60 Years Of Independence – Voices Of Democratic India

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Freedom or independence, call it whatever you may wish. But the spirit is the same everywhere. Be it 4th of July in USA or 15th of August in India it is the fight against oppression, tyranny and subjugation politically, socially and economically. 


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Photograph: RK Bhat


On the occasion of 60 years of Independence, we have seen a Dalit president, a Muslim president, a Sikh and now, even a woman president, but do you think our country has completely achieved democracy?


Let?s find out what some leaders and members of our society have to say about our hard earned independence!


Prof. Hilda Rayappan, Mangalore


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(Director, Prajna Counseling Centre, Mangalore)
 
A very loaded question indeed and ‘complete’ is a complex word.  Let us look at this question itself from a different angle.  It is sixty years and we have a woman president, but how do women feel about their own independence?  Now this question becomes simpler to answer and the answer is ‘Yes’.  Those who have stood their ground and have lived a principled life can boldly and loudly say that they are feeling and seeing the liberation around them.
 
It is so timely to recall the ‘People’s President’s’ acknowledgement at Anna University.  Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam stated that, if 33% reservation is ensured at parliament, the highest policy making place of the country, the country would see far more growth and the meaning of independence would be fully realized.  A learned person, a man, and coming from a community where we think women are oppressed; this is a very bright statement.  He should know better than all of us and he made a public statement about the power and ability of women.  Do we need a compliment and acknowledgement greater than this?
 
Women are well represented in all the spheres largely.  If the women have worked with grit, they have achieved.  An article in the Outlook magazine features the women scientists at ISRO – it is not Suneetha Williams that we need to look at; we have our own Suneetha’s it says.
 
Political, media, corporate, business, human rights, social consciousness, name the field and one can recall more than handful of names of women.  For the kind of investment that was made in the previous decades on women education or women empowerment is multifold, reservation or not, India will see the liberated and empowered women in the very near years.  A woman president is surely a positive sign and a symbol of what is to come in the coming years.
 
As I conclude, there are many other spheres needing liberation apart from women, unless all those achieve the maturity that the women have achieved, the country cannot be considered a full democracy.


Allwyn Fernandes, Mumbai


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(Allwyn Fernandes, a former Senior Assistant editor of The Times of India, is now Director ? Media Practice of R&PM: Edelman, and an international trainer in helping people develop media communications skills. He lives in Mumbai.)


You have asked two questions: has our country achieved true democracy? And has it done so because it has had a Muslim, a Sikh, a Dalit and now a woman as president?


My answer to the first is that true democracy is an ideal that you will never attain. India has most certainly taken giant strides on the road to democracy over the past 60 years, but not because it has had a Muslim, a Sikh or a Dalit as president. Individuals in high places do not make a democracy. At best, they are aspirational or inspirational symbols. And not all of them have been illustrious or lived up to the expectations of the high office they held.


If India has taken giant strides on the road of democracy, it is because of a triad of NGOs, the media and the legal fraternity. The NGOs have been working to awaken people to their rights as individuals and as citizens; the media have helped them bring injustice to public attention; the legal fraternity have, in tandem with the media helped the powerless get justice when the government and other institutions have proved either unresponsive or indifferent or both despite public censure. This is how the murderers of Jessica Lal and Nitish Katara have been put on the mat. Likewise Sanjeev Nanda, the grandson of a high profile former Naval Chief, reaffirming the basic principle that in a democracy all are equal before the law.


Our experience over the past 60 years has shown that installing a Dalit, a Muslim, a Sikh or a woman in Rashtrapati Bhavan does little to improve the lot of the people around. Again, Presidents have made a difference not because of their faith but because of their courage as individuals to speak up and stir the conscience of the nation. Presidents Narayanan and Kalam have done this on many an occasion, either by returning Ordinances or Bills for reconsideration, and generally refusing to be a rubber stamp.


Among the NGOs, there are two types – those who actively work to awaken people to their rights and the public conscience to injustice, and those who have been quietly working to empower the powerless, especially women, through education. Among the latter, I include the Church which through thousands of nuns and priests working quietly and with no expectation of personal reward has worked to make education and medical care accessible to the poor and needy across the country.


For Mangaloreans, perhaps the best symbol of this is the Bethany congregation which pioneered the education of girls in rural Mangalore in line with the vision of its founder, Fr Raymond Mascarenhas. Thanks to the Bethany nuns, thousands of village girls got an access to education, thereby making them, their children and their family’s better citizens.


What is democracy but the expression of a society’s respect for each individual as a valuable human resource, and its putting in place a system to enable every human being achieve his or her potential? But this does not always filter down from the top, Often it is achieved by a push from below. And so a Bhanwari Devi who objected to a child marriage in her village and was raped by the men in her village in retribution contributes a valuable corner stone towards the citadel of democracy. So does the village girl who insists on taking the shortest route to school on a bicycle through the upper caste portion of the village, no matter their taunts and sneers.


India is still far from being a full democracy in 60 years. Not even Britain which has seen a democracy for several hundred years, or the US for 250 years, can make such a claim. But Indian democracy, for all its hiccups, has made remarkable progress in just 60 years because of the triad of NGOs, the media and the legal fraternity – not necessarily because of those in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.


A. Balakrishna Hegde, Bangalore


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Apparently, there is no doubt that we have achieved democracy in our country. But the problem lies in the fact that we have too much of democracy and too much of freedom. What I mean is that we are misusing and abusing Democracy.


We have misunderstood the words ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. Freedom today according to the general understanding is doing whatever one feels like doing. Freedom we think is just being bothered about oneself and not being bothered bout anyone around me.  But truly freedom is; while I have my freedom, I must also be aware that everyone around me is also entitled to his freedom, my freedom should not infringe upon someone else’s freedom. Today’s politicians have no respect left for the citizens, they think that they can twist & turn the Democracy the way they feel like without being sensitive to the citizens’ needs. They have become greedy to no end and this is partly because of misplaced Democracy. This is also because the general public is not exercising the democratic rights bestowed upon them. That is how these politicians are able to get away with whatever they do. There is a saying that "bad things happen when good people keep quiet?. Large number of people in today’s society are so exasperated with politicians, their manipulations, their greed, their audacity, their high handed behaviour that they are keeping quiet without exercising their democratic rights.


Coming to the subject of the President being a Dalith or a Muslim or a Sikh or a Woman, just because we had a Dalith President long time back, does it mean that the plight of all the Dalith in the country has improved? We are living in a fool?s paradise. The politicians are satisfied with superficial Democracy. They are trying to pursue their vote bank policies and nothing beyond that. They are trying to con people. They are openly and continuously trying to fool the countrymen. They have succeeded till date.


But there is a limit for people’s patience, a time will come when there will be an uprising of well meaning citizens. There may be civil disobedience. There may be another Gandhi emerging. There may be another long battle. From out of all these will emerge true Democracy. 


Sr. M. Linette AC


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(Principal, St. Agnes Pre-University College, Mangalore)


India has the world’s largest democracy.  On the occasion of its 60th anniversary of Independence, India has a woman President.  I believe, Mrs. Pratibha Patil will play her unique role with her vast experience in politics and feminine qualities.
 
60 years ago, India emerged from the wreckage of the British Raj; this is only the beginning.  It has a long way to go in seeing that every citizen enjoys the benefits of democracy.  Besides the age-old problems of poverty, illiteracy and division in the society we have newer challenges springing from globalization.  What is needed in the post independence period is best said by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore in his prayer – ‘Where the mind is fearless, where knowledge is free, where the world is not broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, into that freedom, my Father, let my country awake.’
 
The dream of Mahatma Gandhi was not merely for political freedom, that was only the first step.  Though 60 years have passed, we have not succeeded in establishing Rama Rajya.  Poverty, illiteracy, injustice, oppression, violation of human rights, child labour, terrorism, communalism, atrocities against women and many are the problems that the country is suffering from.  For the strengthening and consolidation of democracy, women participation and representation in the political arena is very important.  The factor of placing a woman, as the head of a nation is to appease the women population creating an illusion that they are an integral part of the democratic set up when the reality is so different.
 
To achieve the goal of democracy, we need to rise above our selfish interests, recognize in each other our brother and sister, taking responsibility for the welfareof every citizen.  This is possible – as the human spirit is capable of transcending; it is done when every citizen – you and I – play our part in sincerity and love.


Leo Lasrado, Singapore


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(Mr. Leo Lasrado is a retired scientist. He worked for 30 years at Space Applications Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad. He was the Technical Advisor there and was the manager for the team that built the 1st Indian communication satellite payload, APPLE.  He is currently in Singapore.)


Providence has seen to it that India has achieved democracy to a very large extent. Let us look at the Presidents – we have had a Dalit, a Muslim, a Sikh and now even a woman President. Looking through a different prism we had as our Presidents – renowned freedom fighters, labour leaders, leaders who have been paragons in fostering Hindu-Muslim unity, eminent teachers, philosophers, top-notch scientists and good politicians.


Just look at our coalition politics. Our centre is governed by a combination of right and left parties, which has enabled the nation to tread the central path – which is good for the nation. Who says that without a single party rule, one cannot achieve growth? Look at the economic indices; we have a fast growing economy!


The exigencies of democracy in our nation have not only brought an eminent economist as a Prime Minister but also a member of a minority community, which could not be thought of in the recent past. Are not we reasonably free from communal tensions ignoring some stray pockets here and there?


The recent Uttar Pradesh assembly elections have demonstrated how vibrant the democratic system in our country is. Could anyone think of a party coming to power with the support of Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims? Is it not the democratic system that has kept our nation united despite our diversities?


Have a look at our judicial system. Has it not done a good job when the legislation was not meeting the standards of our democracy? There is a healthy push and pull effect between the parliament and the judiciary.


What about the executive? Despite the bureaucracy has it not tweaked the financial system? What about our growth engine, namely the IT industry? Do they not mean business?


Come to Science and Technology. In the recent agreement on atomic power plants finalised between India and the USA – were not all of our past and present chairmen of atomic energy commission involved in the decision-making? Is it not a sign of a mature democracy?


Finally to quote the Bible, "a tree is known by the fruit it bears". How many countries can boast of a free medical system for their poor? What have you to say about the recent sale of the Indian satellite launch vehicle to Israel for a price 25% lower than their own and not fully proven launch vehicle?


How do you feel when you are abroad when they refer to Indians as brainy people? Are not all these, products of a democratic India? I leave it to you to think over and arrive at your own conclusion.


Diwakar Shenoy, Mangalore


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The very thinking that there is Democracy in India will negate the very meaning of the structure of freedom and basics like- "of the people, by the people and for the people".


After 60 years of Independence, in India the socio-economic conditions have worsened. In the name of democracy India is ruled by neo-dominant class who have no respect for the constitution, laws and rules. They curtail the rights of the law-abiding common man and working class.


In providing education to all and employment no sincere efforts are made during the last 6 decades. These rights are not guaranteed in India. Corruption has reached its peak due to protection by the law makers. This has destroyed the very foundation of building a strong and vibrant Indian Society.  And those getting few percent votes win to rule against the high percent voters. Cheating of weaker sections of the society and appeasement of minorities is glaringly visible.


If I have to choose between democracy without human face and dictatorship with human face that provides education, food, clothing and shelter to all, I would prefer the latter.


Leo D’Souza, Mangalore


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(Manager, Sandesha Foundation for Culture and Education)


India’s glorious  sixty years of independence calls for a great celebration –  not only because of India’s achievements in these sixty years but also for steadfastly  holding on to its independence. While the countries surrounding it have lost their freedom to dictatorships and military regimes, India has safeguarded its freedom zealously and this I think is its greatest achievement in these sixty years.


Ours is a country of unity in diversity and the plurality of cultures, traditions, religions and languages makes this diversity still more striking – but in spite of all these, India has maintained its unity and shown to the world that whatever be the differences among us, we are one and that also proves the point that persons from the Dalits, Minority communities, and a women have risen to the highest positions in the country. This shows the strength and greatness of our democracy.


But, if you look at the definition of democracy, we cannot say that our country has completely achieved the democracy. The fruits of this freedom have not reached fully to all the people of the country and Mahatma’s dream of wiping away the tears from the eyes of the people of the country has not been realised yet. The vast dimension of the country, population bulging at the seems, abysmal poverty, rampant corruption and the daunting illiteracy have stood as an obstacle in achieving complete democracy.  When you do not know when the next meal is coming from, you cannot expect people to think of democracy or their rights.


Our country is still steeply immersed in the age-old caste system where the ‘have nots’ are at the mercy of the ‘haves’ and this problem of inequality will have to be tackled first and the people made literate so that they may fight for their rights. Till that day, we would not be able to say with a straight face that India has completely achieved democracy.


Let us unite and work relentlessly for that great day when everyone among us will enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy. Long Live India Jai Hind!


Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi


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India is a democratic country. What is meant by democracy? Is it merely a system of government?


According to J.W Garner, the great political scientist, "Democracy has been variously conceived as a political status, an ethical concept, and a social condition."


I have gone through various articles in different papers and websites to understand about our Democracy and its meaning. Based on them, I have analyzed the situation prevailing in our Country over the years.


If we go back in time and see the prevailing conditions in 1950 such as challenges to build our Nation on a strong foundation of Unity in Diversity, Languages, Habitats, Economic Industrial and Agricultural Reforms and Infrastructure development to become a Sovereign Socialistic, Secular Democratic Republic – We should ask ourselves today, how far we have been successful in achieving this. Then only we will be able to understand about our Democracy.


Over the years India has had three Muslim Presidents, one Sikh, one Dalit and now, for the first time, a Woman President.  The President is elected by the peoples’ representatives such as MPs and MLAs. Each MP/MLA has a certain number of votes depending on the constituency and the electorates. Thus, the election of the President indirectly reflects the strength of the political parties that represent us, thereby giving more power to the MPs and the MLAs. Sadly, our System has reduced the powers of the President to a rubber stamp. There should be certain essential conditions for the successful working of the Democratic System such as Equality of opportunity, Literacy, Tolerance and fraternity, People with a civic sense, Social justice, Free and fair election system, Purposeful and Principled Leadership, Strong and responsible opposition and finally Independent and impartial judicial system.


India’s democratic system has been working successfully for the last half a century. All the same, this process has been facing several challenges such as Divisive Tendencies, Extremism / Terrorism, Political instability, Unemployment, Growing illiteracy, and Corruption.


Democracy is not only a form of government but also a way of life. Election is a decisive process in a democratic system. Party system plays an important role in the subsistence of democracy. In a democratic set up the opposition has duties and responsibilities as much as the ruling party has.


While over 70 per cent of India’s population lives on less than Rs.80 a day, some strive to improve their living standards in an adverse condition and others live a life with poverty and humiliation! Despite nine per cent growth, less than one per cent of the national budget goes towards public health spending. We have child malnourishment levels that are higher than some parts of Africa. Alarmingly, a recent government of India-UNICEF study reveals that 56 percent of women and 79 per cent of children below three years old were anemic. It is worsening over the years.


Would the first Woman President be able bring smiles on their faces? Would she ever?


Do we admit failure when the police or the army fire on democratic protests often in the presence of IAS officers and members of ruling parties? Do the firings and repression in Nandigram and Kalinganagar only prove that development is directly dependent on guns?


Today, we see everywhere fertile agricultural lands are being converted to industrial lands for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that favor the rich, provide them tax-free shelters and greater opportunities to indulge in speculation of land and property. Infrastructure projects such as the Bangalore Mysore corridor has seen many MLAs and politicians grabbing vast areas of agricultural land for paltry sums of money, thus hitting a heavy blow on poor farmers. We also read about farmers committing suicide for not being able to get support price for their goods or not being able to bear the cost of fertilizers. Rampant mining activities in Bellary district have seen deforestation and environmental imbalance to a great extent while enabling a few politicians to attain the status of ‘Maharajas’!


As far as growth is concerned, only a handful sectors have seen rapid growth and only a few have benefited. Most governments have failed in democratizing more equitable access to the processes and benefits of the market. 


It is alarming that Maoist movements are getting stronger in many states due to peoples’ fading confidence in the governments. Corruption is reaching a new high with reports from the states of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh where more than 70 percent of the money reserved for developments is being cornered by the politicians, bureaucrats and contractors. Personal or party benefits hamper social and economical developments.


Without rule of law there is no democracy. Our people are willing to live with corruption and undue influence. Politicians, officials, policemen and judges are hand in glove. They invariably exercise in safeguarding their benefits than saving the truth. India lacks credible rule of law.  As a gross outcome, Indian democracy has sunk.


Learning from the above realities, I have very little hopes left that the present President has or the past ones have had any independent power to protect the democracy from sinking. For all reasons, our political system has limited them to act as rubber stamps.


While we are happy that our great Nation is celebrating 60 years of Independence, we also suffer 60 years of incumbent corruption, misrule, opportunism and political instability.


Rajshekar Bappal, Qatar


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(Manager, HR/Admin, Hyatt Plaza, Qatar)


As a non- resident Indian for two decades now, we have enjoyed the democracy scenario only on the News channel. And from what I have seen I don’t think that democracy is as beneficial as it is supposed to be. But then the grass always looks greener on the other side. There are always pro and cons for every country – every situation and every life style.


However, looking at the brighter side of it – yes, democracy has been a great tool for the highest development of our Country and India is now propelling into the 21st century as one of the most developed democratic countries in the World. There will be a time when people around the world will knock on India’s doors seeking employment opportunities. In fact this has already begun. An American national working for a multi-national company here in Doha has taken up a new assignment in Poona and I am sure he is not the only one. I am proud to be an Indian, and proud that the Indian economy is booming. Jai Hind!


Balkrishna Shetty, Bahrain


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Ambassador of India, Bahrain


The year 2007 is a special one for all Indians. It is the 150th anniversary of our First War of Independence, the Birth Centenary of the great patriot Bhagat Singh and the Diamond Jubilee of our Independence. It would be useful to recall today the memorable words of our first Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, uttered on the eve of 15th August ’07, "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance ?.We today end a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again.  The achievement, which we celebrate today, is but a step, an opening of opportunity to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us.  Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenges of the future?"


The last sixty years have shown that the people of India have been sufficiently brave enough and wise enough to have grasped many of the opportunities that have come our way for the upliftment of one billion of our countrymen from discrimination, poverty and inequality and overcome several major challenges to our prosperity, security and unity.  The Constitution that we the people of India gave to ourselves in 1950 was a blueprint for building a democratic secular republic. We promised ourselves to provide justice ? social, economic and political; liberty – of thought, expression and faith; and equality – of status and of opportunity. That these have not remained mere words on paper is evident from the fact that those of our citizens who had suffered centuries of discrimination and social inequity are today occupying some of the most powerful positions in the Government and elsewhere.  Indeed, peoples of every faith and community groups have risen to the top in different walks of life.  Our women too have been increasingly empowered and are holding the highest positions in the land and playing important roles in politics, in professions and in culture and sports.


On the economic side, India’s success is highly visible and widely acknowledged.   In 1947, India was considered one of the poorest nations in the world with 80 per cent of our population living below the poverty level.   Today eighty per cent of our population is above the poverty level even though our population has grown in the last sixty years from over 300 million to 1.1 billion.  While it is noteworthy that in the last three years India has been growing at over 9% per annum making it the fastest growing democracy in the world, the more significant point is that our per capita income has grown over the same period by around 7.5% per year. It is equally significant that according to National Council for Applied Science and Research (NCASR), India’s middle class is growing at the rate of over 8% per year.  Since our population growth is around 1.5%, this means that the balance 6.5% would be those rising from the weaker economic strata.  This is a good indicator that our prosperity is being shared equitably across the country.  But more needs to be done in this regard.   It is also remarkable that some of the biggest companies in India today are those which have been promoted by people with modest backgrounds but distinguished by high integrity, hard-work and visionary entrepreneurship. The large number of acquisitions of major foreign companies by Indian entrepreneurs are signs of great confidence in our own abilities to manage global business against the best in the world.


The last sixty years have been remarkable for the political empowerment of our 1.1 billion citizens.  We not only elect our representatives to our national Parliament and to our State legislatures but also to the Panchayati Raj institutions at the level of districts, towns and villages where 3 million elected representatives are contributing to the governance of India, one-third of them being women.   But we should not be satisfied with these achievements.  As citizens of a democratic India, it is our responsibility to ensure that we elect only those who place the country above self and believe that such offices are for serving the people.  We need to fulfill the ambition of the Father of our Nation Mahatma Gandhi, namely, to wipe every tear from every eye and that the service of India means the service of the most vulnerable and the most helpless in our country.


At the international level, India’s rise has been duly recognized as evidenced by the willingness of some of the most powerful nations to accommodate India’s interest in strategic domains.  This is not surprising as the world has recognized not only India’s economic, technological and cultural strengths but also that our foreign policy promotes mutual understanding, global peace, international cooperation and equitable development.


On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of our Independence Day, I would like to wish all my compatriots great success and prosperity along with good health and happiness.


Jai Hind!


Kulamarva Balakrishna, Austria


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(The photo attached was taken in 1983 with former Chancellor of Austria (Prime Minister), Dr. Bruno Kreisky, as I travelled with him on train during a three day electioneering campaign as his guest. The significance is that Dr. Kreisky was a member of the delegation which met Jawahar Lal Nehru to seek his intervention with Kremlin for withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Austria resulting in its full independence in 1955 after a period of ten years since the end of Hitler?s war. It was at Nehru’s intervention that Austria once again became a free country. Dr. Kreisky prided himself as a Social Democrat of Nehru School and admired India very much on account of that)


Yes; finally we have achieved what is called a complete democracy!


Consider this: India is a country of one plus billion population. Out of this almost a half are under aged meaning not eligible to vote. Besides considerably less than a half can read and write. Even among the literate some one tenth of the population may be in a position to comprehend the issues involved; but this does not mean they engage themselves to comprehend the issues. Just a few months ago I put a question to Mangalorean.com readers on the forum – if the sense of pudding is eating what is the sense of knowledge?  I could not get a single answer in response. By implication, for all our boasting of educational achievements, our population is not in a position to meaningfully confront itself of sudden tsunamis of any kind. The torrential rains of over 100cm in 24 hours at Bombay in 2005 showed that during the last 25 years of indecisive debate, we could not conclude and implement any emergency preparedness. An emergency preparedness is meant to confront war like situations. Tsunami type natural calamities are excluded from the preparedness. In other words, we remain helpless against ourselves.


Our portrait of the country is that of some entity, which has made no effort to identify itself realistically.  Not even a meaningful initial step has been taken. Let me illustrate through my pet theme. We have two (people’s democracy) models working in Kerala in the South and West Bengal in the North East functional. But both of these models are not functioning. That means these are two packed and labeled boxes, the contents inside remain still to be unfolded, and we are still not eager to open these Christmas gift parcels!


Imagine in a people’s democracy of West Bengal rural folk come to Calcutta, renamed Kolkatta to pull carts in monsoon inundated streets carrying loads of men, women and Children. The Left Government ruling the state does not see the reality in relation to human dignity for decades! How come, a foreign journalist, who came to India to write a book on the country’s winning independence instantly, identified the illness of the metropolis to write the book – "The City of Joy"? Even before him, a foreign nun from the poor Josip Broz Tito’s Kosovo State was moved to become the Mother Theresa of East Bengali and rural Bengali refugees starving to death on filth by the street corners!  She lives no more. But she became an Indian to get a Nobel Peace Prize for her work for the elevation of quality of life for the hungry sick and dying.


As for Kerala, the state which boasts of one hundred percent literacy rate, we have on one side a obscurantist Namboodaripad managed Guruvayur Temple, on the other side on the Shabarimalai hills the Ayyappan’s shrine, for the rest of the fashionable mob of course there is mother Amritanandamayee and the state depends on tourism and expatriate remittances of all kinds in black and in white!


In the heart of India, where Mayavathi rules, she squanders public funds in erecting Ambedkar statues! On the West, Gujarat is ruled by ministers holding morning and evening parades. In Rajasthan just above North there is an addition to the traditional Karani rat?s temple, an illegal Sati temple. Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Assam tribal belt?s are furthered fortified by feudal Maharashtrian and Andhra armstrongs. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are two great States which find it impossible to share river or ground water that is insufficient to meet the exploding demographical needs! Thus in the 60th year of our independence we are set to gate crash as super power. Do not consider ‘poor’ as misspelt since our foreign exchange earnings by the export of semi-skilled, middle class mob are adding up to the country?s purchasing power for weapons and substandard consumer goods offered by the strategic alliances of multinationals.


In our complete democracy achieved, we have gun runners in Kashmir as "freedom fighters", in Assam and North East frontier region as "national liberation fighters", in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgargh and other areas as leftist "Naxalites". Some of our parliamentarians are experts in cashing on questions or subletting their allotted accommodations.


Our law enforcement officials are encounter experts. Others love those who make fake currencies or stamp papers. There are still more law makers involved in promoting our ancient cow urine therapies and some of our gurus are undergoing trials for holy murders!


We have had Kayastha, Brahmin, Reddy, Sikh, Dalit, Muslim, Scientist and now we have a woman president. Our democracy is complete and our people’s helplessness on account of poverty and hunger remains with us even after 60 years of selfless sacrifices. Our people are being asked for further sacrifices under duress. That is what we may aptly call in Bangalore Kannada "bogalhe" (barking) democracy!


Freedom and its cost – Thus speak the VIPs


Veerappa Moily, ARC chairman


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Freedom or independence is not something which you wither away with freewheeling attitudes towards one self and towards the nation. The freedom of this country had been earned by our elders through the first movement of independence fully fought with peace and non violence in the world. Let us preserve it with all over strength not just from foreign invaders but also from forces that spread insurgency, militancy, regional in-equilibrium, fundamentalism and social imbalances. Thank god Indian democracy has seen all its elements people of all walks of life decorating the highest office.


Dr. V.S. Acharya, State minister of Medical Education


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Freedom is an expression – for India the expression of freedom looks very bright and promising, particularly after the Liberaliation, Globalisation and Privatization, where people take command of their economic, social and political life in this country.  In the 60th year of independence it is good to note that life in India has become easier for most of us but it also becomes our duty to spread the sense of freedom and the responsibilities that come with it. 


B. Janardhana Poojary, Rajya Sabha MP 


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To me Independence is a nation full of hopes. Hopes of dignified life for one and all.  Hopes of end of ignorance, disease and hunger.  Independence and freedom have a common objective ? each child, woman and elder person should live in free world doing his bit to the nation and helping the country to extend the fruits of freedom. It is the beauty of democracy that India in its 60th year got a Woman as its president. 
 
H.D. Deve Gowda,  Former Prime Minister of India


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In the last 60 years of independence the country was unable to wipe the tears off the eyes of the poor and the marginalized classes. The fruits of freedom are being enjoyed by only few classes of people who have no hunger, ignorance or disease. The meaning of independence comes to primacy when the country as a whole stands up as one to protect the livelihood of farmers, dalits and the downtrodden?. 
 
B. Nagaraja Shetty, State minister for Fisheries and Religious Endowments 


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Freedom and independence has a special significance for me.  I being a servant of the people it is my duty to take the spirit of independence to the people in more than one way I can.  By empowering them socially, giving them the power of the democracy at their door steps?.  
 
D.V. Sadananda Gowda, MP of Mangalore


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The very spirit of democracy is freedom.  Freedom of choice of your leaders, freedom of choice of your profession and that of your language, religion and the government.  If that freedom is not there then there is no democracy?..


Mangalorean.com thanks all the above participants for their valuable inputs and co-operation and wishes all its readers a Very Happy 60th Independence Day! Jai Hind!


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