Every year, Independence Day has represented one or the other challenge before India, beginning 15 August, 1947. Whether it was the aftermath of Partition that involved blood shedding on a sub-continental scale, or the events that led to Kashmir’s accession, or the Indo-China war, the conflicts with Pakistan, the struggle to become self-reliant in the agriculture and industrial sectors, Naxalism, the Khalistan movement, Tamil separatism, etc., right up to the present day. Seventy-two years is a short time for a nation attempting to enter the modern world from the detritus of, at least, five thousand years. India is, of course, a political entity that emerged from the colonial remains of the British Empire, but it also represents an ancient civilisation. Politics of a certain kind would like to make a distinction between the two, particularly on communal lines. The syncretic vision that philosophers, politicians, scholars and ideologues have tried to create has involved a lot of make believe in the attempt to accommodate the wrongs of history in differing perspectives. As a democracy, India has over time strengthened certain some beliefs and rejected others. It can be said that there is much sincerity in everybody’s efforts, but the role of conscious and unconscious negativity and prejudice cannot be denied. But, without opposition, the determination to achieve the desired goals would never reach the necessary criticality. Once again, in 2019, India stands on another cusp of change as it prepares to take the next steps in self-discovery. Be it politics or economics, consolidation and competition are becoming a larger part of the narrative. It is a tightrope that has to be walked as individuals with personal baggage and as interest groups of various kinds. As consumers, we want cheaper and better goods, while as employees and employers, the focus may be on job security and profit, respectively. Religious belief may lead in one direction, while the future of one’s offspring could be in another. The skills necessary for reconciling all this are best learned as democratic components of the nation-state. As the Supreme Court has recently said, the necessary trust must be reposed in the process. One needs only to look around the world to see the devastating consequences of undermining democracy in the pursuit of short- sighted and personal interests. The will of the people is enshrined in, both, the permanent and impermanent. Otherwise, why have a Parliament when the Constitution already exists? Democracy today is the highest pinnacle of human effort, it would be dangerous to settle for anything less.
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