India – A Vibrant Democracy and Pluralist Society | WeForNews

For much of the 2,000 years of the common era, India was the largest economy contributing one-third of global output. Archaeological evidence traces the origins of the ancient Indus Valley Indian civilization to the fifth millennium BCE.

Also in medieval times, India had several glorious empires and great civilizations spread over millions of miles under the rule of enlightened emperors.

Around the last quarter of the last millennium, India came under the influence of the East India Company for almost a century during the 18th and 19th centuries. Subsequently, the Sepoy mutiny in 1857 compelled the British to place India directly under the British Crown for another ninety years. For almost two centuries, India was therefore anchored to Great Britain in the service of the sole interests of the British Empire. Of all the colonies the British conquered, controlled and benefited immensely from, India was by far the largest and richest and was often referred to as the jewel in the (British) crown.

Before finally leaving India, the British divided the Indian subcontinent into two countries in three parcels – India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. India’s population was then 330 million and the GDP was 2.7 trillion rupees, or 3% of world GDP. A country that accounted for a third of world production for much of the two millennia before had therefore been bled white by colonial masters.

Independent India

Independent India has witnessed 17 free and fair parliamentary elections with fifteen prime ministers at the helm – each contributing their share to the growth, stability and development of the Indian nation, its society and its economy.

How some Prime Ministers of India attempted to build a modern India out of the debris of two centuries of British Empire rule is in itself a great story and has been told by many authors, Indian and foreign.

In the 75 years since independence, India has negotiated a difficult, sometimes treacherous journey filled with five wars (1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999) and faced with the frequency of natural calamities like floods, famines, droughts and epidemics.

Two of its elected prime ministers were brutally murdered and a third died mysteriously after the ceasefire agreement was signed in the Soviet city of Tashkent following the 1965 Indo-Pakistani war.

A 21-month period between 1975 and 1977 remains an aberration in India’s otherwise unbroken democracy when the basic rights of Indian citizens were suspended during the emergency period.

Progress made

A lot of water has flowed in the Ganges since India gained independence. During the period 1950-51, the contributions to Indian GDP of agriculture, industry and services sectors were 56%, 15% and 29%, respectively.

Agriculture employed the largest labor force at 72%, with manufacturing and services providing 10% and 18% of jobs respectively. Today, the service sector accounts for 54% of India’s GDP. Industry and agriculture follow with 25.92% and 20.19% respectively.

Life expectancy on the eve of independence was 32 years. He is now over 70 years old. In 1950, the infant mortality rate in India was 145.6/1,000 live births and the maternal mortality rate in the 1940s was 2,000/100,000 live births, which fell to 1,000 in the 1950s. 1950.

There were only 50,000 doctors in the whole country and the number of primary health care centers was 725. Today, infant mortality is 27.7 per 1,000 births and the maternal mortality rate is 103 per 100,000. India now has more than 1.2 million doctors.

There are 54,618 sous-santres (SHCs), 21,898 primary health centers (PHCs), and 4,155 urban primary health centers (UPHCs), as of December 8, 2021. There are up to 70,000 public and private hospitals. As of April 5, 2022, there were 117,771 Ayushman Bharat Health and Welfare Centers (AB-HWCs) operational in India apart from 748 e-Hospitals established across the country under the initiative Government’s “Digital India”.

As for education, when the British left India, there were 210,000 primary schools, 13,600 colleges and 7,416 senior secondary schools in India, in addition to 498 colleges and 27 universities. Today there are 1.6 million schools, 42,343 colleges and a thousand universities. More than 250 million children are educated in India today and nearly 40 million are enrolled in our universities.

India survived a devastating once-a-century Covid-19 pandemic and its economy shrank by 7.3% in the 2020-21 financial year. It may be some consolation that this contraction was weaker than in other major economies. According to the latest available estimates, the GDP growth rate is pegged at 8.7%, which should be seen in the context of a 7.3% contraction the previous year.

India is united as a great nation by the strength and stability of its democracy, the rule of law and a breathtaking diversity of its people in terms of religion, language, culture, climate, culture and culture. history, geography and more. At the time of India’s first census in 1951, Hindus were 305 million (84.1%), Muslims 35.4 million (9.8%), Christians 8.3 million and Sikhs 6.86 million (1.9%).

In 2022, the population is estimated at 1090 million Hindus (79.80%), 200 million Muslims (14.23%), 31.2 million Christians (2.3%), 23.7 million Sikhs (1.72%), 9.6 million Buddhists (0.70%). ), 5.1 million Jains (0.37%) and 9.1 million (0.66%) from other religions and 3.3 million (0.24%) from undeclared religion.

There are two million Hindu temples, 300,000 active mosques, 8,114 Jain temples, including a few overseas, over 125 Buddhist monasteries, stupas and pagodas, some 35 Jewish synagogues, etc.

At the time of independence many predicted that India would split into pieces based on caste, creed, tribe, language, culture etc. but it remained in one piece and stronger than never.

Future prospects

Over the past 10 years, despite declining growth rates from 2016 until the economy picked up this year and a large burden of unemployment haunting the country’s policy makers, a quiet revolution is unfolding in the area of technology, digitization and innovation. , carried by young Indian companies. The government’s “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” crusade gave it impetus.

The latest research on the Indian economy over the past 10 years by analyst Ruchir Sharma has some exciting revelations. In 2011, India had 55 billionaires with a cumulative wealth of $256 billion, which was then equivalent to 13.5% of India’s GDP.

Ten years later, in 2021, India is home to 140 billionaires with a cumulative wealth of $596 billion, or 19.6% of GDP. Sharma adds that 110 of them are new billionaires created in the last decade.

At the time of independence, India was the sixth largest economy in the world. In 2021, it retains the same position, which is no small feat, with India’s population having more than quadrupled.

Notwithstanding the above, there is no room for complacency as, (a) India still has a large population that lives below the poverty line, estimated by the World Bank at 140 million, or 10% Population ; (b) the formal and informal sectors may not be able to absorb the large numbers of educated young people dying of college (2022 estimate is 10.76 million); (c) external and internal factors will continue to haunt the political establishment in its quest to achieve double digit GDP growth rate, which is what India needs of the hour.

However, India also has several advantages: (i) a median age below 30; (ii) a strong and concentrated government; (iii) growing market; (iv) an innovative Indian youth.

If India persists in its pursuit of building and consolidating its infrastructure, maintains cohesion and harmony in society, stabilizes predictable coherence in policy formulation and implementation, a better future can be assured to future generations.

(AR Ghanashyam is a retired Indian diplomat who served as India’s Ambassador to Angola and India’s High Commissioner to Nigeria. Opinions expressed are personal)

Comments are closed.