As we turn 60 our thoughts invariably turn to how successful have we been in living up to the dream of India, the nation as it was on the eve of 26th January, 1950. A plethora of thoughts cross our minds as to whether the constitution or we, the people were responsible for the state we are in. We are reminded of Dr. Ambedkar, Pandit Nehru and the revered Mahatma- the champions of India. Who triumphed when now we look at the series of events in hind-sight? The dreamer or the pragmatist? Who’s idea was it to create a socialist republic state of India where the powers of executive would rule over the combined strength of legislature and judiciary?
We come back to the age old question of what is the most important role of the state? According to Kautilya, who wrote in the Arthashastra, Kautthe maintenance of law and order and the dispensation of justice is the science of the government. Indeed, Robert Nozick, one of 20th century’s most influential political philosophers, was of the opinion that the first responsibility of the state is to protect its citizens against violence, theft and fraud as well as to enforce contracts. In a democracy, which as we are taught to believe is for the people, by the people and of the people who bears the responsibility of the state? We demand of our government to provide us with security, promote economic and social development and sustainably march towards a progressive land where the fundamental rights are truly fundamental and the law of the land is there for the taking. How successful have we been in making this dream come to reality?
We have evolved, as a nation and as its citizens. The 50 million strong young citizens today are more aware of what is expected of them and yet there is a strange disconnect between their desires and their foremost responsibility. We should know, for a fact that an ideal state is a misnomer because there can never be such a thing. Such is the nature of man that the idea of good and bad falls prey to the theory of relativity. It ain’t a black and white picture. A gray cat on a gray porch in a gray day for a gray cereal.
For long, we Indians have looked up to the ideals that define the west. For long have we nurtured our childhood with the hope of a truly democratic nation, for long have we passed on the responsibility to others. But times, they are a changing my friend. I being an eternal optimist am pleasantly surprised at the pace with which we have come to appreciate the basic tenets of nature-that things do not naturally fall in place, buildings do not come up all by themselves and achievements do not spring up all of a sudden. I see a punctured enthusiasm, feel the rhythmic pulse of change and am enamored by the brilliance of the times. We do live in interesting times and so did our ancestors, the difference being the slow and steady pace of education. This enlightenment is bringing about a refreshing transformation, the likes of which cometh once in a century, the likes of which has the potential to scale up and bring about a 21st century renaissance.
I am hopeful that one day in my lifetime I would look at the sky and ponder of where things were back then and where things are now. For your sake, I sincerely wish you do too.