We kept our nation sovereign and free, and borders safe, for three-quarters of a century, despite unprovoked hostility in the neighbourhood
We are 75. A proud independent nation, we are youthful, hopeful, brimming with confidence and looking ahead with high aspirations. We are today a successful democracy, a robust economy, a plural harmonious society and a reason for hope for the entire world.
The saga of Indian Independence has survived against odds and wishes of naysayers, defying predictions of an early doomsday, and thrived. We, as India, are successful as a nation, because of the contributions and efforts of every single leader, visionary, institution, organisation, community, region and every single citizen of the past and present.
We kept our nation sovereign and free, and our borders safe, for three-quarters of a century, despite unprovoked hostility in the neighbourhood, at a huge cost thanks to our brave jawan, our peerless armed forces who won wars when pushed into them, even while happy to live in peace and mindful of the larger goal of a peaceful world.
We fought and won the war against hunger, unleashing a green revolution and a white one, a contribution of our kisan, and from being a country which faced risks of famines and starvation, we became a nation which exports food, safe and secure in our ability to meet our own collective nutritional needs.
If we spent the first four decades with a socialist zeal, we used it to build foundations — of education, science and research, technology, infrastructure and heavy industries. When we undertook reforms, we unleashed a new energy of a new India. From being a country with a few weeks’ worth of foreign exchange to becoming one of the biggest economies in the world, and yet continuing to grow, we are knocking at the door of premiership in the First World.
Harnessing our people, we built global corporations and provided solutions to the world, and helped the best of nations and institutions face challenges successfully, courtesy of our people power, their brains and hard work, and their entrepreneurship and work skills. We make rockets and satellites, software and vaccines, designs for airplanes and ships, and our people lead global corporations and initiatives, directly impacting the planet.
In sport, our athletes and sportspersons have conquered new heights, even as our artistes continue to win hearts. Indian food, Indian movies, Indian sports and Indian artisans win laurels in every corner of the earth.
For many, we may be a struggling democracy or an oppressive society, but even so we are an example of what is possible.
Yet, we are neither perfect, nor complete. No nation or society is. We are a work in progress, with several challenges and concerns. We have a huge demographic dividend that is crying for opportunities matching aspirations. We have deep recoveries to make in our economy. Neither in law nor in society are we all equal, and yawning inequalities have a way of breaking our oneness.
Communal peace, secularism, harmony, a vibrant sense of freedom of expression, fearless people, easy dissent, removal of violence in every slice of life, reducing income inequality, enlarging liberties available to everyone and creating an open society are still within our grasp. But it is not inevitable or guaranteed. There is a risk of these slipping away as possibilities; worse, they might even no longer be considered worthy values to strive for.
Let us celebrate the 75th with a great sense of joy in every heart. Let us seek to make the 100th, when it comes, an even more joyous occasion for all Indians.