I have so much on my mind on the occasion of this Independence day. In many ways, it’s truly impressive how far we’ve come in the 70 years since our freedom fighters from across the country overthrew our colonial overlords, who, despite their contribution to the foundation of our infrastructure, still left us poorer and in many ways worse off than they found us. Given our rise since 1947, whether it’s our economic growth or our progress across many domains, there’s a lot to be proud of even if there’s a lot more that’s far from rosy and indicates that the work is far from done.
One of those far from rosy things is the present scenario, and no matter how optimistic (or patriotic) I want to be about it, it repeatedly showcases how fragile the freedom we've attained can be, how much responsibility we have to (and are currently somewhat failing to) exercise to ensure we follow the right path and how far we still have to go to be truly free. This isn't limited to us though, as much of the developed world stands on a similar (if not worse) precipice, and there's a huge opportunity for a new entrant to emerge and be a shining beacon of pluralistic secular democracy for the rest of the world.
And therein lies my hope for India (and hopefully the world) for the next 70 years - let's hope it is marked by the destruction and reversal of the current regressive trend of majoritarianism, ochlocracy, idiocracy and bigotry. Let's hope it includes the collapse of crony capitalism and the end of corruption of all forms, especially that which exists within each of us and is the root cause of corruption at every level. Let's hope that it is marked, first by the acknowledgement of the existence of oppression of minorities (some of them over centuries), and then by the upliftment of these minorities to a point where they have genuinely equal standing with the rest. Let's also hope for the demise of our society's inherent discrimination of race, religion, caste, gender, sexuality etc and the disappearance of our hangover of colonialism where Victorian prudishness became conflated with the idea of "sanskaari" values rather than our far more progressive historical stance in this regard.
Here's to an India where equality and equity both thrive and the biases and prejudices of today are mere footnotes of darker times. Here's to an India with a reformed education system where people consider the morals and ethics at the level of being a part humanity rather than just at those of their communities that are divided by religion, region, language or anything else. Here's to an India that values creativity, hard work and quality and frowns upon cutting costs, corners and 'jugaad'. Here's to an India that's environmentally conscious and takes the lead on the path to securing of our planet's future.
Here’s to having an India of better leaders & democratic representatives (both in power and in opposition) emerging from among us who value the fundamental tenets of liberal democracy espoused by our founding fathers and are inclined to uphold our unity in incredible diversity. Let’s hope for leaders who, in the face of mistakes or triumphs, aren’t PR obsessed, don’t resort to whataboutery or propaganda (or troll armies) and take responsibility for their actions. Leaders who don’t just repeat "women should be empowered" in interviews and actually work towards that. Leaders who despise the idea of being in a post truth, anti intellectual world and don’t unilaterally come up with Tughlaq-esque schemes or dismiss global warming (and claim it’s actually colder because older people feel that way).
Here's to an India where the evils the plague us today are resigned to the history books to only serve as a reminder for the generations to come of how we started to stray down a dangerous path but managed to avert our ruin. Where the good of the past 70 years proves to be the foundation of a greater tomorrow where we don't need laws to force our national pride because we have so much to be truly proud of.
Here’s to the India of my dreams, a land where people have both realized that they want all these things and also that, by the wonderful virtue of being a free country, the massive responsibility is in their hands to ensure this happens. Happy Independence Day!