Fr. Jolly
Independent India @ 70 years
14th Aug, 2017
Fr. Jolly

“At the stroke of today’s midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” said Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, on 14th August 1947 on the eve of the 1st morning fresh air of Independent India.  Ever since then, we continue to breath this fresh air of freedom, equality, fraternity, justice and liberty in Indian soil and India psychic.  

Today, as a great nation on this earth we are 70 years young!  Celebrating the 70th Independence Day of the country leaves every patriotic Indian with a deep nostalgic feeling of being proud to be a true citizen of this great nation which is built with the sweat and blood of thousands of freedom fighters and martyrs of our country.  Courage, Patriotism, Truth and Non-violence were the real weapons used in the decades of struggles for securing the freedom of our country.  Our country’s political Independence was the result of organized mass-movements spearheaded by people of all walks of life and people of all religious and social groups of our nation with the common vision of a truly secular, unified and inclusive nation which respects and promotes  diverse social, cultural and religious groups and communities.  And the common trust around which our great democracy is built is that of – ‘of the people, for the people and by the people’.

Securing political independence from the British, India’s 70 years of existence as the world’s largest democracy with 29 distinct ethno-linguistic groups and about 1.3 billion population which is about 17.5% of the world population is a matter of great pride for every Indian. Our great nation has come a long way as a country of such diversity and complexity. There are a multitude of successes and challenges that the country has experienced all along the way.           

While having made several landmark achievements in the socio-economic progress of the country, India has also gone through several changes over these past years. From political arena to the social life, Indians have witnessed numerous changes in the different spheres of their lives.  The technological, social and economic progress the country has achieved in these past years, has enabled this great nation to be one of the frontline countries among the international fraternity and seemingly a key player in the international trade and consumer market.

However, as we celebrate the country’s 70th Independence Day, it also provides an opportunity for self-introspection ofthe ground realities of the people of this great nation and the direction in which this nation is moving forward.  Despite the economic growth achieved over the past years, there are millions of Indians who are forced to go bed without a square meal!  In spite of having the Right to Education as a basic and undeniable right of every child of this country, there are millions of children of this country who do not have access to quality education; there are millions of children who are forced to be engaged in different forms of child labour, leaving aside their aspirations of schooling and education; there is an ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, between the urban poor and the rural poor, between tribal poor and non-tribal poor; ensuring all season roads for the transportation needs of the rural and forest-dwelling communities and achieving marked growth in the quality of public health care systems still remain as dreams to be chased; ensuring clean drinking water to the large rural segments is yet another challenge for the country;

Agriculture being the largest segment of the country’s livelihood engagement of about 70% of rural masses, the story of Indian farmers is one of pessimism, distress and vulnerability.  The unabated suicides of distressed Indian farmers weighs heavily on the psychic of Indian conscience. Added to these woes are threats posed by issues of climatechange, exploitation by money lenders and middle men, exploitation, lack of easy credit facilities for farming, anti-farmer policies, etcwhich take a heavy toll on the struggles of Indian farmers

Respect and appreciation for different cultural and religious belief systems and peaceful co-existence with people of different Faiths were perhaps the heritage of Indian ethos and democracy for several decades in the past. The rich Indian constitution guarantees the fundamental right to practice, preach and propagate any religious belief systems and religious values in the country. However, today there are visible signs and specific acts of religious intolerance in the different parts of our country posing a very big danger to the secular and hegemonic fabric of our beloved nation.Religious fundamentalism is showing up its ugly face in numerous ways, promoting fear, animosity and hatred towards people of other faiths and social and religious minority groups.  Such cultural and religious aggressions will make irreparable damage to mutual trust and peaceful coexistence of people of different religions of different religions. 

As our great democracy turns 70 years old, it calls all the citizens of this great nation to make firm resolve to take our country to greater progress through responsible and balanced development approaches, social and economic inclusion of all sections of the society especially those on the periphery of social and economic strata, reinforcing the constitutional and democratic values such as freedom, fraternity, liberty, secularism and justice and  ensuring responsible governance systems at all levels.  Let this Independence Day celebrations help to bind us together for firmly as true daughters and sons our great mother – Bharat Mata

Jai Hind!

 

 

 

CBCI Council for Women
Catholic Education in India
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX Secretary General, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India