India and its multiple predicaments

A fragmented whole

India and its multiple predicaments

The independent Indian social order was a product of the freedom struggle and carried its stamp all the way. The strengths and weaknesses of that struggle have seeped  remarkably into the social fabric of the independent Indian society. So what were the unique and distinctive features of this freedom struggle?

The end of the second world war in 1945 brought about many monumental changes in the texture of modern world. End of colonialism was one such change. Between 1945 and 1960, nearly 120 countries became free from colonial domination. The freedom however did not immediately bring either stability or affluence.

The newly independent countries were engaged with a serious challenge of how to set in motion, a process of affluence while retaining their newly found freedom. It was not an easy task and many countries slipped into one-party rule, military dictatorship, neo-colonial domination, or simply anarchy. India by comparison did a commendable job of retaining its independence and setting about a process of planned economic development within a parliamentary democratic framework.

This was an unprecedented combination that had not been tried elsewhere. It was indicative of the confidence that the leaders of the national movement had in themselves and in the Indian people. The Indian freedom struggle was not simply a campaign to liberate India from British imperialism. It was also a grand project to build a modern India along democratic and civil libertarian lines.

The leaders of the national movement actually prepared a blueprint of how independent India was to take its rightful place in the world. The national movement showed a preference for the major modern values (democracy, secularism, internationalism) but at the same time sought to retain some of the positive features of the Indian traditions.  

So how has the Indian nation fared since 1947? Two principal ideas have fed into the growth of the Indian nation  – democracy and pluralism. Both the ideas constitute the strength of the Indian nation but also challenge it.

Democracy has acquired a firm footing on the Indian soil, and constitutes a major accomplishment of the Indian people. We often tend to take this for granted,  as something natural and predestined. In fact it should be seen as a distinctive achievement of the India people.

Indian democracy has allowed and even promoted the empowerment of the marginalised people and has effectively restrained both the coercive powers of the State and the social bribery mechanism of the Market from exercising their powers in an unrestrained manner.

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