Is India finally on the cusp of ringing in the new Republic with a brand-new compact between the Union and its constituent States?
For an overwhelming majority of us, the path that freedom illumined for us all on 15 August 1947, has transformed each one of us into eternal journeymen. Forever walking the high road to human freedoms, all the while watching over our shoulder for the dangers that lurk in the night.
We have run like a hare at times and trundled along like a tortoise at others. But through it all, the idea of Us as One Nation has endured, with each new dawn. For all the million mutinieswithin India, that Great Indian Family to which I belong, albeit with gripes too many to list, has survived. My Kashmiriyat and your Punjabiyat have never been more in sync with our collective sense oflndian-ness or Bhartiyata.
Whatever the naysayers might say, a huge majority of the inhabitants of this landmass feel pride for being part of the greatest experiment on Earth in finding unity in a dizzying diversity. One cannot think of another experiment at this scale that yielded unity in the same way that the project of reorganization of over 500 princely states as parts of a unified whole.
Seventy-five years after the Mahatma strung us all like beads of a necklacefor the solemn goal of freedom from the imperial yoke. It is satisfying that we did not fail the Father of the Nation. We are conjoined at the hip with this land like we have never been before.
Have we wobbled in this journey too? For decades on end, the state seemed to have, at best, treacherously overlooked its role and got it completely wrong as a guarantor of basic services for all, and at worst, actively colluded in keeping vast sections of the society on the margins. Successive governments failed on ensuring our wellbeing and basic income ..
On these essential markers of freedoms which are the building blocks of human development, we need to strap our seatbelts and move in top gear. We are far from where we want to be. Every decade throws up its buzzword. In the do-good industry, ‘sustainability’ is what this decade is all about. As if on cue, India has seized the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the most ambitious global compact yet, leaving no one behind. The SDGs are the codified enunciation of Agenda 2030, the blueprint for achieving minimally optimal human potential.
In the do-good industry, ‘sustainability’ is what this decade is all about. As if on cue, India has seized the Sustainable Development (SDGsJ), Goals the most ambitious global compact yet.
After decades of sleeping on the wheel, a frontal assault on human development seems a distinct plausibility. Indian business leaders are busy playing the global markets and taking over prime businesses in Europe and the Middle East. The recent acquisition of Air India by the Tata group capped its earlier headline-making purchase of Jaguar, Land Rover and Corus Group, the giant London-headquartered steelmaker. These acquisitions, more than others that Indian CEOs have snagged in these years, were particularly seeped in symbolism, heralding as it were an altogether new chapter in the Indian growth story. Indian software giants like TCS, Wipro and Infosys have emerged as global tech giants thanks to the skills of thousands of world-class engineers who graduate from its marquee schools.
Growth, globalization and the spread of technology are bringing India together and setting the pace for a bold new future, in which it has become possible to imagine India, yet again, at the centre of global conversation. The success oflndian fintech, edutech and other tech unicorns has further unleashed India’s entrepreneurial spirit and fuelled a million new ambitions for progress and prosperity.
The strides made by the country in mobile telephony and broadband have helped close the gaps between rich and the income-poor. A cataclysmic diffusion of digital and biometric technologies is helping low-income Indians gain access to government services and benefits to which they are entitled. Early Education is a critical area of our human development challenge where technology has vast potential to reduce inequality. The vice-like grip on education of the country’s caste and income elites is well on the way to be challenged as edutech is making available to millions of aspiring learners online knowledge and ideas once restricted to the portals of the big-league academia. Similar initiatives are helping unlock the possibility of universal basic healthcare.