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India at 75, looking back and forward

Here are some of India’s most significant achievements after 75 years of independence: 

Environmental Revolution

M.S. Swaminathan was a key figure in India’s Green Revolution. Beginning in the mid-20th century, the introduction of new, high-yielding varieties of seeds into developing countries resulted in a significant increase in food grain production (particularly wheat and rice). 

The Green Revolution, which lasted from 1967-68 to 1977-78, transformed India from a food-deficient country to one of the world’s leading agricultural nations.

White Revolution. 

Verghese Kurien, too, had a dream. In India, Verghese Kurien, a social entrepreneur known as the “Father of the White Revolution” in India, established the country’s largest self-sustaining business and rural employment sector. Dairy farming now generates one-third of total rural revenue. 

In I too had a Dream (2005), the author of Kurien’s memoirs, explains how farmers were able to transport pasteurised milk from Anand to the Bombay Milk Scheme via railways. Kurien joined forces with Tribhuvandas Patel, the founder of the Kaira dairy movement, to form Anand Milk Producers Union Limited (AMPUL), later known as Amul.

Space and Technology

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was established in 1969, revitalising space research. In 1975, India launched its first space satellite, “Aryabhata.” Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian in space in 1986, and the Make in India initiative today produces the best indigenous technology-based launch vehicles. In 2008, India used PSLV-C9 to launch ten satellites into orbit, setting a new world record. After successfully launching satellites such as Chandrayaan to the moon, India became the first country to reach Mars on our first attempt as a result of Mangalyaan.

India reached 200 crore Covid-19 jab milestone in just 18 months

On July 17, 2022, India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage surpassed 200 crore, or 2 billion, after vaccinations began in the country on January 16, 2021.

India touched its 100 Unicorn Startups Mark – A Milestone for India’s startup economy

With Open, a fintech startup valued at more than $1 billion, India’s startup ecosystem has reached a new milestone of 100 unicorns. Open’s admission to the coveted unicorn club comes at a time when Indian startups are thriving, with an increase in fundraising and capital. According to the Ministry of Finance’s Economic Survey 2021–2021, India has the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, after the United States and China.

Nationalization of Indian Railways

Indian Railways, which was nationalised in 1951, is now the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second-largest network under single management.

The State Bank of India (SBI) was founded

The State Bank of India was established in 1955. The Imperial Bank of India was nationalised in 1955, with the Reserve Bank of India owning 60% of the company, and its name was changed to the State Bank of India.

India conducted Pokhran-II tests

On May 11 and 13, 1998, twenty-four years after Pokhran-I, the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted five additional nuclear tests at Pokhran. Dr. R. Chidambaram, chief scientific adviser, DRDO Director, and Deputy Director, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), coordinated this test planning with Dr. Abdul Kalam, chief scientific adviser and DRDO Director.

India gets its first tribal President

On July 25, 2022, Droupadi Murmu took oath as the 15th President of India. She is the first tribal and the second lady to become the President of India.

Oscar Awardees from India

India’s GDP in 1947 was Rs. 2.7 lac crores, accounting for 3% of global GDP at the time. It is now USD 2.62 billion, more than 70 times higher than in 1947, and accounts for 6.68% of global GDP. It is not a significant increase, given that per capita income in India in 1947 was Rs.250 per year, and it is now USD 2200 (roughly Rs.1.6 lacs) per year, owing primarily to a multifold increase in prices over the decades, as well as some real income growth.

India’s population in 1947 was 340 million, equal to the population of the United States today, and India’s population today is 138 crores, just two crores behind China, and is expected to surpass China in 2022. Literacy in India was 12% in 1947, and it is now nearly 74% of all adults.

Officially, there are approximately 32 million NRIs-PIOs in the world today, with unofficial figures exceeding 40 million. These remittances will contribute nearly 3% of India’s GDP in 2020 (more than their population ratio), and they will also shape the country’s foreign exchange money by 22% to 23%. Furthermore, NRIs frequently initiate charities and have been instrumental in providing financial assistance during difficult times such as the ongoing pandemic, floods, and so on.

We should look forward to a truly people-oriented democratic government and growth-oriented policies as we enter the 75th year of our independence.  India has an elected government that is divided into three tiers: local self-government, provincial governance, and central/federal governance. Elections have been held on a fairly regular basis. But India has an ethnic democracy and not an absolute democracy. India is the largest democracy in the world. The governance of a narrowly elected government is bound to be influenced by vote-bank politics and the interests of smaller groups (communal, regional, or caste-specific) over the best interests of all citizens. 

Article 21 (A) of the Indian Constitution was amended to make free and compulsory education a fundamental right for all children aged 6 to 14 years. Articles 15, 17, and 46 of the Indian Constitution protect the educational interests of the country’s poorest citizens. These are socially, economically, and educationally disadvantaged families, including those from scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs).

However, literacy remains at 74% of the adult population, and this is only the ability to write and sign names. Higher education for Indian adults is provided by approximately 1045 universities and 40,000 colleges. The Indian school education system is one of the largest in the world, with over 1.5 million schools, nearly two-thirds of which are government-run. In comparison, China has 96% literacy among all adults, with a law mandating ten years of schooling.

In India, a progressive new education policy was recently enacted. The ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign has begun. Women’s employability is low, and girls are still thought to be married off by the majority of the population. A safer environment for women everywhere should be a top priority. The environment continues to be biassed against female citizens. Compulsory education up to plus 2 level, including a vocational skill, is a constitutional promise that must be fulfilled in full, making the Right to Education a fundamental, inclusive, and accessible right for every child until the age of 18. 

Several other policy areas require revision. India should allow dual citizenship and promote policies that benefit the Indian diaspora. Foreign policy, the health sector, agriculture reform, sustainable industrialization, unleashing the power of the creative sector, and other issues must be reconsidered.

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