Independent, are we?


When the country became independent in the midnight of August 14, 1947, the Father of the Nation was on a fast.  The Mahatma had looked forward to an India whose people would be liberated not just from political bondages but also from social and moral ones.  But what he got was an India where people were killing one another in the name of something that they never understood and would never understand for decades to come: religion.

Did India really become independent?  Not then, nor now. In spite of the economic progress that is much vaunted in many circles. 

Economically India has come a long way from 1947 when poverty was the hallmark of the nation.  Yet –

According to S Ramachandran Pillai –  vice president of the Trade Union International, president of All India Kisan Sabha and former Member of Parliament – 840 million Indians spend less than half a dollar a day now [Frontline, 29 July 2011].  Who is benefited, then, by the tremendous economic growth of India?

The number of billionaires rose from 9 in 2004 to 49 in 2008.  The assets of the ten largest corporates tripled between 2004 and 2008.  In other words, the wealth of a few individuals pole-vaulted.

220,000 agricultural workers committed suicide in India between 1997 and 2008.  Today every half an hour a farmer commits suicide somewhere in India.  If 22 percent of the Indian population were landless peasant families in the beginning of the 1990s, now after our experiments with globalisation 41 percent of our population are landless peasant families. 

But there is no dearth of land for real estate developers.  There is no dearth of bank loans for flats or villas.  There is no dearth of SMSes that fill the inbox of your mobile phone coaxing you to add yet another flat to your existing assets. 

There are two Indias.  The one which ranks 66th in a list of 88 countries in global hunger index.  The other, the India that is not reportedly affected by the economic recession that is driving people out of their homes in the erstwhile wealthy nations of the West.  Reportedly – the Indian reports are for and about the middle and upper classes only.  The other India does not exist in reports.

Is India really independent? 

I spent fifteen years of my life (how foolish I was to waste that many years of my youth!)  in the capital town of a North-eastern state.  They, the people of the North-east, celebrated the Independence Day with a hartal.  This Independence Day won’t be different either.  About a dozen militant outfits in the various states of the North-east have called for hartal this time too.  Most of these outfits don’t know what they want exactly.  But they love hartals.  That’s a third India, an India that does not know what it wants, what it is capable of wanting.

The Mahatma was obviously asking for far too much when he demanded moral independence, if not spiritual independence. 

Now we have pathetic caricatures of the Mahatma and comic parodies of his messages parading themselves in public places, on television sets and in the corridors of power.

Nevertheless, we are independent





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7 Responses to Independent, are we?

  1. Sid says:

    Sir, the same Mahatma foresighted as way back as in 1931 in London at the Second Round Table conference that after independence the people of India would be eventually subjected to –
    1. Tyranny of the rich
    2. Undeclared Emergency
    3. Burden of administration

    And correctly implied that India is not yet ready for a state of absolute independence. I guess that makes sense now !

  2. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    Matheikal, the thrid India, the one that does not know what it wants, dominates the other too. Out of the two others, one knows it wants money but also knows there is not much chance of that. This is the suiciding poor. The other one knows it wants more money but also knows it can get it only by denying its own humanity. The land grabbers and the rent seekers.

    This is precisely the result of my triage.

    Raghuram Ekambaram

  3. dawnanddew says:

    That is indeed a grim reality that we don’t know the worth of freedom rather than what is independence. Perhaps we knew it before the two dominions became free.

  4. Anirudh Kashyap says:

    YOU ARE RIGHT SIR!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Lalit says:

    None of us are independent. If we were, than why iron lady of manipur, Irom Sharmila, had to fast for humanity in her own country. The law is alike martial law during British rule in India, anyone suspicious can be arrested or shot. They just want to live freely in their homes and their places and move freely, breathe freely their air. But who cares. Govt. is busy in filling their pockets, though lokpal would come, no guarantee is there it would finish corruption. And if it finish, they can bring new ideas for making jackpot.

    • matheikal says:

      You are absolutely right, Lalit. The politician will RULE till the end. No Bill will ever contain his/her corruption. Today’s newspaper reports about the doubling of the Delhi MLAs’ salaries. They will now get about one lakh rupees per month. Of course, all the additional ‘benefits’ (you know what I mean) will double or triple or quadruple or… That’s politics. The common man is asked to tighten his belt because there is inflation and economic recession. But the politician is asked to buy a bigger purse!

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