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Friday, 27 January 2012

True swaraj…

While we have surpassed many obstacles to become a sovereign country 62 years ago, there is a lot more that we, as a country, need to do to become a “developed” nation, feels Samvitha Ram

Today, India celebrates 62 years of being a sovereign, secular and democratic republic. Every year on this day, our amazing country of approximately 1.17 billion people celebrates Republic Day by commemorating the date on which the Constitution officially came into force, and India finally became a truly independent nation in her own stead.

On this day, many writings list the various obstacles that India overcame on her road to independence, and cite examples of the nationalist movements that helped grant us independence from our colonisers. We take pride, today, in the fact that we stand as the world's largest democracy.

Yet, on the other 364 days of the year, it has become characteristic of the youth and the rising generation to complain about what they see as the many flaws of this country, what they see as the “real” India.

It seems only fitting that we explore a couple of key concerns of our next generation, and delve a little deeper into these over-spouted ‘realities' that litter our print and social media today.

Debated issues

A frequently voiced concern of the current generation, and around the world for that matter, is our booming population. Vivid pictures of overpopulated cities and crowded slum areas fill the national and international media.

While these may be true, and do portray a reality, it is not the full version of the truth. Yes, we are a growing population, but it doesn't have to be seen as such a terrible thing. With a population demographic that is relatively young (42 per cent are between 13 and 35, as compared to the world average of 18 per cent), India's youth has the potential to focus their energies in “nation building” and growing our economy.

In addition, many argue that it is this sense of always being a part of an overpopulated culture that has resulted in many Indian citizens developing an amazing sense of hospitality.

Even though we may be cramped for physical space, we have space in our hearts to accommodate and live happily with our crowds.

Another issue that the youth today talk about is the inability of our educational system to cope with the demands of a volatile and unpredictable future. It is often said that the high focus on rote learning in many schools and colleges leaves students unprepared for the workplace of tomorrow and our youth are unable to compete in the “global” economy.

This point of view certainly is grounded in the truth, but needs to be viewed in a slightly different perspective. Indians are a race that can thrive on “creative chaos” — ever willing to learn and able to work through ambiguous situations.

And our country is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity, despite the limitations of our educational system.

Most importantly, at the bottom of the pyramid, with the RTE (Right to Education Act) coming into force, we are already seeing rising literacy levels across the county with several individual states within India reaching almost the 90 per cent numbers in terms of literacy, almost on par with the literacy rates of many of the “developed” nations.

Progress

Yes, the fact is that at the end of the day, India is still a developing country, and a relatively new one at that.

In its six-odd decades of independent existence, it has come a long way from being a dependent, colonised territory to a large, blossoming nation, with a beautiful fusion of cultures, a fast-growing economy, and best of all, a relatively young population demographic.

The youth of India has to take inspiration from the late American President Kennedy's words: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

This attitude amongst an increasingly socially and politically aware youth, holds the key to our country actualizing Gandhiji's dream of “restoring our control over our futures and destiny”, and achieving his vision of true swaraj.

Samvitha is a student of American International School.

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