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Independence. The etymology of the word is revealing. It is derived from the medieval French word “dependre”, which means “hanging on”, with the Latin prefix “in” meaning “not”. So the whole word has come to mean “not to hang on.” It is worth describing how India liberated itself from the 200-year-old British colonial yoke, which had pushed the country into an extreme state of dependence and subjugation.

Independence. The etymology of the word is revealing. It is derived from the medieval French word “dependre”, which means “hanging on”, with the Latin prefix “in” meaning “not”. So the whole word has come to mean “not to hang on.” It is worth describing how India liberated itself from the 200-year-old British colonial yoke, which had pushed the country into an extreme state of dependence and subjugation.

Nehru delivers the historic speech in Parliament on the eve of August 15, 1947, at midnight; (Photo: Getty Images)

When the East India Company dominated the subcontinent around 1750, India’s economy accounted for 24.5% of global manufacturing output and that of the United Kingdom only 1.9%. In another century and a half the British economy, through the exploitation of India’s vast resources, has come to account for 18.5% of the world’s share and that of India has shrunk to 1, 7%. So, with my apologies to Jawaharlal Nehru, at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, while the world was asleep, India awoke not only to life and freedom, but as one of the poorest in the world. Having missed out on the Industrial Revolution, agriculture remained the country’s primary vocation, and the goal of the country’s rulers during the early decades remained to lift people out of the quagmire of hunger, disease and deprivation.

The Constitution of India, which was adopted two years later, in its preamble laid down four guiding principles which the new sovereign democratic republic resolved to guarantee to the citizens of the nation. Justice, social, economic and political; Freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equal status and opportunity; and Brotherhood, ensuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. As India completes 75 years of independence, these can serve as good barometers to gauge what the nation has achieved.

India is still a vibrant democracy, having held 17 general elections. But it also needs reform, to curb defections, and for simultaneous general and national elections.

Take democracy. India has had 17 general elections, with only one aberration when then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared an emergency and postponed the elections which were due to be held in March 1976. She paid a heavy price for this dark misadventure since his party lost the Lok Sabha election. held in March 1977 to inaugurate India’s first non-congress government at the Centre. There have been 352 assembly elections and several hundred ballots for local bodies as well. For the most part, the credibility and independence of the Election Commission of India was appreciated. India is today not only the largest democracy in the world, but also perhaps the most vibrant. But it also urgently needs reform, in particular provisions that can make defections from political parties more difficult, guaranteeing common electoral lists for the ballots of assemblies and local bodies and preferably organizing simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and assemblies to improve governance efficiency and reduce campaign expenses.

With regard to economic freedom after independence, however, state charity proved to be a drawback. While Nehru, as India’s first prime minister, was widely recognized as a visionary and institution builder, his socialist underpinnings led him to rely primarily on government resources to fuel economic growth. He did not trust the private sector and set up giant public sector companies to build what he called the temples of modern India. The emphasis on self-reliance has seen the emergence of tariff barriers to protect ‘infant’ industries. With the scars of colonialism still fresh, a deep distrust of multinational corporations was a default setting. Nehru’s naïveté was evident in 1962 when his faith in China and unpreparedness in defense saw India suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of the communist country.

His daughter Indira Gandhi, when she became Prime Minister in 1966, chose to take socialism to even greater heights by nationalizing the banks and restricting private participation in basic sectors. She would win plaudits for ushering in the Green Revolution, which gave India self-sufficiency in food grains and also for winning a decisive victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, in addition to carrying out the first India’s nuclear test in 1974. But its inability to manage JP’s Sampoorna Kranti and the fall into dictatorship stripped it of all luster, despite the many plans for the welfare of the poor during his tenure, including the slogan catchy “Garibi Hatao”. It was Rajiv Gandhi who, after becoming Prime Minister following the assassination of his mother in 1984, brought new thinking and a modern vision of governance.

Yet it was the coalition government of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and his finance minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, that would usher in the economic reforms of 1991. Putting an end to License Raj, they unleashed the animal spirits of private entrepreneurs. India’s GDP growth has since increased tenfold and now stands at $3 trillion. Per capita income has soared to Rs 1.28 lakh, the stock market has hit record middle class returns and the boom in the IT sector continues. AB Vajpayee as Prime Minister would continue the reform process by opening up the telecom sector to private players and usher in a revolution whose impact lingers.

However, it was during Manmohan Singh’s first term as Prime Minister that the economy really boomed and allowed the government to invest heavily in social welfare measures, including launching the massive National Guarantee Program of rural employment Mahatma Gandhi. The result was the biggest drop in poverty in decades, with more than 250 million Indians lifted out of the condition during his 10-year reign. When Narendra Modi took office as Prime Minister in 2014, he pursued this welfarism with renewed zeal and at a breakneck pace, launching new programs for the poor, to build toilets, provide running water to every household , build housing for the needy. and subsidizing LPG cylinders for cooking. Simultaneously, the Prime Minister took steps to reform the financial sector, with measures such as the Goods and Services Tax and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to address the twin balance sheet crises. His tenure also saw a major push towards privatization, with the sale of Air India to Tatas becoming a symbol of that business.

Indeed, India has come a long way in its development ambitions over these 75 years. On the one hand, we are completely self-sufficient in food grains, although we lag behind in the production of pulses and edible oils, which requires imports. Most Indians finally have the bare necessities like water, toilets, electricity and road connectivity. Poverty has decreased significantly and life expectancy has increased to 72 years. Yet there is also a long way to go. Especially when it comes to freedom of expression. If a simple tweet can land you in jail, it says a lot about the insecurity and intolerance of power dispensations. The state has over the years, under the pretext of protecting national security interests, strengthened its repressive powers and shamelessly abused them. This, while it is incumbent on the Center and the States not to trample on the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.

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In his Independence Day speech this year, Prime Minister Modi laid out the “Paanch Prans” or five goals to be achieved over the next 25 years. The most important of these was to be a “Vikasit Bharat” or a developed country by the time India turns 100 in 2047. To achieve this goal faster, governments must learn from past mistakes, especially not to fully exploit India’s potential and genius. entrepreneurship. Policymakers must take all necessary steps to ensure that the private sector benefits from a level playing field and is spared unnecessary regulation and arbitrary taxation. We must not fall back into the trap of protecting domestic industry in the name of Swadeshi. This will breed inefficiency and make it uncompetitive. Public sector companies should only be encouraged in areas where they ensure the best use of resources: this should be their litmus test. India must strive to become globally competitive and leverage value chains to boost exports. To become a Vikasit Bharat, experts estimate that per capita income must grow by an average of 12% over the next 25 years. This will allow India to catch up with the advanced countries. It is a daunting task, but not impossible. We must renew our appointment with fate without delay.