As India became a nation independent from alien rule in 1947 at the stroke of midnight when the world ushered in August 15, there were a few eyebrows raised in Britain.
Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s wartime prime minister and a staunch antagonist of freedom for India, said, “Independent India won the battle for world recognition but lost the peace that followed it.”
Regrettably, there were a few in India, who agreed; for, following freedom at midnight, India had to contend with a series of challenges.
These included seeking orderliness in its affairs, putting together a government that would rule with benevolence, appease hundreds of princes who were used to their own style of governance and living and most important of all, prepare the country to become a Republic with its own constitution.
Sixty-three years on, Sir Winston and all the other doubters have been proved wrong.
India has not only preserved the ideals of democracy but also promoted it, despite some serious challenges that it had to face with differing political ideologies.
India is perhaps the only country in the world that has accommodated a variety of political philosophies, ranging from the extreme right and left, to the moderates.
Yet, the penchant for the rule of the people, by the people and for the people has remained strong, although the political scenario has vastly changed, prohibiting a single party rule in the centre and in several states.
That said, Indians have demonstrated their remarkable and innate capacity to self-governance, never permitting either the goings on in some of its neighbouring countries to influence its own political system, or the emergence of extreme forces from within.
India remains a country with a myriad of problems, with a runaway growth in population and with an increasing number of people below the poverty line.
To many around the world, India is a paradox.
It is home to some of the wealthiest in the world and a place for about 380 million people who live below the poverty line.
For a country that predominantly depends on the agricultural sector for growth, with a heavy influence of the monsoon, economic deliverance has been a formidable task.
Floods and droughts are a part of its natural history.
India is a land of plenty, rich in natural and human resources. Its entrepreneurs are leaders in takeover bids of multinationals, a nation that has contributed to the progress of science and technology in the US and Europe.
India and Indians have shown resilience, diligence and the competence to order economic growth and social development. For a nation to march forward with a number of forces pulling back is not easy.
Arguably, there are problems, but which country does not?
We salute the people of this great nation as they mark their 63rd Year of independence.