Today is India’s 73rd independence day. I will be 75 in 2 weeks. So my life spans independent India’s life.
India is unbelievingly diverse. As a matter of fact it is an amalgmation of amost 30 sub-nationalities. It has 30 major languages. It is roughly 80% Hindu, 15% Muslim and remaining being Sikhs, Christians and other sundry religions. Neither Hindu nor Muslim polulation is homogeneous.
It has several complex layers of histories. Most recent being the British rule for almost 200 years. It was preceded by Muslim rule for almost 800 years. Northwest India was ruled by Sikhs for almost 100 years while central India was ruled by Marathas for almost 100 years.
It has developed a unique syncretic culture which is a mixture of all these components. An India without British and Muslim influence would look like Nepal; and one without British and Hindu influence would look like Afghanistan. British provided a pan-India standardization of sort with English language and British common law. I have travelled widely in India and have felt at home almost everywhere, even where I did not understand local language or was not able to read any signs.
Britain had been a rapacious imperial power and had left India bone poor at the time of indepenedence, with its share of the global GDP less 1%, thought it had almost 16% of world’s population. Literacy rate was about 10%.
Inspite of all that India chose to be a democracy with universal sufferage. Almost nobody gave it a chance to stay free and democratic. It was called a functioning anarchy by US Ambassador Kenneth Galbraith.
India has surprized everybody by becoming a cohesive, well-functioning nation with a unique and vibrant culture. It has brought literacy rate to well over 80% and its share of the world GDP is 2.5% now. It is well on its way to become a power to reckon with.
In every respect India is a noble experiment. It has striven to process its diversity as positively as can be imagined. It has stumbled a couple of times but has always gotten back on its feet. Other multinational countries like Yogoslavia and Soviet Union were not able to integrate their diveristy politically and fell apart.




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