As India completed 67 years of its independence on August 15, 2014, it is time to reflect on what the nation has achieved in this period. One can reel out dozens, possibly scores, of achievements but then these have to be special, unique and extremely select. Five should be a good number and a challenge!
So, here we go!
If the question were to be regarding achievements of India as a nation since the Indian civilization began millennia ago, there is no doubt that India has been a world leader in diverse fields, not just spiritualism.
India invented the decimal and the Number system millennia ago. Zero was invented by the Indian prodigy in astronomy and mathematics, Aryabhatta (476-550 CE). Great Britain’s oldest university, Oxford, came into existence only in the year 1167. India’s Takshashila University was the world’s first which was established in 700 BC wherein more than 10,500 students from all over the world pursued higher studies in more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda, built in the 4th century BC, is another feather in the Indian cap. It’s a pity that for various socio-political reasons the two ancient Indian universities could not sustain, while Oxford University continues its glorious run uninterruptedly.
The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, who actually is the father of the concept known to the modern world as the Pythagorean Theorem. Budhayan flourished in the 6th century, long before the European mathematicians dominated the world stage.
India is the birth place of algebra, trigonometry and calculus. It was a thousand years ago when Sridharacharya used numbers as big as 1053 while the largest numbers in the world then, used by the Greeks and the Romans, were 106.
But then this is the past. What about the present: the contemporary India? The five top most achievements of the independent India, according to me, are as follows.
1. Maintaining its unity and integrity:
This is the most important achievement of India since independence because India has survived its modern map despite diverse challenges, despite an over a quarter century-long proxy war from across the borders and stiff terrorism-related challenges on domestic and foreign fronts. More importantly, despite such challenges India’s secular fabric and its amazing unity in diversity have remained intact.
2. India’s vibrant democracy:
India has remained an island of democracy amid a vast ocean of autocratic rules in the neighbourhood. India has been a pulsating, throbbing democracy and has emerged as the largest democracy in the world. Right from the days of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, when the two topmost Indian leaders often differed drastically from each other on core issues, to the contemporary times of Anna Hazare, India has continued on the democratic path. Whenever a general election has thrown out a government, the new dispensation has taken over. Peacefully. Many a times. This is India’s victory!
3. The aam aadmi (common man)-specific programs:
Few other countries in the world would have taken up such programs and implemented these with such gusto as India has. The list is long, but on top of the chart would be the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sarak Yojana, Right to Information (RTI), Right to Education (RTE) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). India’s most ambitious developmental project perhaps, the Right to Food is in the pipeline. This would inevitably pave the way for Right to Medicare and Right to Shelter and many more other rights that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution but have not yet been delivered.
4. India’s space program:
India’s modest efforts to conquer the space that began in 1975 with the successful launch of its first satellite Aryabhatta in 1975 have now come of age. Today, India is among the select few space powers in the world to launch foreign satellites and eye a big chunk of the $ 200 billion commercial rocket launch industry. India has sewn up space agreements with over 20 countries. More importantly, it is now preparing for its Mars Mission in December 2013. It is no mean achievement for a country that was finding it difficult to feed its own people till it successfully embarked on a Green Revolution nearly half a century ago, is now aiming literally for the stars!
5. The nuclear and missile programs:
No other programs have beefed up India’s defence and forced the world to acknowledge India’s strides in the field of defence and science and technology as these two. In fact the Point number 5 in this list is a supplementary to the point number 1. India’s prowess in the field of missile technology is a strong deterrent for the enemies. The nuclear program and the missile program form an integral part of this. India has been running the two programs simultaneously and successfully. India’s missile program is spearheaded by such missile systems as the Agni, Prithvi, Akash and Nag. BrahMos, the world’s fastest Cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia, is the newest addition to the Indian missile bouquet.
These, in my view, are top five achievements of India since independence. India’s Herculean efforts in combating poverty, illiteracy and unemployment do not find a mention in this list, though they are covered in point number three. This is largely because India as a nation was expected to fare better than it has thus far. This leads us to the five top failures of India in the past 65 years. Perhaps we can call them “challenges”, instead of “failures” because these are, and have to be, the templates for any government that comes to power in the next few decades. The five “challenges” are: (i) corruption, (ii) population explosion, (iii) poverty, (iv) illiteracy, and (v) unemployment. If India wants to become a global superpower, then these challenges have to be met. India has the required resources, given its very high percentage of young population. It is up to the leaders to deliver and also up to the people as to what kind of leaders they choose to ensure early deliverance.
– Rajeev Sharma