The way one lyrist has written, “Hum logo ko samajh sako to samjho dilbar jaani; jitna bhi tum samjhoge utni hogi hayerani”…in a nut-shell we Indian’s are most “unpredictable”. When the expectations are low…we have performed really well and contrary to that when expectations were very high…most of the time we have failed to live up to those expectations.
As we are going to complete 58 yrs of independence on 15th August 2005, it is a pleasure to share with you the facts about India, Vision India 2025 (From Ordinary person’s point of View), and India in 21st Century.
From Independence…till now
India was a British colony. It earned its independence from the British on 15th August 1947. Day before that Pakistan which was created as a result of partition of British India was established and flanked on two sides of India: West Pakistan which is called today Pakistan, and east Pakistan, now an independent state called Bangladesh. After its independence, the political leaders of India adopted the liberal democratic system for the country.
Since its independence, India has transformed a lot. When India attained independence in 1947, its population was around 400 million people. Now there are billion people in India. India is the largest democracy in the world. It has the biggest number of people with franchise rights and the largest number of Political Parties, which take part in election campaign.
Before its independence, India was never a single country but a bunch of different entities. Many predicted that India, because of diversities in its cultures, religion, languages, castes, manners, local histories, nationalities and identities, would not survive as a single democratic country, but would break up into smaller countries.
Since independence, India had many political problems. During independence the most burning issues were the riots between the Hindus and Muslims while the Sikhs were siding with Hindus. Another issue was convincing the Princely states not to declare independence or join Pakistan but to join the Indian Union. India also had a few wars with its neighbors on border issues.
India also has many internal problems. Different communities with different identities – regional, language, caste, religion – demanded different rights for their communities. Some communities demanded more autonomy for their cultures within the Indian states. Others demanded autonomous states within the Indian Union, while the others demanded to be independent from India.
With all its problems India survives as a single state with democratic character.
How much do you know about India? (India – Fact File)
Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and Pakistan
Population: 1,080,264,388 (July 2005 est.)
Population Growth Rate: 1.4% (2005 est.)
Life expectancy: 64.35 years
Sex ratio: 1.06 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Composition of Religion: Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 census)
Languages: English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language
Administrative Break-up: 28 states and 7 union territories
Executive Heads: President A.P.J. Abdul KALAM (since 26 July 2002); Vice President Bhairon Singh SHEKHAWAT (since 19 August 2002)
Head of government: Prime Minister Manmohan SINGH (since May 2004)
Economic Overview: India’s diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Services are the major source of economic growth, though two-thirds of the workforce is in agriculture. The UPA government has committed to furthering economic reforms and developing basic infrastructure to improve the lives of the rural poor and boost economic performance. Government controls on foreign trade and investment have been reduced in some areas, but high tariffs (averaging 20% in 2004) and limits on foreign direct investment are still in place. The government has indicated it will do more to liberalize investment in civil aviation, telecom, and insurance sectors in the near term. Privatization of government-owned industries has proceeded slowly, and continues to generate political debate; continued social, political, and economic rigidities hold back needed initiatives. The economy has posted an excellent average growth rate of 6.8% since 1994, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points. India is capitalizing on its large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language to become a major exporter of software services and software workers. Despite strong growth, the World Bank and others worry about the combined state and federal budget deficit, running at approximately 9% of GDP. The huge and growing population is the fundamental social, economic, and environmental problem. In late December 2004, a major tsunami took at least 60,000 lives in India, caused massive destruction of property, and severely affected the fishing fleet.
GDP: purchasing power parity – $3.319 trillion (2004 est.)
Important Years for India, since independence
1947: India gains independence at the stroke of midnight on Aug. 15. Hours before, Pakistan is born. As many as 6 million people cross the communal border in a two-way exodus. Rampages among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs claim a million lives.
1948: Spiritual leader Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi is shot dead Jan. 30 by a Hindu extremist. An advocate of non-violent political action, Gandhi had campaigned against British rule and sectarian violence for two decades.
The fighting stops in Kashmir; the disputed territory belongs to India.
1951: India’s first Five-Year Plan is initiated.
1961: Indian troops move in to liberate Goa from the Portuguese.
1962: Indo-Chinese hostilities break out on the Tibetan border.
1965: Political tension rises with Pakistan over Kashmir. India proclaims Hindi the national language.
1967: Drought and major famine strike India, especially the Bihar region.
1971: India goes to war against Pakistan, recognizes the independent state of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan).
1974: Nuclear tests are performed in the Rajasthan desert.
1975: PM Gandhi is accused of electoral crimes. A state of emergency is declared across the country, restricting political and individual rights.
1977: State of emergency ends. Cyclones plague the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu regions.
1984: Sikhs occupy the Golden Temple compound in Amritsar. On June 6, Indian troops storm the temple. On Dec. 2, a leak at the Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal kills 2,000 and leaves millions affected by chemical poisoning.
1987: Indian peacekeeping troops are sent to Sri Lanka to deal with Tamil insurrectionists.
1990: Singh announces plans to reserve places for the lower castes in the public service. Riots erupt across the country.
Hindu militants attempt construction of a temple on the site of the former Babri Masjid mosque in Uttar Pradesh. A procession to the site leads to thousands of arrests. Clashes between police and Hindu militants occur throughout Northern India.
1992: India’s worst financial scandal, involving state-owned commercial banks, leads to a major slump on the Bombay stock market.
Sectarian violence erupts after Hindu extremists level the 16th century Babri mosque at Ayodhya on Dec. 6. The violence is the worst seen since Partition. The government’s offer to build a mosque and a Hindu temple at the site fails to appease both sides.
1993: Hundreds are killed when bombs go off in Bombay public buildings. Four days later, a bomb ignites in Calcutta. Pakistan denies complicity.
1995: The World Bank allocates a $980 million loan, its largest ever, to aid Indian bank reforms.
2002: Communal riots in Gujarat, hundred’s of people were killed.
Vision India, 2025 (From an Ordinary Person’s Point of View)
1) Ensure dignity, Self-Respect and Pride for each individual, irrespective of age, gender, region or religion.
2) Drinking Water, Food, Cloth, Shelter and education for all.
3) World Class infrastructure: roads, airports and railways.
4) Every year there is a loss of billions of rupees due to flood; only solution is “Unification” of all rivers.
5) Only one caste (Brotherhood) and one religion (Humanity), across the length and breadth of the country.
6) No “reservation”, no subsidiary, no “special privilege” and no discount, on the basis of Region, Religion, Community, Profession and Community.
7) Minimum education (Graduate), Minimum Administrative Experience (7-10 yrs) and retirement age (67 yrs) for all politicians. Also, annual appraisal system for all ministers.
(These are the few points, I am able to pen down; however I have not mentioned anything about security and foreign policy…because as an ordinary person above mentioned things are of more importance than anything else)
India in 21st Century
Everyone recognizes that the twenty-first century is the Century of Knowledge. Nations, which have mastered the production of knowledge, its dissemination, its conversion into wealth and social good and its protection have assumed a leadership position in the world today. But it must be recognized that knowledge without innovation is of no value. It is through the process of innovation alone that new knowledge can be created. It is innovation, which converts knowledge into wealth and social good.
India was a leader in innovation several centuries ago. In fact, our innovations were diverse and pioneering. They included
1. Remarkable town planning,
2. The use of standardized burnt bricks for dwelling houses
3. Interlinked drainage systems
4. Wheel-turned ceramics and solid-wheeled carts.
5. The dockyard at Lothal in Gujarat is regarded as the largest maritime structure ever built by a bronze-age community.
6. The discovery of zero and the decimal place value system by Indians dates back to the Vedic period.
7. Our pioneering work in algebra, trigonometry and geometry was truly outstanding.
8. Indian innovations in medicine, especially in Ayurveda, not only aimed at the cure of diseases but, more importantly, on the preservation of health.
9. The innovations in surgery included pioneering efforts in laprotomy, lithotomy and plastic surgery.
10. The iron pillar at Delhi, which testifies to the achievements in metallurgy some 1500 years ago, is truly inspirational even today.
Indian civilization was characterized by scientific thought, capabilities and techniques at levels far more advanced than others.
In spite of this great heritage and record of accomplishments, why did India fall behind in the ensuing centuries? When the scientific and industrial revolutions took place in the West a few hundred years ago, there was a period of stagnation in India. The lack of development over this period was a result of a hierarchical approach, irrational subjective thinking, and build up of superstitions and superficial ritualism. We have lost the leadership position. This cannot continue into the twenty-first century. We must regain this position with determined action.
Our confidence in building the new innovative India of our dreams stems from our major successes in the arena of many technological innovations that have made such a difference to the nation. Some prominent examples include
the blue (space), green (agriculture), white (milk) and gray (software) revolutions. Let us just take one example.
1. The Indian space program, for example, has designed and sent into space a series of satellites that, among other things, comprise the largest domestic communication system in the Asia-Pacific region.
2. It has also developed a range of launch vehicles, the most recent being a geo-synchronous launch vehicle with an 1800 kg payload. These developments have helped in the application of space technology for national needs in communication, meteorology, broadcasting, and remote sensing. All of this has been achieved in a relatively cost-effective manner. The Indian space programmer’s current annual budget is equivalent to US $450 million while NASA’s budget, in comparison, is over $15 billion.
3. Other innovations serving specific Indian needs include C-DOT digital switches, CorDECT cost-effective wireless-local-loop products, the Simputer, which is a low-cost computer and the Param supercomputer.
4. The last is an example of “denial-driven innovation,” illustrating that India has the potential to tackle highly advanced technological issues, given the proper motivation.
Yesterday was good since then we have traveled a lot; covered a lot of distance, but still there are miles to go. Building a nation is not easy. We have to “learn from our past and focus on future”. The way ahead is not easy…is not a bed of roses. Instead of pulling each other, lets grow together…lets be a “Team India”.