“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity…”
Given above is an excerpt from a speech which is arguably the greatest speech of the 20th century, Tryst With Destiny, delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of the independent India, on the eve of India’s independence, towards the midnight of 15th August 1947. This date is of huge historical importance for each and every Indian citizen. And 15th August 2017, that is the date today marks the 70th Independence Day of India. So I just wanted to talk about and acknowledge some of India’s achievements in the last seven decades.
- Political Integration of India: At the time of partition in 1947, India was divided into 562 princely states also known as Native States. After independence all the princely were given a choice to accede to either India or Pakistan, or to become independent nations. Many people feared that they would not accede, most of the people and territory would be fragmented. The Indian National Congress (INC) considered Vallabhbhai Patel best man for the task of achieving unification of the princely states with the Indian dominion. And Patel proved himself and he was the one responsible for the unification of India. This is a big reason why he is given the title of ‘The Iron Man of India’.
- Accession of Kashmir: The credit for this accomplishment should again be given to Vallabhbhai Patel. Raja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, signed an agreement of accession as a result of which Kashmir became an integral part of India. This decision by Raja Hari Singh led to four long wars between India and Pakistan and has also led to a special status for the state of Kashmir under Article 370.
- Reorganisation of States:
1. In 1969, the state of Meghalaya was created out of the state of Assam. Initially, the state was given autonomous status within Assam, but subsequently it was made a full-fledged state. This raised the strength of Indian states to 18.
2. In 1971, with the elevation of the union territory of Himachal Pradesh to the status of a state, the strength of Indian states rose to 19 and then to 21 with the conversion of the Union Territories of Tripura and Manipur into states.
3. In 1975, Sikkim was admitted as a state of the Indian Union. Initially, Sikkim was given the status of an associate state but was subsequently made a full-fledged state.
4. In 1986 it was decided to give Mizoram, a Union Territory of India, the status of a full-fledged state. However, it actually acquired the status of a state in February 1987 and became the 23rd state of the Indian Union.
5. In February 1987 Arunachal Pradesh, another Union Territory of India, was also given the status of a state and became the twenty-fourth state of the Indian Union.
6. In May 1987 the state of Goa was created by separating the territory of Goa from the Union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. While Daman and Diu continued to be a Union Territory, Goa became the 25th state of the Indian Union. Three new states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal were created in November 2000.
7. In 2014, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 recognised Telangana as 29th state of India.
- Creation of Bangladesh and India-Pakistan war: India intervened in the uprising in East Pakistan. The relationship with Pakistan was already tensed after the 1965 war. Also, the defeat of India in 1962 at the hands of China had weakened India’s position in the region, thus helping in the creation of Bangladesh has re-established India as an important power in south Asia.
Now let me put some light on how India has made an impact on a global level.
- India is one of the largest consumers in the world and so many foreign companies have started trading with India which was not the case in 1947.
- Although GDP growth rate of China is higher, India is preferred destination for foreign investors – for soft money as well as for hard money.
- Largest refining capacity in the world – (USA is second) but owing to shortage of crude India has to depend upon Imports (Thanks mainly to Dhirubhai and Mukesh Ambani).
- Steel production – This is entirely new window (Thanks to Tatas, Jindal and LN Mittal).
- Forging Industry – India has the largest forging capacity in the world (Thanks to Baba Kalyani).
- Largest producer of milk – though quality continues to remain the issue (Thanks to NDDB, Anand).
- Indian military strength in 1947 was just pathetic. Despite war with China and four wars with Pakistan, Indian Military forces have respectable position in world.
In 2004, the world stood up and applauded, when the people of India (80% Hindu) chose a Christian woman (Sonia Gandhi) as leader; she stepped aside and nominated a Sikh (Manmohan Singh); who was duly sworn in by the President who happened to be Muslim (APJ Abdul Kalam). Whereas America got its first non-white President four years later. It has yet to get a woman President, or a non-Christian (though there have been atheist Presidents).
- From a nation under bondage we have become the third biggest economy in the world.
- Indian doctors and engineers are contributing to not just the growth of India but also in many other nations in the world.
- The Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM), also known as Mangalyaan, is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24th September, 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is India’s first interplanetary mission and ISRO has become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency. It is the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation in the world to do so in its first attempt.
These are a few of the major achievements of India in the last 70 years of independence.
Having said all this I must also add that after all these accomplishments India is still not a perfect country, we still have corruption, poverty, illiteracy, cultural issues, etc but if we compare India on 15th August, 2017 to the same date in 1947 I am pretty confident to say that we have gone through drastic changes and improvements. We are still a developing country and are slowly improving!