Greatest Achievements of India in 75 Years

“There is no India”… “there was never an India” and “there will never be an India”.

No one gave India a chance. Not only before independence but also after.20 years after India’s independence, a British journalist wrote:
“Can India stay in one piece – or will it fragment?

When one looks at this vast country and where there are 50 crore people,15 major languages, different religions, and so many races, it seems almost impossible that these people could form one nation

But India and Indians have proved all of that wrong. How did we manage to do so? This is what I want to tell you in this post.

“When the whole world is sleeping, in the middle of the night. India will awake to life and freedom.”

Look at this map. This is the map of India before independence.

There were two different Indias:
the ones in yellow are the provinces directly under the British crown. Those in red are the princely states that were being ruled by Kings and Queens.

India had a challenge of merging 565 princely states and 17 provinces into one country. And India was surprisingly helped by one person in this. Lord Mountbatten. who did the initial talking with the rulers of the princely states. He convinced most of them that if they did not merge with India, they will not be able to survive independently.

Most princely states agreed before 15 August. But there were many that didn’t agree. And to convince them two men played an important role:
Vallabh Bhai Patel and VP Menon Both had very different strategies. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel initially threw a lot of parties for these kings. But when they didn’t agree, he used other techniques.

When kings of Malabar, Odisha and Katiawada did not agree for the merger, Patel leveraged protests happening in these states and convinced the kings that in reality, their subjects want to accede with India and so they were not going against them. And if they went against them, it would become very difficult for them to rule.

VP Menon on the other hand managed negotiations very diplomatically. Ramchandra Guha mentions in his book that a few months before independence, New York Times would have two sets of news on V P Menon; every other day. The first news would be that VP Menon has gone to a particular princely state.

And the very next news would be: that Princely state merged with India. This showed how smoothly Menon did his job. So, Patel and V P Menon managed to create a unified India.

But India had to overcome problems which were way worse than this. Because Indian freedom was marked with widespread bloodshed.

“The freedom to burn, loot and murder… “Punjab was set on fire” While States like Delhi and Karachi were celebrating for independence,

“Nobody in India will love me for what I did” These were the words of Cyril Radcliffe, a British lawyer, who with no previous knowledge of India, who had been given only 5 weeks to set boundaries for India and Pakistan! And to do this already difficult job, he was provided with
out-of-date maps and incorrect census reports!

It resulted in the LARGEST human migration in history with nearly 15 million people being forced to flee from their homes. Settling these people was not the only problem of India

India had to deal with a number of armed insurgencies.
Like in Nagaland.

“Nagas are not Indians; their territory is not a part of the Indian Union. We will save this truth at all costs and always.”

This is what was written on a plaque, barely 20 kms away from Kohima, Nagaland’s capital. This shows the kind of insurgencies that existed in India

Another major problem was if India would be able to frame a Constitution that’d be fair to the diversity of 50 crore people. Then India was very poor. Every eight in 10 people were living below the poverty line. Such problems can make it very difficult for a country to stay united

There are many examples like this in other nations in history. For example, Sudan got divided recently to form another country- South Sudan because the Southern part of Sudan was suffering from extreme poverty and they started to rebel against their government.

So, the question is- How was India able to evade such a scenario?

Thankfully, our leaders knew that if we had to sustain with our diversity, then they would have to solve several problems. And that would happen by improving our social and economic conditions. Because when there’s enough resource to be divided among different group of people, there will be lesser fighting and more stability.

I’d like to tell you about three-Bangladesh, South Sudan, Timor-Leste. All these countries were created because of one issue – locals
felt that they didn’t have enough representation in their government. And our leaders were aware of this risk

This is why the Constituent Assembly was formed of over 300 members and even political opponents of the Congress were recruited. Like B R Ambedkar, who differed with Congress and Gandhi on many issues. And Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, a member of Congress’ rival Hindu Mahasabha.

Also, we are told that our voting rights are our rights. But back then, there was no assurance of that. In the 1937 general elections, only 14% of the people could vote and the voting rights were based on the basis of education, income, property, tax-paying capacity.

People thought that how can a poor country like India give voting rights to everyone? But Jawaharlal Nehru and the other leaders wanted
to give these voting rights to everyone.

Nehru ji thought a lot about this but he had to deal with a huge problem as well. That was the demand for linguistic states that is, Indian states should be formed on the basis of language.

Because Jawaharlal Nehru believed that dividing states on the basis of language could divide India as well, But many people in many parts of India were protesting and demanding a separate state.

Like Potti Sriramulu, who went on a hunger strike in December 1952 demanding a separate Telugu-speaking state, Andhra Pradesh Or the 107 people killed in police firings during the movement for the creation of Maharashtra state in 1955-56. Ultimately, Nehru and other leaders accepted the division of India along linguistic lines

This is what prevented from happening to India, what happened to Pakistan or Sri Lanka. And finally was the issue of representation of the disadvantaged communities that had been discriminated against for many, many years Dalits and Tribals.

For example, the British government classified castes like Ahirs, Gujjars and the tribal communities as criminal tribes. This meant that any person belonging to these castes could be considered criminals and they could be arrested without any hard evidence.

The Indian leaders were aware of this discrimination. This is why reservations were introduced for tribals and Dalits in political and educational institutes. But this did not solve issues.

For example, Mahar, a dalit community, were barred from recruitment in army positions in 1971 despite the fact that they Mahars
were considered a fighting community. This is why this fight against discrimination continued. After giving representation, there was another issue- Poverty.

“In India, nearly everyone is hungry.”

Like we said, at the time of independence, 80% of Indians lived below the poverty line and this poverty was directly linked to one thing- land. During independence 53% of land in India was owned by only 7% of landowners.

This was because in several parts of the country, we followed a Zamindari system where many laborers did not have their own land
and they would earn a portion of the farming by farming on the lands of the zamindars

This is why land reforms were introduced in India. By 1960s, 21 Indian states had brought in land reforms. And Kerala and West Bengal, who redistributed land to a considerable extent.

There, the poor had the highest agricultural wages in the 1950s. But land reforms did not solve the problem. You have the land now, but what will you do with the land if you can’t grow crops properly? Situation was so bad during the 60s that three ships full of food grains came from US to India everyday, and all of the grains got finished within a day.

Solution came in form of a newly developed hybrid seed by an American scientist leading to the Green Revolution in India.

Due to this green revolution, lands in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh could increase their productivity. The result was that within a few years India was producing so much food grains that schools, theatres and even spare trains became storehouse of food grains. And the income level of farmers also increased.

Like in 1980, the per capita income of Punjab and Haryana was higher than the per capita income of India. Albeit, the long run impact of the Green Revolution was negative.

This is why all the farmers could not come out of their poverty via agriculture. They needed different economic activities And this happened via manufacturing.

While Japan and Korea was growing rapidly due to manufacturing, in India there was a license raj. Consider automobile industry for example. Back then, there were only 4 companies producing scooters in India: Bajaj, Lambretta, Vespa and Rajdoot.

All the four companies had to take permission from government for everything. So much so that the government dictated how many
scooters they can produce in a year. At times, people had to wait for 10 years for their scooters to be delivered.

But this changed in 1991 when PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh introduced the liberalisation policy which reduced the
control that the government exercised over our economy. This generated employment and reduced poverty drastically.

Along with manufacturing, even the IT industry in India saw considerable growth. We could make use of such opportunities
because our work force had been educated

During independence, only 12% of India’s population over the age of 7 could read and write. Today, this figure stands over 80%.

How did this jump in the literacy rates in India take place? One reason was that while as the poverty rate declined, the literacy rate also improved. But Indian government have also rolled out several policies that played an important role.

One of the most effective one was the Mid-Day Meal scheme.

Several states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh had introduced these schemes in 1950s and 1960s. But the mid day meal scheme, which was very popular in the southern states, was was made available in every state across India only in 2006. Despite, the delay, its impact was really fruitful.

This scheme helped Indian children become better at Maths and Reading And these three things played a major role in the creation of India. So did India prove these people wrong who were saying that India would get fragmented into pieces?

If they were alive, they would be shocked to know that a country like India still exists. But that does not mean we have touched the skies

In 1954 people used to live according to their castes in Karnataka. Unfortunately, we can still see this division in many Indian villages and cities

“A 22 year old man was allegedly stabbed to death in front of his father for marrying outside his caste in Hyderabad.”

An average Indian earns only around 8,000 per month. Many men and women continue to believe that having a son is more important than a having a daughter.

Most Indians think it is important to stop inter-religious marriages And violence continues unabated between communities, especially regarding religion.

Benedict Anderson in 1983 wrote that the concept of a nation is imaginary. Because if we talk about any nation, like India, most people will never meet their fellow Indians, know about each other or even hear of them but despite that, the concept of this nation will stay etched in their lives.

And India has shown that a nation is not just about race or language, but also about shared memory, stories, and heroes and India’s greatest achievement is this:
not just creating a state but building a nation.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I will posting more topics like this stay tuned!

 

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