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75 Years of Independence: The Changing Landscape of India

  • 14 Aug 2022

There is an old saying that India is a new country but an ancient civilization, and this civilization has seen tremendous changes throughout its history.

From being an education hub of the world in ancient times to becoming the IT hub of the world today, the Indian landscape has come a long way. Taking 15th August 1947 as our frame of reference, we find that there are several fields like Science and Technology, economy, and human development where India has shown remarkable progress. However, some fields like health and education still seem to be taken care of. Let us look at these aspects of Indian development individually.

The Landscape of Science and Technology

When the Britishers left India, they left behind a broken, needy, underdeveloped, and economically unstable country. After independence, India prioritized scientific research in its first five-year plan. It paved the way for prestigious scientific institutes like IITs and IISC. After just three years of independence, the Indian Institute of Technology has established in 1950. These institutions promoted research in India with the aid of foreign institutions. From launching its first satellite Aryabhatta in 1975 to being the first country to reach the orbit of Mars, India has taken confident strides in the field of space research technology, thanks to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). We can proudly state that India is standing at par with countries like USA and China, same goes with the field of biotechnology also where India is producing vaccines for the entire world. The success of UPI is also a case study for the world with 9.36 billion transactions worth Rs. 10.2 trillion in Q1 of 2022 only.

Economic Landscape

India faced several issues following its independence, including illiteracy, corruption, poverty, gender discrimination, untouchability, regionalism, and communalism. Numerous issues have acted as major roadblocks to India's economic development. When India declared its independence in 1947, its GDP was mere 2.7 lakh crore accounting for 3% of the world GDP. In 1965, the Green Revolution was started in India by M. S. Swaminathan, the father of the Green Revolution. During the Green Revolution, there was a significant increase in the crop area planted with high-yielding wheat and rice types. From 1978–1979, the Green Revolution led to a record grain output of 131 million tonnes. India was then recognized as one of the top agricultural producers in the world. With the construction of linked facilities like factories and hydroelectric power plants, a large number of jobs for industrial workers were also generated in addition to agricultural workers.

Today India is the 5th largest economy in the world with 147 lakh crore GDP, accounting for 8% of global GDP. In recent years, India has seen a whopping rise of 15,400% in the number of startups, which rose from 471 in 2016 to 72,993 as of June 2022. This phenomenal rise in startups has also produced millions of new jobs in the country.

Infrastructure

The India of today is different from India at the time of freedom. In the 75 years of independence, Indian Infrastructure has improved drastically. The overall length of the Indian road network has grown from 0.399 million km in 1951 to 4.70 million km as of 2015, which makes it the third largest roadway network in the world. Additionally, India's national highway system now spans 1, 37, 625 kilometres in 2021, up from 24,000 km (1947–1969).

After over 70 years of independence, India has risen to become Asia's third-largest electricity generator. It increased its ability to produce energy from 1,362 MW in 1947 to 3, 95, 600 MW. In India, the total amount of power produced increased from 301 billion units in 1992–1993 to 400990.23 MW in 2022. The Indian government has succeeded in lighting up all 18,452 villages by April 28, 2018, as opposed to just 3061 in 1950, when it comes to rural electrification.

The Landscape of Human Development

In 1947 India had a population of 340 million with a literacy rate of just 12%, today it has a population of nearly 1.4 billion and a literacy rate of 74.04%. The average life expectancy has also risen from 32 years to 70 years in 2022.

The Landscape of Education and Health

In 1947, India had a population of 340 million with a literacy rate of just 12%, today it has a population of nearly 1.4 billion and a literacy rate of 74.04%. The average life expectancy has also risen from 32 years to 70 years in 2022. Though India has shown remarkable progress In terms of literacy rate, the quality of higher education is still a cause of major concern. There is not a single Indian University or Institute in the top 100 QS World University Ranking. With the largest youth population in the world, India can achieve wonders if its youth get equipped with proper skills and education. The health, sector is also worrisome. The doctor-to-patient ratio is merely 0.7 doctors per 1000 people as compared to the WHO average of 2.5 doctors per 1000 people. A recent study shows that 65% of medical expenses in India are paid out of pocket by patients and the reason is that they are left with no alternative but to access private healthcare because of poor facilities in public hospitals.

The Political Landscape

Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed as India's first prime minister in 1947, following the end of British rule. He promoted a socialist-economic system for India, including five-year plans and the nationalization of large sectors of the economy like mining, steel, aviation, and other heavy industries. Village common areas were taken, and a massive public works and industrialization drive led to the building of important dams, roads, irrigation canals, thermal and hydroelectric power plants, and many other things. India's population surpassed 500 million in the early 1970s, but the “Green Revolution” significantly increased agricultural productivity, which helped to end the country's long-standing food problem.

From 1991 to 1996, India's economy grew quickly as a result of the policies implemented by the late Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao and his Finance Minister at the time, Dr Manmohan Singh. Poverty had decreased to about 22%, while unemployment has been continuously reducing. Growth in the gross domestic product exceeded 7%.

India's first female Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, held office from 1966 until 1977 for three consecutive terms before serving a fourth term (1980–84). India elected Pratibha Patil as its first female president in 2007.

India's economy has expanded significantly in the twenty-first century. Under the Prime ministership of Narendra Modi (BJP), many significant changes have taken place like the scraping of Section 370, strengthening the Defence systems, creating a startup-friendly environment and much more. To expand infrastructure and manufacturing, the Modi administration launched several programs and campaigns, including “Make in India”, “Digital India”, and the “Swachh Bharat project.”

The Legal Landscape

Before independence, the Privy Council was the highest appellate authority in India. This Council was abolished as the first action following independence. The abolition of the Privy Council Jurisdiction Act was passed by the Indian Constituent Assembly in 1949 to eliminate the Privy Council's authority over appeals from India and to make provisions for outstanding appeals. It was B. R. Ambedkar's sharp legal intellect to draft a constitution for the newly sovereign country. In all executive, legislative, and judicial matters in the nation, the Constitution of India serves as the supreme law. The Indian legal system has developed into a key component of the largest democracy in the world and a pivotal front in the fight to protect constitutional rights for all citizens. Since it was first adopted in 1950, the Indian Constitution has had 105 modifications as of October 2021. The Indian Constitution is divided into 22 parts with 395 articles. Later, through various changes, further articles were added and amendments were made. According to the online repository maintained by the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice of India as of July 2022, there are around 839 Central laws. The Indian legal system has a promising and forward-thinking future, and in the twenty-first century, young, first-generation lawyers are entering the field after graduating from the best law schools.

The Landscape of the Defence Sector

The Indian military ranked 4 of 142 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. From being defeated by the Chinese army in 1962 to becoming one of the largest defence systems in the world, India has surely learnt from its past errors. One of the reasons the Indian defence system has been able to attain its present reputation is the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) which was established in 1958. Since its founding, it has created many significant programs and critical technologies, including missile systems, small and big armaments, artillery systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems, tanks, and armoured vehicles. India began working on nuclear energy in the late 1950s and had indigenous nuclear power stations by the 1970s. India had also begun developing nuclear weapons and producing fissile material concurrently, which allowed for the purportedly harmless nuclear explosion in Pokhran in 1971. The Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP), under the direction of APJ Abdul Kalam and with the support of the Ordnance Factories, was established in 1983. In 1989, the longer-range Agni was independently designed and tested. Later, India and Russia collaborated to design and produce the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. India currently leads several other nations in the production of defences. India is one of about a dozen nations that have built and produced their fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, missiles, and aircraft carriers.

Analyzing the different landscapes of India we find that we have come a long way in our journey but still, there is a lot to be done if we want to make India a ‘super power’. A lot will depend on our people’s willingness to change, ensuring the equal participation of women in the workforce, including marginalized communities in our economic growth, and last but not least is having a liberal and progressive and unbiased mindset.

As we are celebrating “Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”, the completion of 75 years of independence can be taken as a new opportunity to build an India of our aspirations and make positive contributions to the changing landscape of India.

 Aarifa Nadeem 

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