The value of freedom can’t be assessed

Indians around the world will mark the independence of their motherland on August 15.

Festivities would include flag hoisting, rendition of patriotic songs, cultural programmes, ‘at home’ parties and much more.

We have carried a few reports of the events held in Auckland in this issue.

Notwithstanding the oft-repeated criticism that successive federal governments have failed to address the real issues and lift the teeming millions from their subsistence levels, the progress achieved by independent India is not only commendable but also in many cases inimitable.

A few Western diplomats have told this writer if India had the same population as the US, it would have risen far above the wealthiest nation on earth and become the destination for migrants from all parts of the world.

With its vast natural resources and inherent talent, the country would have had the potential to outgrow any nation on earth.

Despite political intransigence between various groups, natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other forms of disturbance, democracy has grown to become an institution in the country and proudly the country’s tryst with self-government and government of the people, by the people and for the people has been successful.

True to the tenet of independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s philosophy of ‘industrialise or perish,’ the economy features an array of manufacturing enterprises, adding value to its Gross National Product.

The country today produces almost everything-from apples to aircraft and from vegetables to vaccines.

With foreign exchange reserves in excess of US$ 290 billion, India today is a respectable member of the international financial community.

Compared to the performance of the world economy, India is in a better position to order a stable and growing economy.

The country’s software exports continue to peak, while its textiles, steel, food products, medical supplies and most important of all, human resources are in demand all over the world.

But a number of issues dog the economy.

A majority of the teeming millions live below the poverty line, literary rates keep dipping and the progress achieved in the industrial and IT sectors are yet to percolate to the rural sector, where the heart of India rests.

And the population growth show alarming statistics and according to estimates, India will become the most populous nation on earth in less than 20 years.

These are some of the challenges that would face any government.

The sooner they are addressed the better.

For, India cannot afford to have a parade of inert events for long and cannot afford to have negative factors erode its impressive growth.

India’s penchant for a say in global and regional politics should be seen against the changing scenario across the world.

Asia will hold the key to the future and what happens in the world’s largest continent will undoubtedly exercise its influence elsewhere.

While India has traditionally been following a policy of Non-Alignment dictated by non-interference in the affairs of other countries, it has silently set itself as an example. The country is known, not for nothing, as the world’s largest democracy. Despite political turmoil from time to time, riots based on religion or social division and other factors that foster tension, India has practiced principles of democracy like no one else has.

An argument in favour of India’s role as a world power should include its nuclear and space technology, since it has the ability to launch not just satellites, but also missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

The world power status is fortified by progress in a number of other fronts, notably the burgeoning service sector.

If Asia is the future of the world, India would be its leader.

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