Saturday, August 15, 2015

Irfan Engineer's reflections on the Independence Day of India

India celebrates her 68th year of independence from the Great Britain today. Much has changed during the last 68 years. The very people that opposed India's secular character and instead were all for Hinduization of India with Hindutvadi agenda are now in power. Hindutvadi forces, the very forces that conspired and killed MK Gandhi, India's symbol of independence, are now in power. 

The lives of hundreds of millions of non-Hindus have not become any better. Not only do they face discrimination in every sector but they are also increasingly viewed as unwanted folks in India. Thus, there has not been any improvement in terms of jobs and education for many of those disadvantaged religious groups. Many non-Hindus cannot find jobs in corporate India simply because of their names and religion. 

These are difficult for many Indians and other admirers to believe given all the fuss surrounding modern India where in spite of all such flaws India continues to be perceived as a global power and a success story where all religious groups are living peacefully. Even Narendra Modi's (BJP) overtly Hindutvadi agenda that are an anathema to everything secular in this country of many religions, castes and creeds are conveniently ignored giving him and his government the benefit of the doubt. Such an attitude even helps to bolster his regime and power base. Much to Modi's delight, with falling economy in China, India has now become the investment hub in our world. 

Well, how does an Indian feel about Indian independence? 

Here below is a brief reflection from Irfan Engineer who is attached with the Indian Secular Forum. In the Secular Perspectives, he writes:

Three scores and eight years after we became independent, we haven’t yet met our tryst with destiny.

Farmers are forced to commit suicide as our agriculture is in crisis.

We built modern temples but the benefits of the modern temples reached only the elite.

The richest 1% of Indians own 50% of wealth of the country while 80% of Indians earn less than two dollars a day and millions of children sleep hungry.

While we built elite educational institutions like AIIMS, IITs and IIMs, 26% of Indians are still illiterate, less than 7% are graduates and only about 22% matriculate and above.

The largest killer disease in India is dysentery which is curable, pointing to our poor health infrastructure no accessibility to health facilities for poor.

38.5% Indians live in one room with large families – cooking, eating and sleeping in the same room with no privacy to women in the family.

Communal and terrorist violence takes toll of scores of lives every year and perpetrators of communal violence are hardly brought to justice.

Justice is not yet fully free from class, caste, gender, communal, ethnic and linguistic prejudices.

Crony capitalism is corroding our society.

Our tryst with destiny was to build India wherein there would be justice – social, economic and political for all Indians; liberty of thought, beliefs and expression; equality of opportunity and status; fraternity among all Indian and dignity for all Indians.

Let us resolve this Independence day to strive to build a democratic and inclusive India.

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