Understanding India: The Network Capital Playlist
India at 77
These essential guide to understanding India:
Reimagining India at 75 and beyond
Happy Independence Day, India
India has been called an unnatural nation, a paradox, a puzzle and a political gamble. A statistical analysis of the relationship between democracy and development in 135 countries found that the odds against democracy in India were inordinately high.
We were predicted to be a dictatorship during the entire period of study (1950–1990). The fact that we were by and large a democracy during that period and continue to be so against all odds, is nothing short of a miracle. In fact, the historian Ram Guha goes to extent of saying that the real success story of modern India lies not in the domain of economics but in that of politics.
Let us explore the so called political gamble a bit more. At the time of independence, life expectancy was 32 years, literacy rate was 12% (7% for women), contribution to global GDP was 2% (down from 23% before British arrived) and we suffered over 1 million partition deaths. Even at that time, India had the vision and clarity of purpose to emerge as a pluralist, secular and democratic republic.
I am in no way trying to gloss over the growing up pains that manifested in innumerable mistakes we made (and continue to make) — adopting an economically insular outlook, investing a mere pittance in primary education, ignoring efficient healthcare delivery mechanisms, building a clunky bureaucracy etc. — but our chutzpah to commit to the core values of nation building is admirable.
I remain bullish on India even though we have many things to figure out and some existential debates to grapple with.
Do I feel less patriotic when I learn about some shortcomings of India? Absolutely not.
Patriotism is a collective, dynamic project we are all actively involved with. National pride should not be made of glass. Smart critiques should strengthen it, not shatter it.
That is why we should not confuse patriotism with nationalism
🧠A simple mental model
❤️Patriotism = I love my country, accept its flaws and promise to address them (at least try)
Nationalism = I ONLY love my country, my country is perfect and superior to others
India should not strive to prove its status. Instead, we should let data and stories reveal themselves as they are.
“The harder we work to prove our status, the more insecure we appear. Respect is rarely claimed through acts of self-importance. It's regularly earned through making others feel important. The people we admire are those who go out of their way to help us feel seen and heard.”
We have come a long way but there are miles to go before we sleep.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”
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