India's 60th Independence Anniversaryby Ronald Pecorry Editor Satire and Comment
(ACPA-Atlanta) 60 years ago this week, Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India, completed his discussions with the Atheist Nehru, the devout Hindu Gandhi and Muslim leader Jinnah. His officials then drew some lines on a map and Mountbatten cut and ran, leaving two new countries in his wake.
Nehru became India's first Prime Minister, Jinnah became Governor-General of Pakistan and Gandhi, broken hearted at the division of Mother India into two countries, went to Calcutta to help reduce communal violence during the first tumultuous days of freedom.
Mountbatten's cut and run legacy
Mountbatten had been given 18 months by Parliament to end British rule in India, instead he left after 6 months. His motivation was to return to his naval career where he had aspirations to restore family honor. His father, German born, but a leader of the British navy was demoted in World War One, on essentially race based national security fears, and Viceroy Louis was intent on getting to the top and restoring family honor.
So India and Pakistan became free countries a year earlier than planned. There were tragic consequences to Mountbatten's cut and run policy. The British should have put tens of thousands of troops on the planned border lines to guarantee security, instead Mountbatten had quietly pulled out the troops and no-one was there to protect the innocent. An estimated one million lost their lives, murdered in terrible inter-religious violence as practically all the Hindus in the new Pakistan fled to India and many Muslims in India fled to Pakistan. In Punjab, a state which was divided in two by Partition, there was particularly heartbreaking violence as tens of thousands of men, women and children of both sides, were murdered while fleeing across the new border that divided an essentially homogenous group of people.
Today the difference between these two countries is striking. This is attributable to the existence of democracy in India and the solid civil service left over by the British, which allowed the country to start on its feet. I have many friends from Pakistan here and I take no joy in saying that country is close to being a failed state, on the brink of collapse since it was founded. On the other hand, India's vibrant democracy has stayed the course and provided the underlying stability for India's economic growth.
So India has come forward leaps and bounds and will be one of the richest countries in the world in the years to come. Indeed, while India lags China in infrastructure and population control, China will one day have to have a political reckoning whose outcome is unpredictable.
The education system in India is tremendously competitive and securing as much education as one can has become a national cultural value, unlike the western preference to get out of education as soon as one can. This competitiveness among students has pushed India to the forefront of technology where they compete and win in many fields. We all know of the many that have not benefited from the recent growth. On our links page you can help Aid-India one of the many groups helping in positive ways. The tragedy of overpopulation and underdevelopment in many parts of the economy means endless poverty for many,
The Injustice of Inequality
The treatment of women and girls leaves a lot to be desired. While there are many cultural issues here that westerners may perhaps never understand, these cultural norms are often misused to suppress women. Women should be educated equally and treated equally. If one educates a girl, one educates the entire family she will later have, so tremendous developmental returns follow policies aimed at improving the situation for women and girls.
The Curse of Corruption
Corruption is another primary problem in India. This corruption can be eradicated, although many despair of its entrenchment. An increasingly aggressive media is helping, as are the many new media outlets such as the Internet which shine a light on corruption. The ability to quickly and widely spread information is a tremendous advantage in the battle against corruption making it harder for officials to hide their crimes
But until there is a bigger middle class of taxpayers who refuse to pay extra to public servants who are already funded by income taxes, the corruption will continue. The growth of this middle class is also hampered by the huge amounts of wealth tied up in the black economy. There needs to be a massive shift of Indian wealth into the open economy. Housing for example, the major source of individual wealth is handled almost entirely in the black market with paper purchases prices which are then followed up by huge sums of cash exchanging hands off the books for the actual price.
I conclude my short piece by expressing my deep love for India and all things India.
I could spend a lifetime visiting India, but will have to make do with the stories from my
Delhi born expert, who brings joy, color, intelligence and life everywhere she goes.
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