15th August is the celebration of an independent India. Schools, colleges, and government offices mark the day by parades, speeches, and unfurling of the Tricolours. For children it is a holiday and a day when they get lots of candies. It has been 62 years since we gained independence from the British and this month we should contemplate what have we have achieved and where we as a nation want to go.
India, is proud of its democracy and collectively Indian voters have always made the right choice. The recent Lok Sabha elections yet again prove that the Indian public is very mature when it comes to exercising its democratic rights. India has also made lot of progress in the economic front. This prosperity is visible in the way we dress, eat, and live. Modern gadgets have changed our lives and we do not lag behind the world leaders in adopting the latest technological advancements.
We should be proud of our journey as a nation since 1947, though there have been many shameful incidents along the way. As we start playing a bigger role on the world stage we have to look inwards and see how strong we are as a nation.
Problems that we inherited in the middle of the last century still persist with us today. We still have problems of illiteracy, poverty, corruption, bureaucratic red-tapes, law and order breakdown, etc. We have also failed in improving our society as various social evils like casteism, communalism, dowry deaths, child marriages still exist, laws notwithstanding.
What we need as a nation is a road map developed with consensus. A road map to where we want to be as a nation. A collective goal for all of us, a future that everyone has a stake in, a target that everyone aspires towards. We all have to buy in to this idea of India which will be beneficial to all Indians regardless of religion, caste, language, or region. India that provides free and quality education to all its children in a language of their choosing, provides jobs to those who are willing to work, improves law and order machinery so that the weakest amongst us can seek justice without fear, improve administration so that it breaks from its colonial mind-sets and understand that it is here to serve people and not the political party in power. A system that is transparent and with built-in accountability is the only way to ensure that it will be responsive to the needs of a big and diverse country like India.
How can this ambitious goal be achieved? For this, we have to go back to about a hundred years ago and take lessons from India's freedom movement. We need visionary leaders of this century. Leaders like Ali Brothers, Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Jawahar Lal Nehru. Movement is led by big leaders but it also needs grass root level leaders who can go door to door and explain the importance of the movement. Importance of Urdu journalism in stroking the fires of freedom movement cannot be under estimated. Media in India now is more widespread and reaches a large proportion of population and it needs to join in this second freedom struggle to educate and motivate Indians.
This movement should work with the government but should be independent of it, so that it can monitor the administration and make it responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people.
We as individuals have to understand the duties and responsibilities of being a citizen. It is correct to petition and protest when government fails in its duties but it is also important that we hold on to our end of this arrangement by fulfilling the duties expected of us as a citizen of a country. We have to follow the law at all times, we have to take care of fellow human beings, we have to see how our action is affecting others and correct our behaviour if it is harmful to others.
(By Kashif ul-Huda)