Jan 26, 2010
This year, 26th January 2010 marks the completion of sixty years of the Indian Republic. On 26th January 1950, the Constitution of independent India was implemented making India the Sovereign Democratic Republic. The choice of 26th January 1950 was significant. It was on 26th January 1930, following the pledge of Complete Independence (Poorna Swaraj) taken by Jawahrlal Nehru as the President of the Congress at its annual session at Lahore on 31st December 1929, the people of India were called upon to gather in mass meetings on 26th January 1930 to voice their demand for Complete Independence from the British rule. In commemoration of this day, 26th January 1950 was chosen to implement the Constitution of India.
As per Indian Constitution, the head of the Indian State is the President elected indirectly by the elected members of the Parliament for a term of five years. Hence, while independence day has been celebrated by the Prime Minister unfurling the national flag at the rampart of the Red Fort at Delhi and addressing the nation, the Republic Day has been celebrated on the Rajpath where the Presidents would unfurl the national flag and take the salute of the armed forces and other paramilitary divisions during the march past on the Rajpath. The broadcast and telecast of the address of the Presidents to the nation have been on the eve of the Republic Day, that is, on 25th January every year.
This year, along with Mrs. Pratibha Patil the President of India, Mr. Lee Myung- Bak the President of South Korea will be the guest of honour for the Republic Day Parade. The Republic Day parade has been the occasion to show case India’s achievements through the march past by contingents of Indian armed forces, display of latest weapons and other scientific and technological advancements on floats and manifestation of India’s unity in diversity through tableaus and cultural groups. The Republic Day parade traditionally ends with a flypast by Indian Airforce jets. Republic Day celebrations are also held in state capitals, where the Governor of the state unfurls the national flag.
As India completes sixty years of existence as a republic and celebrates her 61st anniversary on 26th January 2010, it would be appropriate for us to take a stock of the achievements of the Indian Republic in different fields and what are our weaknesses and shortcomings during the past sixty years and to ponder over what lies ahead for the Indian Republic.
In geographic terms, India is the seventh largest, second most populous and the largest democratic nation in the world. The Indian Republic comprises of twenty eight States and seven Union Territories with parliamentary system of government. The economic reforms since 1991 have transformed India into one of the fastest growing economies of the world making it world’s twelfth largest economy at market exchange rates and fourth largest in purchasing power. Being the home for a pluralistic, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, the Indian Republic has been proud of her unity in diversity. India has been also blessed with diverse flora and fauna and rich deposits of mineral wealth.
The most significant achievements of the Indian Republic during the past sixty years include a robust democracy, deep roots of secularism, development of science and technology, growth of higher education and impressive economic progress. Today India is recognized as a super power in the making. She is a proud member of the International forums and no one can ignore this factor. India today is acknowledged as the third largest storehouse in the world for technically qualified workforce. There was a time when we were dependent on others even for feeding ourselves. However, today more than 2300 high yielding hybrid varieties of food grains and cash crops have been developed which make India self sustained in terms of food production.
India’s advance in military and space technology has been remarkable. India has developed indigenous missile systems that include Prithvi, Agni and Akash. The space research programmes have enabled India to place a number of satellites in the space for verity of purposes. The greatest achievement of India’s space research was sending an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in last year. There has been a revolution in communication with computers and internet facilities as well as the cell phone connectivity. The improvement in transport facilities are also quite impressive with many highways being constructed and railway lines being laid.
While we are proud of the tremendous progress that our nation has been making in different fields, we still have many more miles to go before we sleep. Since recent past there has been threat to Indian secular fabric due to the emergence of fundamentalist and obscurantist forces. The communal divide and violence in the name of religion and ethnic clashes in different parts of the country are slowly weakening theIndian Republic from within. The cancer of terrorism and attacks on innocent citizens of this country are serious matters of concern. The Naxalite menace is a major internal challenge to the sovereignty of the Republic of India. Personality and family dominated political parties and unscrupulous political practices have been causing great damamge to a healthy democratic system. Corruption that has been rampant in administration and law enforcing agencies has spread its tentacles in judicial system and even defence establishments eroding the faith of the people in the sanctity of these institutions.
The benefits of the economic reforms and progress have not yet percolated down to the larger section of the Indian population. Though there is progress in higher education in cities and towns, still a large portion of the population is still illiterate. Crimes against women such as molestation and rape and domestic violence have not registered any marked decline. Women and female children still suffer due to a number of disabilities and lack of proper education. Millions of people living in slums in large cities and downtrodden in rural India do not have proper living accommodation. Unemployment has been on the increase resulting in young people indulging criminal activities. Caste panchayats still rule the villages imposing their own system of justice to those who dare to breach the so called caste rules. Exploitation of the poor and marginalzed and atrocities against the downtrodden still make news.
There has been an acute shortage of electric power production and supply throughout the country forcing the authorities to resort to load shedding that has been affecting the economy and lives of the people. The sharp price rise since the past few months has eroded the purchasing power of the common people. Hoarding and black marketing by unscrupulous traders and merchants have made the lives of the common people miserable.
The strained relationship with India’s neighbours especially Pakistan and the economic and security challenges from China are matters of grave concern for the Indian republic. Attacks on Indian students and other residents in Australia have created a scare among the prospective Indian youth desiring to immigrate to other countries. The world economic meltdown in the last year and the financial crisis in the Middle East, especially in Dubai have rendered thousands of Indian workers jobless.
There have been questions regarding the need to change the Constitution to meet the modern challenges. Many people have been demanding the introduction of the Presidential system of government in the place of the Parliamentary system for effective governance. However, it should be born in mind that the Constitution of India that was implemented exactly sixty years ago was drafted with tremendous care and foresight by the eminent constitutionalists and leaders of integrity under the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. There is an inbuilt mechanism in the Indian constitution that allows amendments of certain provisions to meet the needs of the time and in fact the Constitution has been more than 100 amendmeents to the Indian Constitution so far.
Those who blame the Constituion of the Indian Republic for not being in tune with the time should remember that there is nothing wrong with the Constitution of India, but some thing is drastically wrong with implementation of its provisions by all the three wings of the government, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Let us as a nation have an introspection and accept the fact that it is not the Constitution of the Indian Republic that has failed us, but it is we as a nation have failed the Constitution of the Indian Republic.
Though it seems that the list of the problems faced by the Indian Republic is longer than its achievements, it cannot be denied that in a complex society like that of India problems cannot be avoided but could be controlled by adopting policies with a foresight and administration that is efficient. In spite of the monumental challenges that the Indian republic faces, the nation will march forward as it had always done in the past. The world economic and financial crisis had not affected India as much as it did other countries due to certain fundamental strength that the country has inherited.
As the Republic of India completes its sixty years let us resolve to build a new nation in our mind and heart, doing away with the communal, linguistic and casteist and religious prejudices with a renewed faith in Unity in Diversity. Let us not forget the sacrifices of our great freedom fighters and thousands of common people who struggled against the British rule so that we might breathe the air of independence and live as free citizens of this great nation. Let us preserve and build a strong India so that our future generations will remember us with gratitude that we strengthened our shoulders on which they could stand with pride and look at the world with new hope and vision. Long live the Indian Republic.