On the 15th of August,2022, India will celebrate her 75th birthday, the diamond jubilee of her independence, a great achievement for the nation. As the largest democracy of the world approaches her diamond jubilee celebration, the people of Maa Bharati have been preparing for a grand welcome for the return of the day. It is not unusual for a nation to celebrate her important day or independence day with pomp and show. However, this time, it is a little different. With the Tiranga at every house and building, the earth looks filled with colours (Saffron, white and green) from the sky. Pinning of the flag on the harghartiranga.com website, putting up a selfie with the Tiranga and tagging on the digital tiranga have been rolled out by the Ministry of Culture. All have added to the merriment of the festive grandeur.
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Undoubtedly, India has come a long way with all her struggles and challenges. It is mind-boggling to think that a country that was left with merely a 16 percent literacy rate and rampant poverty, could survive the test of time and eventually prove its mettle as a democracy. In fact, when Sukumar Sen, the first Chief Election Commissioner of India conducted the first general election in 1951-52, many were sceptical whether this ‘ gamble with democracy’ would succeed or not. After 75 years, it can be said that it has not only succeeded but also has stood tall on the edifice of her strong foundation laid down by its forefathers.
The founding fathers of Indian democracy had a herculean task of unifying the princely states. Even after independence, India was not complete. The Britishers left a truncated territory of India. It is unbelievable that at the time of independence, there were around 585 princely states, which had to be unified with the Indian state. Unifying forcefully is one thing, however, assimilating in the mainstream is another. With force only, one cannot expect loyalty. However, the forefathers of Indian democracy ensured that the people of the princely states do not feel discriminated and get equal rights.
It must be said that a nation survives or prospers because of the prevalence of justice. The sense of justice prevailing in the state binds her people with love and affection. A history student would be apt to understand the factors leading to the decay of a nation. In history, many kingdoms have lost their glory because of the king becoming a despot carrying out unjust expeditions.
Since the very beginning, the forefathers of Indian democracy have laid down the foundations of a just and welfare state. In fact, the preamble of the Indian constitution states that it is a solemn resolve to secure to all its citizens “Justice, social, economic and political.” It is this very foundation that has enabled the edifice of Indian democracy to stand strong.
Except for a few aberrations like the Emergency of 1975, India has retained her democratic structure unlike many of her neighbours like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. These countries have time and again witnessed the rule of military dictatorships. However, India had shown her resilience and unwavering commitment to democracy. A strong foundation is a reason for such a robust democracy. The founding fathers had taken care of the fact that institutional autonomy had to be strengthened in order to keep the democracy intact.
In fact, when Nehru became the Congress President for the third time in 1937, he wrote an article criticising himself in the Modern Review– a Calcutta-based monthly journal under the pseudonym Chanakya. The main motive of the article was to check himself from becoming authoritarian and at the same time make people aware of the aftermath of the rise of a Ceaserian despot. Had they wanted they could have manipulated the 84 percent illiterate people of a young independent India, in whose eyes the freedom fighters were no less than heroes. Many people idolised freedom fighters and leaders like Nehru, Gandhi, Patel, Rajagopalachari and others.
Although many of them are criticised these days for various reasons, their selfless contributions cannot be jettisoned altogether. Believe it or not, the sole contribution of these great leaders and statesmen is that they have handed down to posterity a promising democracy with her foundations laid down on the welfare and prosperity of her people. The colour of this democracy has to be beset with the values of liberty, equality and fraternity- a system where everybody has equal rights irrespective of caste, creed, colour and sex; everybody enjoys the equal right of liberty to do whatever one wants without infringing upon the liberty of others. This very sense of justice and fraternity will bind the country together.
In the 75th year of independence, the only thing the people of the nation should remember is that independence has not come so easy. It is not something that should be taken for granted. It took a whole lot of struggle to achieve independence and it will sustain only when we value it. If people become indifferent to what they have achieved, then it is bound to fall apart. This celebration of Azadi ki Amrit Mahotsav is rather an occasion for embracing those values that keep the democracy vibrant. It is a reminder for all of us to express gratitude to our forefathers. It is an occasion for making a resolution for all of us to contribute our bits to make this vibrant democracy going.
By, Mokhjumi Ahmed