Reflections at 60

Akrita Reyar At 60 in India, you become a senior citizen. India, the nation, on the contrary is brimming with youth and enthusiasm six decades after attaining independence from the British Raj. Far from aging, these are years of unleashing her untapped potential.

By Akrita Reyar | Last Updated: Sep 24, 2014, 16:17 PM IST

Akrita Reyar

At 60 in India, you become a senior citizen. India, the nation, on the contrary is brimming with youth and enthusiasm six decades after attaining independence from the British Raj. Far from aging, these are years of unleashing her untapped potential. The large pool of skilled youth, the opening up of the markets, the confidence of Indian businesses(as they set up new ventures in India and tango with big names on foreign shores), the Indian has never been this confident. But then that’s the rosy side. The threats have also never been bigger. We carry on our shoulders the burden of history. Birth of a truncated nation has left behind festering wounds, physical and psychological. The enemy without wants to bleed us through a thousand cuts, while the enemy within leaves us vulnerable in the gut. One can secure the borders of a nation or patrol its coastline but what about the danger from our own. Extremism and the Naxal movement have today become the greatest obstacles on our path of development. Not that we have not dealt with tumultuous times before. The trauma of partition, the vagaries of nature that pounded people and property, the wars with China and Pakistan, the teeming Bangladeshi refugees and illegal immigrants. Then there was the Emergency and Blue Star and political assassinations. The list is endless. More recently the demolition of the Babri mosque, the subsequent Mumbai blasts and riots. And then the gruesome Gujarat carnage. Our most sacred places of worship have borne the brunt of terrorism, as also the heart of our democracy – our Parliament. There have been states that have been restless. Like Punjab, J&K and the North East. But then there has also been recovery. A more dangerous but perhaps a slightly under-rated threat has been of moral degradation. So rampant is corruption that it is like a termite threatening to leave our roots hollow. At a social level, the gap between castes was slowly bridging. But then Mandal happened. Reservation today has become a nodal point of debate, discontent and discord. Each community wants a share of the pie and is willing to adopt violent methods to make you see the point. Far from wanting to defuse the issue, political parties are only adding fuel to the fire. Then there has been the unbridled growth of population with scores facing stark poverty. Because of lack of opportunities in rural areas and smaller towns, we have a case of bulging metros and creaking infrastructure. Limited jobs in the cities lead to spiralling crime rates. Huge amounts of energy and time have been spent on tackling these problems thereby diverting precious resources from productive activities. The picture is gloomy thus far. But there has been growth any how. There are some excellent institutes of education, robust industrial and service sector growth. Outsourcing and BPOs have put more disposable income in the hands of the youth. We have become the IT hub of the world. Post the mobile revolution, India will never be same again. We can send up our own missiles and may end up putting a man on the moon. A quick check and balance therefore leaves one with mixed feelings. Perhaps, this kind of dilemma has always been India’s destiny. Also one wonders, can a civilization as old as ours be assessed as a nation in just 60 years? Perhaps these years are just reflection of the life of this country. Upheaval and hope have always been intertwined in our existence. At the end our resilience has won. The dynamics of diversity and the long winding past have had both a positive and negative effect. The Right wing in any community always wants it “my way”, while our ethos, culture, our very existence and identity as people has always accommodated “our way”. When there is a space for all and a broader vision overcomes narrow differences. When life is a blessing for higher goals, when we are grounded in roots yet open to ideas. When our acceptance of anything decent, progressive and good, actually becomes a part of us. Till the time the average Indian, whether living in a city or the countryside, believes in this, being Indian will be a celebration. And 60, just another milestone.