Monday, August 15, 2005

Independence day - Time for reflection

Today marks the 58th Independence day for India ... ya its also a holiday in India (long weekend). But its also time for leaders, citizens to look back and contemplate for some time on the nation's achivements, its problems. Reflect on what our national leaders who got us independence wanted the nation to be and what we are today. As a nation we have achieved a lot .... (you can get a list from any ruling party political leader's speech). But did we want to be this way ....

India as a nation is a nuclear power (still >50% of urban population lives in slums in major cities). We are among the fastest growing economic power in the world ( still 50% of our children suffer from mal-nutritution). We are the biggest democracy in the world (still in a single day thousands of families are forcefully evicted out of theie houses -- slums -- by the government). Our GDP is growing at rate of 5-7% for last decade ( still amount our govt spends on social sector - health & education - is dismal as compared to any country in the world 3% & 4%). The software sector is creating millionaries in our country (still around 70% of popuation lives in single room houses). The list goes on .....

So whose responsible?. No I dont think its only the government (an easy escape goat). A nation's success shouldnt be counted just by these economic numbers or state of 2-3% of the population. The real picture emerges when you look at the 90% of the population and in what condition they are. We as a nation should think what we want and set our priorities. I think personally we need public movements on a far larger scale than we have today. This needs public organization and will take time but this is the only right way.


At 9:52 PM, Blogger Raghav said...

We must also add the positive points. Among all countries that emerged from WOrld War 2, India is one of the few democracies. India has always been more independent on the international scene (for example, starting the NAM movement back in the Cold war days).

Of course, Indian democracy has taken severe dents, including the emergency and the early 2000s when the BJP was in power.

The plight of the Indian population, as you've rightly said, leaves a lot to be done. Who's to blame? The government? Only partially. Whatever you say, India is a democracy. In other words, if Indian citizens so choose, they can well force the government to do what it should be doing. Yet they mostly chose not to. Tells us a lot about the moral fibre of the Indian elite.

As for us, we should recall simple moral truisms such as recognizing the injustice and renew our commitment to address it.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Sunil said...

Raghav.....there are many positives, but NAM isn't something that I will count towards that. NAM was a farce, utter and complete.

Democracy (with all it's flaws in its Indian avatar) is a huge plus, and something we should continue to cherish, nurture and strengthen. We should indeed renew our commitment to ensure the rights of all of India's citizens.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Rahul said...

Raghav, Sunil,
Agreed democracy is a great plus and I wont consider comprismising on that for any other thing. But I believe that we havent being fully able to exploit democracy's benefits. Democracy is for the masses and it has many a time stopped more bad to happen (BJP getting routed out or several other things from happening where people were organized), but people organization has been low and hence elite has taken advantage at many places. The rural employment scheme is a very good step in the right direction (partially as a result of last elections), just depends on its implementation. There have been several schemes before but this is a law and hece binding on the govt. If people are organized you can sue governemnt in court of law for not providing the benefits. Lets see it final structure.

People's organization (leverging democracy) is the only solution is see for masses to benefit.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Raghav said...

Sunil, whatever you say about NAM's effectiveness, it does symbolize India's independence at the international level. Our refusal to sign NPT is another. It continued right through till the 90s.

At 11:46 PM, Blogger Sunil said...

Raghav...i will continue to disagree. If you read about the NAM, you will realize what a sham it was.....

I cannot call it Indian independence or neutrality of any sort. India (even while "leading" the NAM, which consisted of small, non-entity countries like Egypt and Yugoslavia) was never be neutral like the Swiss were, but in their foreign policy constantly took sides (and in this case overtly backed a loser...the Soviet Union).

As far as the NPT goes.....India had no reason to sign it. The NPT is an extremely unbalanced document, and only emphasizes that the existing "recognized" powers retain or develop nuclear weapons. It does NOT call for any way or definite path for them to reduce their weapons. All it does is impose rules on countries signing it to prevent their own nuclear development. Unless and until the nuclear powers start cutting down their weapons (the US for example still has over 10000 warheads, enough to destroy the entire world 100 times over), and is not reducing it. Given this situation, them asking other countries to sign a non-proliferation treaty is a farce.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Raghav said...

Depends on what standard you're using for independence.

I'm comparing against other third world countries, especially in the "dominion" of the US or USSR. The level of independence India had was higher than, say, a Latin American country.

As for the NPT, India exposed the hypocrisy (like you've pointed out) for what it was. I don't think we're disagreeing here. - But, no matter how obvious the hypocrisy is, it requires a strain of independence to expose it. Contrast, for example, British (government) attitudes on this front.

Regarding NAM, you're right about its being a farce - I never said anything about its effectiveness. Regarding what it symbolizes, we disagree.


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