India’s 70-year journey has been an amalgamation of historic successes and some crucial failures; of conflicts and peace; of boycott by nations and of their whole-hearted acceptance; of eradicating certain evils and still living with some; in a nutshell, this journey of ours should make us proud, for we are the descendants of the most glorious of traditions and a part of the world’s largest democracy. Let’s see some of our greatest achievements.
By far the biggest achievement is that despite numerous invaders who looted us and vandalised our heritage including the British, we managed to stay together and emerge a sovereign nation in 1947.
The merger of560 small princely states into the Union of India without the spilling of a blood drop or a bullet being fired is another tremendous achievement we should be proud of.
We are the only nation in the world that gave every adult the right to vote from its first day. Even the US, that regularly refers to itself as the ‘greatest democracy on Earth’, gave this right more than 150 years after its independence.
We were primarily an importer of food grains after independence and even depended on international food aid till the 1960s. Today, we are a self-sufficient nation in food production and even export certain food grains. Along with this, we are the largest producer of fresh fruits, milk, pulses and oil seeds, sunflower seeds, and the second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugarcane, potato, tea, cotton, etc., in the world.
Life expectancy when we became independent was just 32 years; today it is 69 years. Literacy rate was a mere 12% when the British left; today it is 74%. These achievements shouldn’t be underestimated considering the fact that we comprise more than 17% of the world population.
Despite struggling with poverty, we had to deal with internal threats and serious external threats in the form of Pakistan and China. Irrespective of this, today, India is the world’s 4th strongest military and has the world’s largest standing volunteer army.
India has fought 4 wars with its neighbours – 3 against Pakistan and one against China. We did lose the war against China, but that wasn’t a weakness of the armed forces; the political leadership was blamed for the defeat as it interfered with the military leadership. But we also mustn’t forget the bloody nose we gave China in 1967. Other than this, India trounced Pakistan in 1965, 1971 and 1999.
ISRO successfully reached Mars. This meant India becoming just the fourth nation in the world to achieve this milestone, the first Asian nation to do so, and the first nation in the world to do the same in its first attempt. This has got to be one of the most glorious of achievements in our history which left the world gaping in awe. India is also among the five nations to send an unmanned mission to moon.
India is one of the only four countries that refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on matter of principle yet is availed with almost all benefits of nuclear technology. Ours is the only country to launch a nuclear submarine other than the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
We are today the fastest growing large economy in the world. We are the 6th largest economy in the world; expected to become the 4th largest by 2022; and the second largest only behind China by 2050.
There are numerous other achievements, big and small, that can’t possibly be listed in this article. But the facts listed reasonably sum up our major achievements through a variety of fields. The talk can’t be complete without a mention of where we’re headed and what challenges lie ahead of us.
Two serious issues facing our nation are the lack of proper electricity supply and public sanitation. Till before 2014, these challenges seemed mammoth. But the Narendra Modi government has made incredible headway in both departments. Of the 18,400-odd villages that were kept in dark since independence, around 14,000 have already been electrified. The government has also set a task to provide 24/7 electricity throughout the nation in another 3 to 4 years’ time. As far as public sanitation is concerned, the government has built toilets in villages and schools on a priority basis. Still a lot needs to be done in this field, but at least now the challenge doesn’t seem insurmountable.
Arguably the most overwhelming of challenges for India in the coming years are eliminating poverty and establishing a robust public education and healthcare system. Industrialisation is a tried and tested method to reduce poverty rapidly as it ensures employment in large numbers and to the poor, unlike, let’s say the IT sector that primarily employs educated people. With the ‘Make in India’ initiative gaining momentum and India becoming the largest recipient of FDI beating China, India is expected to see rapid industrialisation and even self-sufficiency as far as manufactured products are concerned. Although, significant and long-ranging steps still need to be taken to overhaul the public healthcare and education system on which depend the poor. This is undoubtedly the most daunting challenge for us.
Even though there are constant accusations by certain entities and people that India lacks freedom of speech and is not a safe place for minorities, this is nothing but propaganda to further personal agenda. There is no substance in these accusations and India is one of the freest nations in these aspects as we’ve seen people openly abusing the President, the Prime Minister and even the armed forces and yet not facing any backlash. Whether it be Muslims or Christians (the two groups that are always at the core of the minorities-are-not-safe rhetoric), they both have thrived in India and will continue to.
The road ahead for India is very bright (definitely brighter than what would have seemed maybe a decade ago). We’ve entered the spotlight on the global stage. We are now being looked at as crucial geopolitical and economic partners. The opportunity is there and it is for us to capture it. Fortunately, under the current administration of Prime Minister Modi, it would be appropriate to say that India is beginning to realise it’s true potential.
One request – This day wouldn’t be a reality had it not been for our soldiers who safeguard us against our enemies. They are responsible for keeping our flag flying high. So, let’s dedicate this Independence Day to them and their families. Let’s do it by making our contribution to the families of our martyrs on the bharatkeveer.gov.in portal.
Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Independence Day from the Postcard Team!
Bharat Mata ji Jai! Jai Hind! Vande Mataram!