Democracy has been institutionalized in India

Dear Editor,

August 15 marks the 65th Independence day for India.  Massive celebrations are usually held throughout India on this day.  Indians are proud to celebrate the 64th anniversary of the founding of the nation (1947). Many other countries throughout the Third World, especially in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean owe their independence because of India’s freedom. In fact, several nations modelled their struggle for nationhood after India’s.  Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, pursued a peaceful battle for self rule.  Caribbean leaders pursued and adopted the same method. Dr. Jagan, for example, was a Gandhian and Nehruvian. And during the anti-colonial movement in India, several other nations developed the courage to begin their struggle for freedom telling the British they wanted self rule.  And when India got independence, other countries demanded their freedom as well. But unlike almost every other independent nation during the 1940s thru 1980s, India did not become an authoritarian state. The country has retained democratic governance except a brief period of emergency rule.

This feature of her rule stands out in stark contrast to other nations.

India’s neighbours have descended into dictatorships. Guyana descended into a dictatorship just two years after independence.

Independence Day is one of the most important days in Indian history making the nation a truly sovereign state after 100 years of British rule. The country finally realized the dream of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and other freedom fighters who fought for the independence of the country. A national holiday is declared in celebration of the occasion and in tribute to those who made sacrifices to free others.

People celebrate the occasion with processions and ceremonies and hoist the tricolour flag of India at various locations. As in other countries, Independence Day is celebrated with much enthusiasm especially in the capital, New Delhi, where the celebrations start with the Prime Minister’s hoisting of the
tri-colour flag and his address to the nation at the Red Fort early in the morning followed by the national parade of the troops. The parade through the heart of Delhi displays India’s military power and cultural traditions. The occasion is a reminder of and tribute to the sacrifice of the martyrs who died for the country during the freedom movement and the succeeding wars for the defence of sovereignty of their country. The parade is followed by a pageant of spectacular displays from the different states of the country. The patriotic fervour of the people on this day brings the whole country together.

India has remained a democracy unlike many other many countries (such as Guyana and most of Africa) that slipped into authoritarian rule.

India has not fallen to the lure of dictatorship. Indian rulers have developed respect for democratic concepts. This is the main factor that has strengthened India’s democracy that has no equal the world over.

India is one of the few countries where the army has consistently refused to interfere in the political process and has insisted on loyally upholding the law as interpreted by the independent judiciary that of late has been posing serious questions to the President and the cabinet and even forcing them to come to court. The growth and expansion of democracy in India has been full of pitfalls but democracy has been institutionalized. Corruption is a major issue but the people are organizing to fight corruption.

Since India’s Independence in 1947, India has overcome many adversities. Since becoming a nation, India has made great strides as a nation – becoming the seventh most industrialized nation in the world and consolidating its democratic credential. She is becoming the envy of the world with her economic progress and military prowess and the willingness to share her wealth and technology with the less developed countries. India has the potential to be one of the great powers of the 21st Century.

It is self-sufficient in food. It produces enough drinking water and is addressing the issue of the shortage of electricity.  It has a huge base of professionals in the areas of medicine, science and technology supplying the developed countries. It has developed a missile system that is among the best in the world and it has the third largest armed forces with enough experience of combat in diverse terrains. India is a nuclear weapon state with a defined doctrine of ‘no first use’. Today, India is among the largest donors of aid to poor countries. As a percentage of its budget, India is the world’s largest donor to poor.

Guyana is a major beneficiary of India’s largesse.  On a per capita basis, Guyana is the largest recipient of Indian aid.

Congrats to the nation on the occasion of her independence.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram

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