Nation’s first Prime Minister is quoted on various occasions having made an emotional statement at the moment of its freedom from colonial rule seven decades ago. “While the world sleeps India awakes to life and freedom,” was his claim marking his famous speech. The fact that the part of the world hosting those rulers were not sleeping, it still being early evening there, as observed by an alert columnist of a widely circulated daily, is another matter. Given the unending turbulence being currently created by the land’s masses pursuing countless causes prompts one to have the nation in deep sleep rather than being awake. Now, it shall be the turn of India to be sleeping while the world is awake and watching. The euphoria of gaining independence, particularly for those who took active part in the freedom struggle, has to be found only in the pages of the nation’s history. There are all signs of the dream of building a vibrant nation getting to be only a fairy tale.
American Poet Robert Frost’s (1874-1963) lines from his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” featured on a piece of paper under the glass on Jawaharlal Nehru’s office table preserved in a museum even to this day are worth recalling: The woods are lovely, dark and deep; but I have promises to keep; And miles to go before I sleep; and miles to go before I sleep. Poets writing their lyrics in the land’s every language have showered encomiums reflecting India’s glory on all fronts (nature’s gifts as well as eminence of its people of generations past) alongside the steady decline in the land’s image as the world perceives it — saying briefly with the words miles to go.
Visualising the land and its people with the help of flattering adjectives and resorting to gross figures, namely a) India is the world’s largest democracy and b) India is among the world’s economies crossing one trillion dollars in value are surely flattering. Given the numerical rise in the country’s head count, not falling below 10 million annually, resulting in very low per capita value of both income and wealth, mainly from agriculture and industry, one cannot be blind to the current flattering societal trend. Independence and self rule offered a golden opportunity to the masses to work with zeal towards the goals stated by the then leaders.
The story of the nation’s march would certainly be like a fairy tale in real terms if only its people had elected their representatives other than the kind they have been doing now. Also, putting in place functionaries in the government irrespective of factors like caste, faith, tongue, region and proximity to seats of power. The nation, endowed with enviable assets in the form of both natural and human resources, has done creditably so far, but miles to go (before it can sleep).