A month Online Immersive Intermediate Certificate Training Course on Contours of Public Policy in India in Amrit Kaal was organized by IMPRI. The topics for the Day 7 of the online program were A New Idea for India, Key trends issues in India’s State Finances and Key Challenges Facing India’s Foreign Policy.
The session began with A New Idea for India by Mr. Harsh Gupta Madhusudan, Author of A New Idea of India: Individual Rights in a Civilizational State; Investor.
A New Idea for India
Mr. Harsh introduced his book first. Few countries have experienced shifts as profound and inspiring as the Republic of India has throughout the great fabric of history. India’s history, which spans from the prehistoric Indus Valley civilization to the wars for independence, is a tribute to human perseverance, diversity, and the desire for a better future.
However, despite India’s advances in a number of areas, problems still exist and new ones keep cropping up. A riveting examination of India’s past, present, and future, “A New Idea for India” provides a vision for the country’s future. We set out on a quest in these pages to rethink, reenergize, and alter the future of this magnificent country.
“A New Idea for India” is not just a book; it’s a vision. It’s an exploration of possibilities, a challenge to conventions, and a celebration of the resilience that defines the Indian spirit. Whether you are a policymaker, an entrepreneur, a student, or simply someone who cares deeply about the future of India, this book is your invitation to be part of a new narrative, to shape the India of your dreams.
As we embark on this journey of discovery and reinvention, let us remember the timeless words of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s time to be that change, to craft a new idea for India.
History of India
In 1947, India declared its independence from British colonial authority, and it then began a tremendous process of nation-building. Political, economic, and social transformations of a large scale occurred in the years following independence. With Jawaharlal Nehru as its first Prime Minister, India chose a democratic system of governance, becoming the largest democracy in the world. Social justice, economic progress, and secularism were priorities under Nehru’s administration. During the Cold War, the nation followed a non-alignment policy in international relations.
The nation has had to deal with a number of difficulties, including hostilities with China and Pakistan, two neighbors. India has achieved social strides in fields like healthcare and education, yet issues like caste prejudice, poverty, and gender inequality still exist.
Today, India is a rapidly growing economy with a diverse cultural landscape and a vibrant democracy. It continues to grapple with the complexities of a rapidly changing society while striving to address pressing issues such as economic inequality, environmental sustainability, and social justice. The history of post-independence India is a testament to its resilience and determination to navigate the challenges of a complex and diverse nation while upholding democratic values and aspirations for progress.
Ancient civilization into Modern India
He went on to explain how ancient India became modern India. India has undergone a millennia-long transition from an ancient civilization to modernity. India’s history is a fabric made of both constant change and discontinuity. The Indus Valley and Vedic civilizations of ancient India laid the intellectual and cultural foundations that still have an impact on contemporary India.
However, because British control left an irreparable stamp on India’s institutions and infrastructure, the colonial era was when significant transformation occurred. In 1947, when India gained its freedom under the leadership of individuals like Mahatma Gandhi, the independence struggle came to a successful conclusion. Following independence, the nation undertook a voyage of political, economic, and social transformation under the guidance of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru. Economic liberalization in the 1990s opened India to the global stage, fostering rapid development and urbanization.
He concluded that today, India stands as a dynamic, diverse, and modern nation, proud of its ancient heritage while embracing the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.
Hinduism as Commonwealth of religion
Since Hinduism has had such a significant impact on Indian culture, philosophy, and way of life, it is frequently referred to as the “Commonwealth of Religion” in that nation. It is more than just a religion; it is an intricate and wide-ranging tapestry of values, customs, and practices that have developed over many centuries.
Furthermore, he added, its philosophical depth gave rise to a variety of schools of thought, such as Vedanta and Yoga, which have had a significant influence not just in India but also internationally.
In modern India, Hinduism continues to be a source of spiritual and cultural identity for the majority of the population. It coexists with other religions, fostering a diverse and pluralistic society. Thus, Hinduism stands as a commonwealth of religion that reflects India’s rich and multifaceted spiritual heritage, offering a tapestry of beliefs and practices that have endured and evolved over centuries.
Secularism in Modern India
Mr. Harsh mentioned Secularism in modern India is a foundational principle enshrined in its constitution and a guiding ethos that defines the nation’s diverse and pluralistic character. India’s commitment to secularism is rooted in its desire to ensure religious freedom, equality, and harmony among its citizens, regardless of their faith or belief.
The secular nature of the state is clearly established by the 1950-adopted Indian Constitution. It ensures religious freedom, outlaws discrimination based on religion, and requires that politics and religion be kept apart. It is still important to strike a balance between protecting religious freedom and resolving conflicts between different religions.
The idea of secularism is a crucial component of India’s national identity in modern times, supporting social cohesiveness and the defense of individual rights. It demonstrates India’s dedication to preserving a diverse and peaceful society while handling the challenges of a multireligious country.
Decolonizing Indian States
After obtaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947, the decolonization of Indian states was a complex and difficult task. It entailed establishing sovereignty once more, creating fresh political frameworks, and resolving colonialism’s aftereffects.
With the passage of the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which split the nation into the sovereign states of India and Pakistan along religious lines, decolonization in India officially began. Mass migrations and intercommunal violence were consequences of this tumultuous and traumatic division process.
Finally he added despite the challenges and complexities, the process of decolonizing Indian states was a transformative period in the nation’s history. It laid the foundation for modern India, characterized by its commitment to democracy, pluralism, and economic development, while also addressing the historical injustices of colonial rule
He explained 1977 as one of the best times in India as it was a great shift in India’s position. In 1977, India experienced a significant political shift that had a profound impact on its governance and policies. Here’s a brief overview of India’s position in 1977:
1.Promotion of Democracy: The change in government in 1977 underscored the strength and stability of India’s democratic system. It demonstrated that power could peacefully transition from one political party to another through free and fair elections.
2.Economic Policies: The Janata Party government pursued economic policies that aimed to reduce government control and encourage economic liberalization. However, the government’s tenure was marked by economic challenges and differences within the coalition.
3.Foreign Policy: India’s foreign policy remained focused on non-alignment and maintaining good relations with both the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. However, the government did face diplomatic challenges, including dealing with the fallout from India’s 1974 nuclear test.
4.Emergency Period: The 1977 elections came after a period of political turmoil in India. In 1975, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties. The 1977 elections were seen as a referendum on her government’s actions, and the subsequent change in leadership marked a return to democratic norms.
He summarized , 1977 was a pivotal year in India’s political history. It marked a shift away from single-party dominance and demonstrated the strength of India’s democratic institutions.
Position of Modern India
Later, he briefed about the current situation of modern India. India has emerged as one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies, driven by a burgeoning middle class, a thriving technology sector, and ambitious economic reforms initiated in the 1990s. It has become a hub for information technology, pharmaceuticals, and various other industries. However, it continues to grapple with challenges related to income inequality and unemployment.
India’s democracy is a cornerstone of its identity, with regular free and fair elections and a multiparty system. Despite the complexities of its diversity, it maintains a federal structure that balances the powers of the central government and states. However, it also faces challenges related to political polarization and governance.
Finally, his session ended elaborating about how modern India has made significant progress in various domains, it also confronts pressing challenges, including poverty alleviation, healthcare access, environmental sustainability, and social equality. Its position on the global stage continues to evolve as it navigates these challenges and opportunities in the 21st century.
Acknowledgement: Riya is a Research Intern at IMPRI.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organization.
Read more event reports of IMPRI here:
Posted by Chaitanya Deshpande, Research Intern at IMPRI.