Wednesday, September 21Inside Business Africa

The birth of a new nation

The challenges of nationhood notwithsdanding, India has come a long way in these 74 years.

India Prime Minister, Narendra Modi

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India shall awake to life and freedom.” These were not just words from any ordinary speech but the very first Prime Minister of Independent India was addressing the nation for the very first time. This independence he claimed was not free, according the him, the leaders  had to pay a huge price for it. Many have sacrificed their valuable lives, thousands have attained martyrdom so that this coming generation would be able to live a life of liberty.

As India celebrates its 74th Independence day on 15th August 2020, it is of utmost importance and prestige and that the people remember all those because of whom they were able to live freely today. The country and the people have had challenges in the social, political and cultural sphere of governance but have been able to breach the fortress of distress and anguish every time through peace and harmony.

When India gained independence on 15th August 1947, many power centres and political experts of the West claimed that the country could not even survive as a democracy for 10 years. The founding fathers of the nation realized the values of the constitution and ensured equality, liberty and justice to all irrespective of religion, caste, race or sex.    The Constitution framers also sensed the upcoming dangers on its fragile democracy and made certain that the earned democracy will not anyhow be changed to majoritarian rule. When the West claimed that India would not be able to accommodate such a large diversity and would tear apart in the near future, the country standing up together till now is one of the biggest accomplishments. But why did not India break apart? The answer is because of the remarkable generation of Indians in the Constituent Assembly who united the country politically, emotionally, and socially, legitimising this unity through the document they call the Constitution of India.

If India had been a start-up in August 1947, not even the most venturesome of venture capitalists would have invested in it. No new nation was born in more inhospitable circumstances. The Partition of the country had been awful enough, in the scale of its violence and the mass displacement of people from their homes. All this occurred against the backdrop of food scarcities, shortages of foreign exchange, and the refusal of the large and strategically vital princely states to join the Indian Union. The question still remains that what has actually been achieved in all these years after independence?

When the country attained independence, the literacy was less than 10%. The market was ruined by the British. Economic growth could no where be seen. Public institutions were not developed. Schools, colleges and hospitals were still a big dream even for the middle class. Agriculture existed but was in primitive state. Industries were in poor condition. Labour laws were even worse. Average life expectancy was hardly 30-35 years. There was a huge difference in sex ratio. Connectivity was not visible. People were distressed. Per capita income as claimed by the famous Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia was a meagre 3 anna. Nobody could think of a self-reliant India which Gandhiji used to preach about. This was the India which had to be re built, reformed and re developed.

The challenges of nationhood nothwithsdanding India have come up a long way in these 74 years. The country have achieved much and yet to accomplish much more. It is the idea of Indian nationalism which holds and binds the people. India is still a democracy because the nation has been able to respect every opinion. Criticism is always necessary for the existence of a healthy and successful democracy. This is what Indian nationalism is all about.

An instance which can be recalled here is when India became independent in 1947, many social groups including the Communist Party of India termed this Azaadi (Independence) as a hoax and refused to believe that India is free. They never believed it till the further 10 years and mobilised others to believe the same. But Nehru and Patel never called them ‘Anti-Nationals’. They wanted to instead talk to them and hold deliberations but they never put them behind the bars for not believing that india was not independent.

The space you provide for the opposition or dissidence is what that determines the efficiency of a democracy. It is high time that India learn this lesson soon and start working on what is left to be worked upon.

As nations across the globe rejoice with India on this 74th Independence, Inside Business Africa, understanding the peculiar relationship between Nigeria and India, we decided to speak with key private sector players that are in the forefront of building stronger Indo-Nigeria relationship.  One of such player is Sunil Vaswani, Group Chairman of Stallion Goup whose conglomerate is in almost all sectors of the Nigerian economy – from agriculture to automobile manufacturing, steel and more.  The Group Chief Executive of Stallion Group speaks on the performance and contributions of the 50 year old conglomerate to the Nigerian economy.

Prestige Assurance Plc, a member of New India Assurance, Mumbai, India has been in Nigeria for almost 68 years, way before Nigeria’s Independence and remains a leading pioneer of insurance business in Nigeria. The Managing Director, Mr. Sarbeswar Sahoo speaks on the company’s offerings and while it still remains the “Advantage Prestige”. which is our cover story in this very important month of August.

Our sincere congratulations to all India Nationals in Nigeria and India Nation on this remarkable milestone of 74th Independence

Story by Mr Kenneth Odusola-Stevenson, Publisher Inside Business Africa Magazine

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