The Inheritance of Independence
I have fond memories of celebrating Independence Day in school. We would apply white polish on our canvas shoes in preparation and rehearse with gusto, the chorus of patriotic songs. I have heard in rapt attention, many Prime Ministers’ addresses to the nation – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904-1966), Smt. Indira Gandhi (1917-1984) on radio and watched them every year after TV arrived in the late 1960s. Without any ideological prism, I enjoyed every Independence Day and heard the Prime Minister of the day speaking from the rampart of the iconic Red Fort, including the solo ones of Prime Minister Charan Singh (1902-1987), Vishwanath Pratap Singh (1931 -2008), H. D. Deve Gowda (b. 1933) and Inder Kumar Gujral (1919-2012).
The Nation is above political parties and leaders, whom I understand as products of their times and not as producers of their times. I saw Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri when he came to Meerut to unveil the statue of Gandhiji at Town Hall in 1964, from a distance. Through my association with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam (1931-2015), I could see from close quarters, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (1944-1991), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (b. 1932) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (b. 1950). I was awed every time in the presence of the respective Prime Ministers of India.
The nation-building of India is still a work in progress even 72 years after its independence. We are still talking about homes with toilets, electricity, cooking gas and safe drinking water supply for every family. Of course, growth has taken place – the economy has grown, development indices like infant mortality, maternal mortality, and longevity are better than ever, but there is also decay – crimes and corruption are unabated, socio-economic inequality is dividing people, farmers are distressed and big businesses are eating away small enterprises like pythons in full collusion with the state. Our state-owned banks, postal services, government-run schools and hospitals are in their last existential phase.
What kind of a nation is India going to become? I wrote a book, India 3.0: The Rise of a Billion People, which was published earlier this year. Although it did not become a bestseller like any other good book, it was read by thoughtful people and was well appreciated. The job of a writer is to read the signs of time and share them with others through his work. The five books that I co-authored with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam spanning 1999 to 2015 did precisely that. We took the pulse of the people and recorded it for posterity. I wrote a 600-page tome on Dr Kalam to preserve his work after he departed and dared to write India 3.0 solo, just to preserve his dream of India for the future generations.
Today, I want to transcend what Dr Kalam saw India become as a nation and try to see what it is actually becoming right in front of my eyes, to share the signs of my times with younger people. India is coming out of its self-imposed isolation and joining the global political order aligning with regional forces, namely China, Russia, Iran and Turkey. Whatever this development results into will be important for India. India is accepting the globalized economic order; our economy will work in the ecosystem created by Microsoft, Google, Facebook and their like. Our leaders will take their notes and brief from the Artificial Intelligence (AI) deduced trade strategies and war games articulated by global corporations.
People who are educated, healthy and open-minded will flourish, whereas people who are blindfolded to whichever ideology they chose to be blinded with, will perish. India’s destiny is to be a market of more than a billion people and a provider of intelligent, skilled and hardworking people to the global economy. Globalization of the Indian economy took place in the last twenty years, is happening now, and will only happen in the next twenty years with greater speed, depth and breath. Steve Jobs (1955-2011) famously said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Each one of us has to lead our lives, our families and our communities by making our best efforts, and India will become a better country, let there be no doubt about it.
MORE FROM THE BLOG
London is a very special place. As a city, it is splendid, and historical, and continues to be the financial hub of the modern world, though it is no more the epicenter of global order. Indians have been living in London, and most of the modern thinkers have studied in the great universities of Cambridge and Oxford…
I recently met Mr. Chandu Thota, Vice President at Google, when he was here in Hyderabad, where he studied at Osmania Engineering College. Chandu played a pioneering role in the development of digital mapping. He worked at Microsoft from 2002 to 2007 on maps and later established his own company…
Meeting people gives meaning to life. I consider myself profusely blessed to have met some of the finest people and learned from them. Chandu Thota, Vice President and Head of Engineering at Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley , is one such person whom I met rather late, but except for a wish that we could have met earlier and worked together…