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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 40

Independence of Contradictions

Wednesday 26 September 2007, by Amna Mirza


Here comes the echo of celebration of sixty years of India’s Independence. The by-lanes of history have another story to tell. Fifteenth August, 1945 was the day when the Second World War came to an end, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. The aftermath of the nuclear holocaust continues to haunt the psyche of humanity till today. The nuclear race unleashed after this event has been unprecedented in its own. The question of stockpiles and dangers of annihilation of mankind are well-known horrors of nuclear weapons.

Today hot debates flow on the nuclear deal between India and United States. Have we ever thought as to what benefit will this deal give us? The amount of capital investment needed for building up the nuclear plants would be colossal whereas in rural areas, the farmers continue to take their own lives.

We talk about double-digit growth rate, but its foundations are shaky as we continue to neglect the need for agricultural development and land reforms. We rake the debates on ‘Gandhigiri as the philosophy of our times’, yet the youth have become ruthlessly callous as we have seen in the road-rages, hit and run cases, risng cases of violence on women in society. We harp on socialism in the Preamble of our Constitution but all multinational corporations have swayed the market whereas we are trapped as they hunt for their profit. Our Preamble begins with a ringing declaration of ‘We, the people of India’, yet I beg to ask, who are these ‘people’ included in India? The gains of growth continue to bypass the rural areas. The villages continue to be what Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar held, ‘den of ignorance, sink of localism’. Does the parameter of Indian nation stretch up to the elites and the middle class only? We ascribe high values to doctors, engineers, management, but look down upon social sciences as ‘non-lucrative, mundane, arcane, and archaic’. We ignore the need to understand the nuances of social enquiry in its multifarious forms vis-à-vis economics, sociology, philosophy, politics, literature etc. Perhaps, this explains the sheer lack of empathy present today.

Every year the tenant at 7, Race Course Road makes enormous promises and claims about the benevolent role of the mighty Indian state. Unfortunately it falls short of containing the rising Naxal violence, the social fabric is rent asunder as the North-Eastern areas and Kashmir remain in perpetual turnmoil, corruption and maladministration continue to plague our ethos.

We have developed two judicial systems—one for the rich and other for the poor. The latter continue to bear the brunt of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’; the Jessica Lal murder case saw the civil society asserting its autonomy to seek justice, but wasn’t the event a short-lived ‘urban phenome-non’?

Our ancient scriptures and mythology talk about reverence to women, yet the Women’s Reservation Bill, which came up for discussion in 1996, has not seen the light of the day.

Although the public school education and higher education are getting better with time yet these cater to people from the higher sections of society.
Terrorism and narcotics go on amplifying their phantasmal web with new tactics while the government persists in adhering to the old methods of retaliation, which breed further violence, complete sidelining of the insistence on use of ‘moral force’ to change the heart of the evil-doer.

The Gandhian talisman of our policies benefiting the ‘last man’, remain merely on paper.

Our India is far away from Tagore’s vision of the nation, ‘where the mind is without fear and the head is held high’. There is no scientific temper and rationality that Pandit Nehru dreamt of. Democracy extends beyond political frontiers, it is a social process. Caste based aggression as displayed in Yavatmal, Nagpur, Jhajjar make a mockery of the co-existence in us.

Where are we heading towards? Will we balkanise? Did we have a glorious non-violent freedom struggle for this nation, when the chasms continue to haunt us? How long can we continue to turn a blind eye to our problems?

Let us be optimistic. Our freedom is hard-earned. Let us care for it. “Chak-de! India.” Let’s gear up again to participate in building a nation on fraternity, equity, integrity, so that we all can once again can proudly asset ‘Mera Bharat Mahan!’ It’s only our actions that can make a difference as good things in life come in small packages.

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