The average lifespan in India has shot up from 32 years to 70 years since independence. Encouragingly, India’s per capita income has also increased from Rs 2248.26 to Rs 4,85,624.70. The country is currently placed as the world’s sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP measures and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It means India’s GDP in the first quarter of 2018 was 34768.27 INR billion, ranking third after China and the US. In 1947 around 1,500 villages were electrified, and now about 97% of the villages have electricity. After 190 years of British rule, the privilege of seeing a classroom and be educated was only 12% as against 74% who are literate today with almost 100% literacy achieved by the State of Kerala. It is important to remember, and a case in point is where every major decision regarding the change of government since 1947 has been through the power of ballot boxes and not through any armed forces involvement. Interestingly countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and even France with so much military power and strategic alliances could not succeed in achieving the way India did it.
It’s now been 72 years of Independence. As the country commemorated its independence day, honouring thousands of stalwarts and freedom fighters who laid down lives for the vision of Independent India, we need to look back at those years of freedon, and undoubtedly we have a great deal to celebrate. We are finally set free from the clutches of the British empire. But one thing that always sticks up our minds and reminds us very frequently is – poverty, casteism, corruption, unemployment, illiteracy, and now lynching? We still have much more to do, have many challenges to address, and even a great many obstacles to bring down. Being a free nation, we forget that each victory came with wounds. We forget why we have the scars. We need to set ourselves free from the grips of caste and religious biases in which we often indulge. With that newness of rebirth comes the temptation to compare everything and everyone with where we are now.
I remember my maternal grandfather who fought for the freedom of the country. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of one and all. His village had no electricity, water was scarce, and a train, which passed by the nearby village once a day, was the only connection to the rest of the world. Calling British imperialist rule a form of slavery, my late grandfather Dukkipati Nageswara Rao involved himself in the Indian Freedom Movement to end British rule of India. He was a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence.
He met Mahatma Gandhi along with many others in Gudivada during the Independence movement. He belonged to the freedom fighters that walked the Gandhian path and contributed a great deal in terms of his time, resources, and vision to make the freedom struggle a mass movement in the country. He was barely twenty when he heeded Gandhi’s call for non-cooperation against the British and took it to the villages.
Midway through my work, I realised I had just enough food in my pantry, my rent was paid, and my car hadn’t died on me yet. Seventy-two years after we have gained independence and the years passed by and we haven’t been able to send all our children to school. Knowing what is “real” on the internet is becoming increasingly more difficult. Poor student-teacher ratio, crumbling infrastructure, corrupt officials, caste differentiation, you may have to grease the palms in many a case, even in schools to get a child admitted we need to pay a certain amount of money to these various levels, lack of proper toilets and sanitation, are the primary reasons that have kept the students from enrolling. Others like socio-economic factors such as abject poverty, access, child labour, child marriage, untouchables, and people from various social classes like scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes who are not given the rights due to which they are often ill-treated, abused and manhandled. The rate of crime has also increased in the cities. Women, sadly women irrespective of age, face eve-teasing, molestation, and sexual harassment.
In most cases, the perpetrators are acquaintances, auto and cab drivers, bus operators, and servants. Most of these cases are often not reported because of the social stigma. It’s saddening to see that women are ill-treated, abused and are left to live in crumbling and dilapidated old-age homes.
Coming to the country’s economy, it is worth mentioning that various sectors are showing a downfall. The IT sector is experiencing a slowdown, and there’s a subsequent fall in job creation, adding to the misery. The solution to widespread unemployment lies in identifying and bridging the broader skills gap, offering better labour policies, training and creating more opportunities on information technology, trade and commerce, taxation, regulation, education, and fiscal and monetary policy. Skills gap often refers to the massive pool of untapped talent which usually has severe consequences like economic underperformance, social unrest, fear, anguish and despair. To make the situation worse, a strong religious polarisation is currently underway in India.
Lynching and mob violence has started getting undue attention and response during recent times. Names such as Junaid, Mohammad Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Ayub Pandit are some of the unfortunate reminders of the mad, frantic, and frenzy mood of fear and communal violence gripping India. There are tough questions to be answered about prejudice, resentment, tolerance and identity. We are, therefore, turning into a breeding ground for anger, frustration and resentment.
In this digital age, with damaging content only a swipe away, how can parents protect their children from being swept up in a tangled web of pornography, violence, cyberbullying, and online harassment? While these apps can be entirely innocent, they also contain explicit content— content that would upset any parent.
Just imagine when media and other people continuously send you messages throughout the day. All hell breaks loose.
According to the NCRB 2016 report, around 39 crimes are committed every hour. Regrettably, over the past few years, violence against women in India has risen. The figures are well articulated and are statistically supported. The data presents a grim reality of women being targeted and being the victims of horrific crimes like trafficking, prostitution, molestation, online harassment, and rape. The NCRB data reveals that the crime rate against women rose from 41.7% to 53.9%, between 2011 and 2015. As many as 3,27,394 cases were reported in 2015 alone, including 34,651 cases of rape, 4,437 cases of attempted rape, 59,277 kidnapping and abductions, 7,634 dowry deaths, and a whopping 1,13,403 cases of domestic cruelty, among others.
The impetus for protecting a girl child can be made possible through education. A massive awareness campaign should be made available to the various masses in the segment. Women should be given equal importance in their role to protect the girl child. Literacy should be encouraged; we must also liberate ourselves from the caste and religious biases in which we often indulge. According to Transparency International, “It is heartening to know that systemic corruption is worst in India. India continues to be among the most corrupt countries in the world.”
Social and political corrupt practices are a way of life. Tax evasion is one of the most popular forms of corruption. We are having a free run of the parallel economy that’s currently underway in India; the corrupt practices raise difficult questions about morals and spiritual values, prejudice, tolerance and identity.
Toilet, a Love Story,” picturizes a movie to relate something that speaks boldly to 1.2 Billion people to one of India’s most pressing public health concerns. This has also brought in various elements of India’s frequent questions about the culture of impunity for its cropping up again and replicating of the rich and powerful.
India surpasses Canada, Australia, France and Italy regarding total wealth possessed and USA and China rank the top two positions of the wealthiest nations. India has total wealth more than France, Canada, Australia and Italy while the US and China top the list of the wealthiest nations in the world.
The services provided by ISRO in successfully launching Mars in its very first attempt has been commendable. Mangalyaan; Attempts are made to send an astronaut on Mars by 2022 and become the four the country to do so. India has moved up to 44th position on the IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking 2018, up one rank from last year. India has found its place amongst the most competitive nations when it ranked as the 40th position from amongst 137 countries which participated in the Global Competitiveness Report in the year 2017-2018 which is published by the World Economic Forum.
But a more serious problem is emerging. With an estimated 300 million people clearly under the poverty line and with a low per capita income is further aggravated by the estimated shortage of about 25 million jobs. More people are educated, more new jobs are created, and poverty is removed, as it is estimated at about 32.5 % of the population still lives below the poverty line. The Tribal people, Dalits, and casual workers remain the poorest class in India.
The number of poor people will keep on increasing if such a significant amount of jobs won’t be created. It is not about putting a man on the moon. It is not about being the topmost industrialised nations in the world. It is nor launching rockets or several more satellites. It’s about various dimensions like the per capita income is increased. It is when poverty is no longer prevalent. It is when the health of every individual in the the country should be assured and well taken care of, employment which is made available to one and all, when the corrupt do not raise their ugly heads, girls are well protected and are given ample opportunities for their growth, violence and hatred should be diminished, casteism and discrimination is wiped out and no longer practised, it is on that day that India will be truly independent of me.