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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 35

Towards New Horizons

From N.C.’s Writings

Saturday 18 August 2007

The remembrance of the day when the sun set on the British Raj in this land of ours is more than a mere ritual to be gone through year after year. No doubt it is the day when one feels proud of being a son or daughter of India, proud of having been part and parcel of that vast concourse of humanity that forced the alien ruler out and unfurled the flag of freedom over this country which used to be described even in the British-prescribed textbooks as the epitome of the world.

In the welter of crashing values and bitter frustration at the attainment of freedom having yet been unable to eliminate poverty, of petty squabbles and vast tasks still left undone, it is but natural for us to lose the perspective that beckons this great nation. Sometimes one is overwhelmed at the outbursts of insensate regionalism. At other times, one is engulfed in the stifling odour of casteism and communalism. And at yet other times, one is shocked at the sight of brute force beating down the underprivileged. Corruption stinks to high heavens and the respectable and the eminent in society are found to be indulging in it without the least iota of shame, even when they are bereft of conscience.

All these dark patches on the fair face of free India need to be emphasised on this birthday of our independence, for these stand out as an inventory of jobs yet undone. But they must not cloud our vision. The smog of deception and falsehood, of pettiness and intrigues has to disappear and the sun has to shine bright and clear. This nation of nearly seven hundred million cannot be made to forget its destiny by small-town operators or big bullies and black-money bosses.

If our political life is polluted by discredited politicians, if those who were once committed to the task of ushering in a new and equitable social order have abandoned their responsibility through folly, ignorance or mental atrophy, there need be no cause for dejection. In the life of a nation, as of an individual, there come patches of dark or grey, but they do not last long if the nation is strong in its moral fibre.

Our politicians may have proved miserably wanting, but not so our people—the millions who toil and produce the wealth of the nation. The genius of our people, the riches embedded in our soil, the calibre of the nation with its heritage that few people can claim—all these have made India great, and out of this chemistry shall come new leaders, new giants among men and women whom not only this nation but the whole world will look up to.

In the comity of nations, India has arrived. In the last few days many in the corridors of power and in the quadrangle outside, have noted the respect and deference with which the rulers of the USA, claiming to be the mightiest in the world, have treated India’s Prime Minister. Gone are the airs of a superior race, gone are the patronising attitudes. Even when they disagree with the policies and perceptions of this country, they can no longer afford to be slighting or express their annoyance. This is not because a Reagan or a Shultz or the entire American establishment have suddenly changed their views. The simple truth is, they can no longer ignore or bypass this great country.

This episode is a symptom of the new times which we are about to enter. We have to cast away the mentality of a camp-follower. For we, on our own, have to stand up and survey the world.

History has seen great epochs of nations and also their decline. It is time to discern new signs, new signals. Great empires have collapsed, and now we are to witness, in the years to come, the decline of the mightiest among the existing powers. Those who are dismissed as lumpens of the world and lumped in disdain as the Third World have become wide awake.

In the epoch about to open up, the Third World is destined to come up to the stage, and at the centre of that stage is the place for India, the most mature in experience and expertise, and at its command a sufficient level of development to establish its position in the company of peers of strength and vitality.

To attain this position in the world of tomorrow, India has not only to set its own house in order but to develop a new culture that helps to eliminate the sources of conflict, in which the millions of have-nots have to get their due place and power, and which will enable its sons and daughters to conquer new horizons of science and technology, to make our beautiful land a better place to live in.

On this Fifteenth of August, let the nation dedicate itself to such a movement of regeneration.
(Mainstream, August 14, 1982)

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