With the stroke of midnight hour but before the morning clock of hen, India attained independence on August 15, 1947. Before one could heave a sigh of relief for breaking the shackles of helotry, partition of India and macabre communal violence claimed more than a million lives and marred the festive mood of the country.
Liberty, when it begins to take roots, is a plant that grows rapidly. India, with a population of 1.30 billion, holds the title of ‘world’s largest democracy’ in the 21st century. Since independence, India has had uninterrupted democratic rule, except during the phase of emergency in seventies. However, people of India rejected the dictatorship imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. India has progressed considerably since independence in terms of building ropes of infrastructure and connecting cities all across the country by using the latest technology in transport and communication. India used to import food grains and was dependent upon international food aids till 1960s. Thanks to the Green Revolution, India can not only fend for itself but also exports food grains to other countries across the world, today.
While the eighties of the twentieth century witnessed fundamental change in India’s political landscape, the nineties were the golden age of Indian economy as doors for privatisation and globalisation were opened up. Today, India has ushered in high rates of economic growth and in higher scale of domestic economic and political reforms with an aim to attract international investors. India has gained hefty diplomatic clout at multilateral international forums including the UN (United Nations). India has also improved bilateral relations with traditional allies and also made new friends by extending the hands of friendship to several other countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Central America.
There are notable achievements for India in all these years since independence such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, 86th (Right to Education as a fundamental right) and 93rd (special provisions for socially and educationally Backward Classes) Amendment of the Constitution of India, the rise of literacy rate from 16% in 1951 to 74% in 2019. The improvement in the enrolment ratio of children (in the age group of 6-13) rose from 43% in 1951 to 96% in 1991. Today, we have 789 universities, 23 IITs and 20 IIMs to be proud of as centres of higher education.
There have been noteworthy improvements in health indicators, e.g., life expectancy, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, etc. Increasing penetration of healthcare services across the country viz. Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakarm, Janani Suraksha Yojana, Reproductive Healthcare Programme, Health Services to mothers, newborn children and adolescents, helped in controlling diseases such as polio, HIV, TB, leprosy, etc. Life expectancy has risen from 32 in 1951 to 68.89 years at present.
India has made a remarkable progress in the field of space research. Since its inception in 1969, the ISRO has harnessed space technology for national development. With successful launch of ‘Mangalyaan’, Chandrayaan I & II, and Mission Shakti, India has taken the world in its stride. ISRO managed to create a world record of launching 104 satellites on February 15, 2017 by using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in a single mission. Out of 104 satellites, 101 were foreign satellites, surpassing the previous record of launching 37 satellites by Russia through a Russian Dnepr rocket on June 19, 2014.
India has improved its record on scale of gender justice as revolutionary changes have taken place in the status of women since independence. Several legislative measures such as Hindu Succession Act 1956, Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, Equal Remuneration Act 1976, Domestic Violence Act 2005, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, etc. have been introduced specifically for women welfare. After independence, more number of women have joined politics and their number in politics is increasing every year at all the levels—village, state and national.
Major shifts are taking place at diplomatic front. India’s voice carries weight at international platform and many countries that shied away from India earlier are coming closer to it. China understands fully that India of the 21st century is not the one that China fought a war with in 1962. Pakistan hesitates to launch proxy war on India now by infiltrating terrorists on India’s land because India goes for both preemptive as well as curative strikes to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. India has emerged as a strong state that does not strike any country first but defends its sovereignty by striking much harder to destroy the enemy like never before. India has posited itself in leadership role to tackle the issues related to global warming (climate change). India has already ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change. India has ended the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir as Pakistan used to orchestrate so by abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution of India. As always, Jammu and Kashmir is the integral part of India. India has become more assured internally with better military capability, economic indicators, scientific research and investment across the board in all the economic sectors.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. The ‘tide’ is going to serve India in attaining the coveted status of the Holy Grail in international order—Permanent Seat at the United Nations Security Council.