Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Economic Independence

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance..... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.”

This is a part of the speech delivered by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at the stroke of midnight on 15th August 1947 when India became an independent nation. And today we are an independent nation for over 60 years. But I still wonder if we can really call India independent! It is estimated that 20% of the population is below the poverty line and we call ourself independent. What are we independent of? Ignorance, poverty, superstitions, illiteracy, ethnic clashes, religious riots and the list goes on and on. Yes, we are independent of slavery, torture and injustice from the clutches of our imperialistic rulers. But does that mean we are completely independent. May be we should start celebrating August 15th as the day on which India became Politically Independent and that reminds us of the fact that we are yet to achieve Economic Independence. Gheorghe Elian, in his book "The Principle of Sovereignty Over Natural Resources", rightly says "One can hardly speak of a State's complete independence without its achieving economic independence, after freeing itself from political dependency." Political independence without economic independence can in no way free the teeming millions of the developing world from the poverty trap they are in.

is in a way lucky as he knew what or whom he should fight to achieve a politically independent country. But now we have many to fight against, and some are so trivial that we tend to neglect them even though they matter a lot. According to a recent report by UNESCO India has the highest rate of teacher absenteeism. As a consequence, we have failed to meet universal elementary education targets and we have the largest number of illiterates for any country. Need I say anything about corruption which is prevalent amongst every section of the society at every level. And we talk about independence in this nation where one third of its population earn less than Twenty Rupees a day. Being a part of independent nation, what do they have to celebrate?

We are independent in true sense only when we are economically free, only when no Indian goes to sleep hungry; only when every Indian can lead a life of dignity free from poverty, ignorance, and ill- health