Friday, August 17, 2007

Independent India - Three Score Years

The pics taken within a span of a few minutes on the morning of August 15th.

August 15th marked the 60th year of India's Independence. The print and visual media, beginning with Time (which featured India on its cover page) considered this of monumental importance to be celebrated unlike an annual birthday. Completing 60 years in an individual's life has religious significance among Hindus. In Kerala, it is called 'shashtibdapoorthi'. When one reaches 60, the major portion of one's years on earth have passed and it is time to look back.
In a nation-state's life, 60 years is not a significant passage of time. For India, one of the world's two longest surviving civilisations with recorded history going back to 5000 years, it is only a miniscule amount of time for major transformations to appear. The Hindus are a civilisation with yugas and kalpas referring to millions of years around which human and divine destiny unfurls.
The articles, endless tele- discussions, speeches, all seen in plenty this season played on the same set of tunes which one has oft heard. India was portrayed as an emerging power, charting out its righful place on the world stage. Few mentioned that the secret of India's strength and resilence, which enabled it to survive for 5000 years when other civlisations which began along with it or after it were reduced to dust, lay in its diversity. In no other land can you find such magnificent diversity exisiting with so much harmony and with little of civilisational angst. A diversity which ranges from clothes to food to languages to rituals....the list is endless. Globalisation and Capitalism endanger our diversity and replaces it with homogenity, even when they claim to defend democracy and freedom of choice.
The civilisational crisis facing India is the destruction of its diversity. The forces unleashed by capitalism and globalisation can never co-exist with diversity and need homogenity and uniformity for their growth. In various ways, Indian's have begun to respond to this crisis. How we resolve it will be interesting.
To conclude in a personal note, on August 15th, I hoisted the national flag (see pic) in the gardens of the historic Saraswati Vilas Palace in Trivandrum where a play school, kindergarten and primary school function. The little children sang patriotic songs and we distributed sweets to mark the gaiety of the ocassion. Speeches were dispensed with.
But when I emerged out of the Palace on to the road, this sight of an haggard old man fast asleep on the pavement, all his wordly belongings filled in two sacks, touched me. What does 60 years of Independence and India's emergence as a global power mean for him? Dear reader, can you tell me, please!


Anrosh said...

Thank You shaji. K for bringing reality. I don't know what emerging power is and if it is sustainable?
The so called industries set up in India are backoffices. When is India going to take care of its front yard and its roof. Don't we all know that liberalisation did not come in the wake of a reformisitic policy of socialistic theories of which even the then finance minister Manmohan singh is an ardent believer, but of the sheer pressure of world bank and IMF when India signed GATT.

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

That first image is just incredible. Nice photography!

I love the thought of the children singing patriotic songs and the passing of sweets. I wish I could have seen them with my own two eyes.

PS Thank you for all your support on my blog. You are a very kind and generous soul.

Lubna said...

Hi Shaji,

You and I have become cynical. Did you see the joy on the faces of children who sang those patriotic songs - maybe we need to be like them - to believe in the future.

Things have changed, true there is poverty, homelessness, racial conflicts and strife. But I now like to think there is also hope.

After all, what independence gave to us is the independence to air our thoughts and the freedom to change our country for the better in our own small ways - be it helping at the local NGO or otherwise.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and have a nice Sunday.


Maddie said...

It might start with the beautiful singing
children - to help them develop ideas to
include everyone when it comes to
basic needs - food - shelter -
so we all have something to sing about -
and Lubna said it so well - independence is
the first step - to the next and the next -
all journey's begin with a single step -
and independence was more like a leap:)

Smiling Dolphin said...

At one level, the old man is actually freer than you or I, the so-called privileged ones who live in gilded cages. Since I work a lot with animals, particularly homeless ones, I am fortunate to witness a deeper meaning to the word freedom. The sky is a roof too.

sanjukta said...

Honestly it means nothing... this whole independence drama... but then there are many world within one world.. for people of one world the issues of the other world don't mean anything...and the cross over would never happen.

On a positive note (though optimism aint my cup of tea) there was this article by Prasoon Joshi on HT.. will try to send u the link..

There he says Globalisation won't be able to outshine India's diversity...we shall survive... A good read but how true.. not sure.

xanjukta said...

i saw the cochin harbor.. actually went on a tour of the naval dock and base and other things there.. it's beautiful there...
what you say about the country is hard hitting!