August 15, 2008

Wrote this years ago, on an independence day long gone

“What is here is nowhere else, what is nowhere else is found here” declares the Mahabharata. And it is so true, this ancient wisdom of our sages. This is the specialty of the great nation that we live in and that is the reason for our culture being so prominent.

On the day of Independence day, it is for us to acknowledge this fact and derive immense pride from it. From the high mountains of the north to the deserts of the Thar to beautiful beaches in the Andamans, India as a nation consists of many bounties of nature. Culturally, we have diverse people whether they be the agricultural Punjabis or forest dwelling tribes.

As citizens of the nation, we often overlook the vastness of our country and tend to concentrate only at its shortcomings. But now, as we enter the new century, we must make an effort to understand the reasons for India’s success story.

India is set to be an important nation in the coming decades for several reasons. The primary reason is its deep rooted culture that teaches us to be humble and tolerant of others. We still touch our elder’s feet and ask for their blessings, we also care for our environment as if it belongs to us. This nature of Indians, inspite of the assault by western ideas, makes us uniquely Indian. And as doomsday theorists had predicted that Indians would lose their unique Indian feature, this has not happened.

What makes us an Indian? Is it our land or our food or is it our diversity. The truth is that all of it is true for we are Indians first and everything else later. While meeting a tourist in Rome or Melbourne, his first comment is always that he is from India and then when prodded deeper, do they say that they are from so and so state. This consciousness helps us in maintaining our identity.

Infact, after independence till the 1960’s, several leading figures from across the world had predicted that India would be a failed state by the 60’s and they postponed it till the 1970’s and then till the 80’s. It is very grudgingly that they now admit that India is not merely a conglomeration of states but one that is bonded together through various strands of mutual respect, religion and language. This makes India unique.

However, it is for us to acknowledge that India became independent due to the efforts of hundreds of thousands of brave patriots, many of whom gave their lives in their dream to see an independent India. These freedom fighters, beginning from the 18th century fought against the might of British empire and never gave up. They were beaten, tortured, even bribed but they stood by their dream to see an independent India and their dream came true more than 60 years ago.

This dream was to see an India which is a modern and just nation, where all can live together in peace and where the Indian values are upheld. They lived hard and died brave to see this dream come true. Many of them never lived to see a free India but today, we all do. We live in a free India, an India that is being wooed by all because they see great potential in the nation. We live in an India that is free, that is the software capital of the world, which is a strong knowledge economy, whose gross domestic product is growing by leaps and most importantly, that which has a strong and thriving population of able bodied and creative youth. Almost a quarter of the nation is young and this is our greatest strength.

India is still growing and we have not succeeded on all fronts. Infact, our greatest faults have been aspects of corruption, inadequate action against corruption, growing environmental degradation and many more. However, these are sins of the past generation and the modern youth can work towards the betterment of society without the baggage of these errors. They have the opportunity of transforming India into a modern progressive society and hopefully it can be done in a single generation. What would be of consequence is the fact that the youth must be empowered to take things into their own hands and do it without fear of expectations. They must be the ones leading the nation into an environmentally secure modern India.

August 2, 2008

To Leh Today...

Of all the places, I have been keen to visit.. Leh surely counts amongst the top few chosen ones. And after years of trying, of managing to reach Keylang once, of using all friendships in the forces to enable me to get there and failing most often, I am leaving for Ladakh today and in style.

We are going as a team to formulate an ecotourism management plan for parts of Ladakh for the J&K government and will be going to the more remote and off the beaten tracks such as Pangong lake, Hemis national park, the changtang plateau and Tso moriri lake.....

A 10 day trip for which I am thankful to certain people, without whom even this trip would not have been possible.

So, will write back from Leh or better still, from Changtang... Juley

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