India’s Survival a Miracle: Guha

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Jammu—“That we (India) survive still is a miracle and that we are a democracy even more so. We have falsified the pundits, but we still have much work ahead of us in the area of nation building,” said noted writer and eminent historian Dr. Ramachandra Guha.

Delivering the 2017 Balraj Puri Memorial Lecture titled – India at 70 : A Historian’s report card – at Jammu university today, Dr. Guha said that he would call Indian democracy’s 70-years a 50-50 success story. As far as political democracy is concerned, he said that India’s greatest achievement has been holding free and fair elections whereas on the negative side there have been increasing curbs on freedom of expression and a decline in the autonomy of public institutions.

In the area of social freedom, Dr. Guha mentioned that Indian experience has been better with the loosening of linkages between caste and occupation and the link between family and marriage. “Women and Dalits are still discriminated and exploited but are less unfree now than at any time in the past 5000 years”

Within the domain of cultural freedom, he said “The sustenance of linguistic pluralism is perhaps independent India’s greatest achievement.” However, he noted that India’s record in ensuring the freedom to worship a god or gods of your choice (or no god at all) has been mixed. “ Muslims are freer to practice their faith in India than, for example, Muslims in China. “ But they suffer disproportionately in times of communal rioting. Even in times of peace they can be shunned or stigmatized. “

Lastly, in economic sphere, he said that in the 70 years there has a decline in poverty and destitution, which “Nehru, Indira and Modi, and all other PM’s in between have seen this as their central goal.

“ For the first 30 years of independence, economic activity was dominated by the state. The license permit quota raj was dismantled in 1991 and this sparked off a surge of entrepreneurial energies in the country.” However, the negative side of economic development has been the trend of jobless growth and environment degradation.

 

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