Thursday, August 16, 2007

India @ Sixty - What does it mean to Independent?

What does it mean to be independent?

There has been an overdose of patriotism past few days to coincide with 60 years India's independence. Every one got a day off, schools had special meetings and distributed sweets, media went on overdrive with stories on India's Independence. Not to be outdone, India Inc., got on to the bandwagon. Airtel flooded the airwaves with its catchy Jayahe tunes composed by none other than AR Rahman.

Sifting through all this noise, what does it really mean to be independent? Sure, India is now being led by Indians, but are Indians better off today than 60 years ago? The answer might be different depending on the person. Some people would list a basket of problems and some folks would talk about the IT revolution some other would talk about every thing in between.

From my perspective, universal franchise and its continuous exercise is the true meaning of India being independent. Yes, there are umpteen problems with the universal suffrage but this fundamental ability given to all Indians disregard to their color, caste, creed or education has changed India like no other program or right. It has brought about a paradigm shift in the social status of countless millions and has given opportunities that didn't exist 60 years before.

What is your take? What does it mean to be independent for you?

ps: Yesterday, I asked several people (over 10) to articulate the difference between Independence day and Repbulic day.... and surprisingly none did.. Can you?

Tomorrow: India @ Sixty - Ten events that changed India.