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India at 77 years: We have Miles to go before we sleep

It is time to be gracious, as India has come a long way. Sure, the distance yet to be covered is long, but a good foundation leads to good living and global love

Rajeev Narayan

Today, we celebrate the 77th year of India’s independence, our independence, when Indians are allowed to freely walk down India’s streets without remonstration or rebuke, and always with gay abandon. Don’t sell this point short, or comment on my repeated use of the word ‘India’, for this is important in a country that faced centuries of self-vaunted and ill-begotten overseas supremacy, domination, and finally managed internal fragmentation.

Since 1947, we have left that behind us, and how. We are now at the cusp of being a global economic superpower, having thrown off the vestiges and shackles of those who tried to smear us with a unique slur; that we are a nation of snake charmers, elephant-walkers, and illiterate minions. Just think of it—indeed, we are now challenging and luring the world with our moral turpitude and temerity to take anyone on. And we are succeeding—we are about to reach the moon and beyond with our very own Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) breaking all records. The point is simple, India is willing to take on tasks unimaginable for most nations and is quietly impelling them. Welcome to our new India.

It has not been easy

Using the words ‘roughshod’ or ‘slipshod’ for our progress would be a misdemeanour, for we have come a long way through some very tough times and regimes. As the headline says, we need to think and achieve some more. Today, this 77th year of independence is a day of celebration and accomplishments, things that we ordinarily tend to ignore or overlook. Remember the day when Gandhi was shot and we all prayed as a nation for continued succulence and sustenance? Nearly three-quarters of a decade later, we have not just survived, we have conquered and moved past the tirade. We have almost arrived.

Why do I say that? Look at our highways—they are the best in the world, stretching for thousands of kilometers and connecting the highest and lowliest of Indians, for we are one. Look at our Railways—the Britishers may have created the network but that has been converted to a masterpiece now, perhaps the greatest in the world, especially over the last decade. Look at our IT professionals—they help create the software that runs nearly every laptop and PC in the world. Finally, look at what happened during the terrible COVID-19 pandemic—we created and supplied vaccines to most needy nations in the world. As is our history and legacy, we cared for the world, sometimes even more than we did our own; for that is how we have been brought up—atithi devo bhava (take care of guests as Gods).

India is the world’s new growth engine and stands for resilience and stability, according to none less than the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) itself. The financial sector’s stability is being carefully maintained and managed, while market participants and financial institutions have been provided an equitable share in preserving this situation. After the so-called ‘banking crisis’ a few years back, India now sports a twin balance sheet advantage. Bank and corporate balance sheets are not just strong but deleveraged too, giving ample space for newer investments for all-around growth and renewed progression.

There is a also surge in private investment in key sectors such as iron and steel, automobile, petroleum, metals, and chemicals. Just two weeks back, the Government affirmed that after many deliberations, consensus is emerging on several critical issues, such as the use of public goods and infrastructure to deliver benefits to citizens and the need to take action on Climate Change. Proactive and constant over-watch alone can help save the day on the Climate Change and Global Warming fronts, and this has now been taken up on a war footing. 

Rising global stature

Just a week-and-a-half back, leading global brokerage firm Morgan Stanley upgraded Indian stocks to an ‘overweight’ rating and ranked the country as the #1 market in its basket of Asian emerging markets, ex-Japan. Beating the likes of Korea and the United Arab Emirates, India jumped five places on the back of a structural uptrend, secular leadership, and relative valuations. Multi-polar world trends are supporting FDI and portfolio flows in India, with the nation adding a reform and macro-stability agenda that underpins a strong Capex and profit outlook, Morgan Stanley said.

The path of the Chandrayaan-3 (ISRO)

That’s just the beginning of a bite of the cheesecake. Recently, Naina Sahni, Director-Global Market Strategist, at HSBC Global Private Banking and Wealth, said: “By establishing a digital public infrastructure on an unprecedented scale, India has set an enviable example of how rapid technological innovation can help a country leapfrog and spur its economic growth.” High-tech exports such as IT services and mobile handsets, and new industries such as specialized chemicals, form another crucial pillar of our new India. We have an indisputable cost advantage, and our services exports have outstripped goods exports in recent years. 

What is the future?

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It is bright, if we manage to keep the searchlight on, for there are vested interests at play and they are trying their best to disgorge the growth engine. Detractors are always there in any growth story and we will have to manage, evade them, and keep them at bay, but true victory shall only come when every Indian rises above his stature of today and becomes a success story in his or her own right. That, luckily, is not too far away and so long as we remain on the right path, ‘we shall overcome’, as that English poem goes that I would repeatedly recite in my childhood. Now I recite only one that I have penned myself: “Righteousness and selflessness always lead to growth, and success and fulfill the aspirations of people, as history has taught us”. In this new endeavor, we shall not fail.

The writer is a veteran journalist and communications specialist.

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