“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots
of responsibility and the wings of independence.”
~~~ Denis Waitley
When we sing the national anthem on the morning of15th August it echoes across our land like a paean to freedom. Seventy years ago we had won the right to build the country we wanted and to decide what our future would be. For the first time in centuries we had won the right to dream.
If we could go back to the India of 1947 you would realise just how optimistic Jawaharlal Nehru’s words were, when he spoke of our ‘tryst with destiny’. Few people believed that India would survive. It was one of the poorest nations in the world and could not even feed its people and was dependent on food aid from developed nations. A majority of the people were illiterate, living in remote villages unconnected by roads. You were lucky if you owned a bicycle or a radio. People stood in endless queues for the basic necessities of life – food grain, cooking oil, even milk.
Seventy years later India is a very different country. We have built a network of highways connecting our villages to the cities and our factories produce everything from cars and steel to computers and food products. Our shops are full of products made in India. Today India is counted among the fastest growing nations in the world as we reach out to outer space with Indian built satellites and many in the team of scientists at ISRO are women.
Even ordinary Indians have enthusiastically embraced technology as plumbers and electricians build a network of clients through their mobile phones and farmers check the latest prices on the Internet. Even something as irritating as a traffic jam is a sign of our progress as we move confidently towards a better life.
Our progress begins with our commitment to democracy and we treasure our right to vote. The elections are our biggest festival and everyone from a camel driver in Rajasthan and a car mechanic in Tripura to a software engineer in Bangaluru and an industrialist in Mumbai will come out to vote. During the elections we are all equal and we all have a right to dream.
When Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam entered the Rashtrapati Bhawan he proved that in today’s India the son of a poor boatman from Rameswaram could aspire to be a scientist and one day become the President of India. Dr. Kalam is the finest example of what independence means to Indians. We can aspire, hope, work and dream.