Every independence day is special. It's a reminder for both Pakistan and India that entire generations were swallowed by the monster called colonialism, and a hard-earned freedom was achieved after grit and determination paid off in 1947.
Unfortunately, the subcontinent's history took rather unsavoury turns after that, and demons of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and under-development still roam free. Our people who deserve the best, make do with poor per capita incomes in challenging circumstances.
What a united approach to development could have achieved for everyone in south Asia, is marred by acrimony and discord. In light of this historical reality, and the present day troubles at the border, the speech of PM Narendra Modi from Red Fort on 15-August 2016 was an important one. Modi is trying to make governance more responsive and quick, against all prevailing odds. In a boisterous democracy with a free press and a multitude of opinions that disagree with anything a PM (any PM) may try to do, the task of leading India is not easy!
I know that India is facing many problems that affect citizens' quality of life. We have to find solutions together.
In addition to tens of regularly important points made by the prime minister in an energetic Independence Day speech 2016, the following three struck me hard -
- Reminding Indians of something called “Work Culture” - We Indians are proud of our ancient culture and legacy. PM Modi made it a point to repeatedly mention “work culture” to remind us that unless we work to improve our present through productivity and decisiveness, we won’t have a justified claim on a glorious future. His references to the countless (and some already successful) new schemes and initiatives was interlaced with the work culture dna. In my study of the past 25 years, he is the first PM to speak thus. Indira Gandhi - the iron lady - had used it earlier through a famous slogan “Baatein kum, kaam zyada” meaning talk less, do more. But that had fizzled out. Modi must have learnt his lessons, and his trying to ensure that IT can be used to ensure transparency in delivery.
- Touching all sensitive issues and offering solutions - The PM touched almost every sensitive issue the nation faces today, and he offered a quick insight into solving them. From atrocities on Dalits to Naxalite violence, from real estate frauds to need for genuine women empowerment, from food prices to OROP, he tried to offer an insight into what his government thinks about them. Each of these issues has the potential to force a turn in national discourse. He has tried to tackle them head on. It won’t be easy, though. The machinery is huge, and making it work in tandem has not been easy for any PM ever.
- Calling Pakistan’s bluff - For months, the government kept extending a visible or invisible olive branch to the Pak establishment (read Military) for a peaceful resumption of talks, or to find some solution to the Kashmir issue. Everything failed, and Pakistan wrongly made some moves on the international stage in a preposterous attempt to globalise the Kashmir issue in the name of “atrocities” by Indian state there. Ha ha - they conveniently forget the genocide carried out by Tikka Khan in East Pakistan in 1970–71 and the near genocidal conditions in Baochistan today. IMO, out of sheer compulsion, PM Modi made the Baloch, PoK and Gilgit issues mainstream. This is a major development, and a first in 70 years of Indian independence celebrations. Expect global outreach. This will hurt China too as its CPEC corridor passes through Gilgit-Baltistan and reports indicate large-scale land acquisitions (typical Chinese style) from locals without permission.
There is little doubt that the coming months and years will be eventful. One hopes that peace and sanity ultimately prevails, and dialogue or discussion helps bring calm. The passion seen on 15th August and 26th January should persist always, as we move ahead with a spirit of togetherness and mutual propserity.
Such celebrations are an appropriate time to recall the sacrifices made by our martyrs, immortalised in many literary creations, such as this gem by poet Shri Makhanlal Chaturvedi
चाह नहीं मैं सुरबाला के, गहनों में गूँथा जाऊँ,
चाह नहीं प्रेमी-माला में, बिंध प्यारी को ललचाऊँ,
चाह नहीं, सम्राटों के शव, पर, हे हरि, डाला जाऊँ
चाह नहीं, देवों के शिर पर, चढ़ूँ भाग्य पर इठलाऊँ!
मुझे तोड़ लेना वनमाली! उस पथ पर देना तुम फेंक,
मातृभूमि पर शीश चढ़ाने, जिस पथ जाएँ वीर अनेक।
Here's wishing all Indians a great fture ahead! Jai Hind