A collective dream, and responsibility

Mon, Aug 19, 2019

As we enter the 74th year of the republic, there is much to suggest that democracy has expanded in India, and also deepened, but some terrible contradictions remain.
What makes a nation great? What makes a nation stand out? Is it the size of its territory or the numerical strength of its army? Is it the economic wealth or is it the level of prosperity enjoyed by the people residing there? India faces several such questions in the path leading towards destiny.
The discontents in India are many. Corruption, price-rise and livelihood questions for the marginalised sections, communalism and terrorism, and high doses of agitation politics relying only on symbolism, cannot but be key questions. Indeed, the contradictions that hold us back are many. But among the most noteworthy of these is the contempt and disregard in which our society holds women and young girls as a group, although routinely much lip service is paid to them in public.
India has persevered because somehow it has succeeded in establishing the democratic ideal far and wide in the territories under its control. Subscribing to the principle of  universal adult suffrage, providing for 33% reservation for women in parliament and accommodating divergent political viewpoints through ingenuous constitutional arrangements, it has managed to safeguard its territories.
The recent political and legislative action of bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir and making it comply with legal norms on the same footing as rest of the nation is problematic in view of the chequered past of the northern region and shows an unusual haste on the part of the government. The means adopted to nullify Article 370 have also been questioned in media. Secessionist movements in Punjab, Assam and Mizoram have almost been neutralised. However, to ensure better governance and survival of federal polity, the central and state governments need to take more proactive measures to build upon public confidence in institutions of democracy.
It calls for efficient administration and timely delivery of citizen-centric services. These could be as basic as timely disbursal of scholarship amount or old age pension at local level. Panchayati Raj institutions at the ground level are struggling to remain relevant. This would certainly require plugging of gaps in the decentralised governance model.
One of the stated mission objective of UN Secretary General is to put ‘every child in school’ despite the challenges. This mission is premised  on the understanding that ‘as people learn to read, count and reason critically, their prospects for health and ‘prosperity expand exponentially.’ The daunting task for India remains to arrest the dropout rate and ensuring greater attendance of girl students in schools and colleges. Technical and professional education too needs a leg-up. There is paucity of quality research in the field of social sciences though pure sciences get handsome governmental support. According to Ernst and Young, by 2030 in India, the demand for quality higher education is only going to increase.
The deep gender bias in our social and political system suffices to collectively incriminate us and indict our governments — at the Centre and in the states. There is some chance that the question can be addressed, and gender audits ensured across the board, if political stability remains enduring.
Like sustainable development, economic progress of a nation ought to be juxtaposed with the development of human aspirations for truth and goodness. What is obtained then may possibly be true and long-standing humane growth embellished with economic and material progress. The soul of India is her faith and spirit, which clearly courses through the body of her citizens. However, it is often dormant and veiled by layers of skepticism and cynicism, which are acquired habits. As laid out in article 51A (j) of our constitution, can we ‘strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement’? Can we dedicate ourselves to the cause of true Nation Building at all levels? Then, we would indeed have a resurgent India anchored simultaneously in the modern and ancient, poise and prosperity, development and true liberation.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi