution' worked as miracles to feed the teeming millions added to the population. An ever-enthusiastic Sanjay Gandhi the son of Ms Indira Gandhi fulfilled his dream to launch a small car ' Maruti' for the Indians and to curb the rising population went on an overdrive to sterilize the young people. This coupled with the Allahabad High Court judgment cost Ms Gandhi her prime ministership. The dark era of " Emergency' followed while I was in college. It was a turbulent time as some of the students also went to jail, The country witnessed the emergence of a short-lived coalition government under Morarji Desai followed by Choudhary Charan Singh. Indira Gandhi returned to power and remained as the prime minister till her assassination in 1984 following ' Operation Bluestar' in Amritsar. Under Rajiv Gandhi, India entered the ' computer age' and never looked back regardless of who came into power. The following years saw rapid multi-dimensional progress including the emergence of the Satellite era and the entire world became a borderless entity. One could see pictures from across the world just by the flick of a remote on the TV screen.

India went through a very harrowing financial crisis in the early '90s when the then PM, P V Narasimha Rao, steered the country out of the financial mess. Another war was looming large when once again Pakistan opened the war front in Kargil. A befitting reply followed by the recapture of Tiger Hill by the valiant Indian Army. Atal Bihari Vajpayee the Indian poet Prime Minister took India to diplomatic heights. Congress once again was back in power under Manmohan Singh. Despite being a financial genius he could not add luster to the job at hand. On the contrary, a series of financial scams brought more disrepute than any accolades! The dynamic Chief Minister of Gujrat Narendra Modi assumed the Prime Minister's office and is firmly saddled for two consecutive terms. The daring feats like taking Pakistan terror camps head-on, demonetization of currency, abrogating Article 370, and resolving the long-standing Ram Mandir dispute are things that will go down the annals of history. Multi-prong development, making a common citizen into a netizen, and making technology and its benefits accessible to an ordinary man is still ongoing reforms.

All these memories flash past as if turning a kalidescope to see the changing images. 

 Indeed we are blessed to be born at a time to see the world transforming around us. From the times to standing in queue for rations and kerosene to travel in airconditioned metro rail there has been a quantum jump. There were times half a day was spent just paying an electricity bill or buying a rail ticket. Nowadays even the ordinary vendor on the street flashes a mobile and collects payment via Paytm. 

Notwithstanding the impediments that we encounter, it is my firm belief that the coming years of independent India will see huge changes to make our lives better and we will proudly  hold our heads high.

PS: Image kind courtesy Google