“At our core we are a just, spiritual and peace-loving people. We are the children of Buddha and Ashoka, Ambedkar and Gandhi, Thiruvalluvar and Periyar” – Kamal Haasan.

Kamal Haasan

(Kamal Haasan is an actor-turned politician and founder, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM)

Our nation, a mosaic of religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural plurality, celebrates its modern rebirth today. This journey has been filled with love and hate, pain and joy, and highs and lows. And yet we march on. Our tryst with destiny continues.
In 1947, the western world gave only a little chance for India to survive as a democracy. How would India feed itself? How would a country so diverse remain integrated? How would a largely illiterate population function as a democracy?

The East is awakening

What the West failed to realise then was a reawakening of a civilisation with a cultural history that dates back millennia. In the 21st century, as western civilisations decline, an epoch is fading. And in its place the civilisations of the east, finally unshackled from the chains of bondage, are awakening.

The journey of modern India has not been without its ebbs and flows. What the West considered our Achilles heel, i.e., our diversity, has proven to be India’s greatest strength. South and west India became the manufacturing hubs of the country, the east its resource repository, and the north its bread basket.

The founding fathers of our republic had the foresight to establish a constitutional scheme which harnessed the power of our diversity. Secularism, federalism, universal franchise, and the freedom of speech and religion created a spirit of fairness and justice that accommodated our linguistic, regional, religious divides under the rule of law.

Consequently, India engineered the green and white revolutions. We reached the stars and split the atom. We fought wars for moral reasons. Our Constitution continues to endure.

Hurdles to overcome

There have been stumbles along the way. Communal majoritarianism has reared its ugly head time and again. We continue to pay the toll for our original sin — the caste system and its poisonous inequities. While great strides have been made since Independence to achieve political, social and economic freedom, true social and economic equality eludes us.

Extreme poverty and a social marginalisation of minorities persist. The potential of the daughters of India remains trapped in the absence of a gender-equal society. The north-east remains distant from our hearts and minds and must be integrated to the mainland in spirit. Attempts to homogenise the Indian identity are gaining ground.

But my faith in our ability as a people to overcome these challenges remains steadfast, because at our core we are a just, spiritual and peace-loving people. We are the children of Buddha and Ashoka, Ambedkar and Gandhi, Thiruvalluvar and Periyar.

Democracy and freedom require constant vigil. If and when state power becomes tyrannical, every Indian must possess the courage and will to rise.

Our non-violent freedom movement brought down a racist colonial empire by unleashing the innate power that resides in the masses. The Indian polity must always imbibe its national consciousness and spirit with equality, justice and fairness towards each other. We owe this to our forefathers who made the ultimate sacrifice to achieve Independence.

Today, as technological advancements usher in knowledge democratisation, we can finally fulfil Bapu’s dream of achieving Village Swaraj. Imagine the day when every village is self-sustaining, state institutions and infrastructure are capable of unleashing the potential of our demographic dividend, and Indian culture dominates the global zeitgeist.

The India of my dreams

I dream of an India where no child is born in poverty or goes to sleep hungry. I dream of an India whose universities such as Nalanda are the intellectual centres of the world again. I dream of an India whose cultural, spiritual and economic prowess reignites a race from the West to reach its shores.

Come brothers and sisters, let us make this dream a reality. I bow my head to this land and its people.

A fellow Indian.

Courtesy:The Hindu