Azadi: India’s 70th Independence Day
“That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.”
– Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (Tryst with Destiny)
India has had an eventful journey towards its path to sovereignty- from the days of being a resourceful colony for British imperialists to being a (or trying to be a) sovereign secular socialist (really?) democratic republic, India has faced its own set of challenges that are integral to the land and Indian people. Our country had been successful in securing freedom for the land from the British Raj, however, we are still to see the dawn of a paradigm where we can render our nation, along with its people, independent.
In the discourse of this eventful journey, few would debate the view that Mahatma Gandhi, through his avant-garde philosophy of Swaraj, had been the biggest ideologue of a new India, that, he envisioned, would have to be steered on the principles of Satyagraha- a non-violent mass movement to achieve self-governance.
Gandhi idealized a future state where there would be no capitalism, no communism, no religious violence, no corruption, and freethought, in a nation that lived in a rural patchwork. Gandhi’s vision of Swaraj encompassed the idea of self-rule over the governments, and over one’s mind and passions. The said self-rule of Swaraj was to be fulfilled if only the masses engaged themselves into self-actualization. Gandhi believed in a utopian future for India; but unfortunately, India has been burdened by its socioeconomic woes to such an extent that awakening of mass consciousness has to this day, been a distant dream.
India ranks 4th in terms of the size of its economy, which marginally surpasses the economy of UK (and this fun-fact is often a chest-thumping tool for the masses). However, in terms of per capita income, India lags behind miserably with a rank of 158 out of 230. These statistics are ample to point towards the class disparity that lies within India’s socio-economic fabric.
The division on the basis of caste, creed, religion, and class has further lessened the chances of a mass-scale self-actualization, which would form the basis of self-rule.
The aspirations of the working class, as well as the privileged class, draw their frameworks from the same set of limited resources that the nation has to offer, and this initiates an undercurrent of a class war in which, the working class is striving to emerge as winners.
Thus, India is standing at a point in its independent history, where the working class is gaining ground day by day as the nation enters its 71st year of independence. The world has by now, realized the potential of doing business with a huge population of poor and lower middle-class citizens, who have been deprived of the standard facilities their global counterparts have been availing for a long time. The aspirations of the Indian working class, who form a sizeable group; often bigger than the entire population of several countries put together, have ensured them services and products that match their affordability. Nowadays, most of the Indians have easy access to a wide range of products and services like the internet, public and private transit means, cell phones and television sets. It is a common sight to spot middle-class Indians in flight journeys, something that was a rarity back in the day.
With great facilities, come great responsibilities:
With each day passing, the working class has been availing the modern perks of a comfortable lifestyle. However, Gandhi’s dream of self-rule or Swaraj is yet to be realized. The modernization is happening at a rapid pace, but the minds of the commoners are yet to be set free. The increasing incidents of internet harassment, moral policing, road rage, communal disharmony, lack of sanitation, and inappropriate civility in public realms bear open testimony to the caged mindset the Indians have to showcase.
Although the country we live in today, is free from foreign dominion; we still have our population trapped in its melancholy state of mind. We, on our course to a better future, have not been able to set ourselves free from the chains of our regressive ethos. The easy access to products and services provided to us has to be complemented with a mass-scale self-realization, in order to achieve ourselves as a population that is liberated enough to work towards a shared idea of Swaraj.