Essay on India after Independence!
India is the world’s largest democracy. It is the only country in Asia that has remained democratic ever since it attained its independence from British rule. The only exception to this is the brief period of the Emergency in 1975-76, when the democratic process was halted.
But it is through the democratic route of elections that the ruling caucus was dethroned and an alternative government installed. But that did not last long and the Congress party returned to power by winning back the confidence of the people.
Many in the world were apprehensive of the success of democracy in India. Their belief was further strengthened when several countries in the region, including Pakistan, failed as democracies and chose an authoritarian and militarist path in its stead. But this did not happen in India, and we have crossed more than half a century as a democracy. India has falsified all the prophecies of doom. It is the ballot, and not the bullet, that reigns supreme in India.
India after Independence:
After a long and difficult freedom struggle, India attained her independence from British rule in 1947. But this independence came with the partition of the country. A new state of Pakistan was created with portions of Western and Eastern India, taken away from the Indian map.
West Pakistan took away Western Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan; East Pakistan was created with the partition of Bengal into East and West, the latter remaining with India. Thus, there was a long corridor of India that separated East Pakistan from West Pakistan. That such a formation of the new state was non-pragmatic and unworkable was proven by later events.
In 1971, East Pakistan broke its ties with the Western wing and became the separate country of Bangladesh. The subcontinent, which was once a single country, was divided into three nations. Meanwhile, the state of Sikkim, which was a separate kingdom ruled by the Chogyal monarchy, joined the Indian Union in 1975.
Independence arrived in India not only with ‘multiplicity of heritages and legacies’, but also with the pangs of partition that caused dislocation of populations on both sides. Several Muslim families from regions other than those that went to Pakistan decided to opt for the nationality of the new religious state and to migrate there, and numerous Hindu families from both East and West Pakistan got uprooted and came to India as homeless refugees.
This movement of people was not peaceful. There was a lot of bloodshed, looting, rape of women, and merciless killing of innocent people. After the creation of Bangladesh, several Muslim families, which migrated from Bihar and other adjoining states to the Eastern wing of Pakistan, suffered from similar discrimination and marginalization. India has become a shelter for several Bangladeshis who have crossed the porous border illegally and settled in several cities of India.
Their arrival in Assam, for example, caused serious problems and prompted the natives to raise the demand for repatriation of the non-Assamese. Speakers of Bengali and followers of Islam cannot be easily classified foreigners in the pluricultural society of India. Vote-bank politics has also helped in blurring their identities.
India inherited the legacy of British rule – a system of administration, an army, and a democratic form of government, based on the Government of India Act of 1935. Most important was the fact that our country retained the name India that is Bharat. We remain the mainland, while the other states are historically the breakaway groups.
The transition from a colonial country to an independent nation was not easy. Partition entailed division of resources, transfer of government personnel from one country to another, and reorientation of the bureaucracy.
As Paul R. Brass says:
“In some ways, it is possible to view Independence and the adoption in the early years after Independence of a new Constitution as another stage in the evolution of India toward representative government in a process that dates back to the Indian Councils Act of 1861 and continues through the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909, the Montagu- Chelmsford Reforms of 1919, and the Government of India Act of 1935”.But the new Constitution, which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into force on 26 January 1950, has some new features, providing a sharp break with the British colonial past.
It adopted the Westminster model of parliamentary government as against the mixed parliamentary-bureaucratic authoritarian system inherited from British India. The new Constitution included a chapter on Fundamental Rights, and also on Directive Principles, which were not there in the 1935 Act. The introduction of adult suffrage was also a new feature. The Indian polity became a mix of the unitary and federal forms of government.
The new leadership was equally interested in bringing about socio-economic reforms for which the model of a ‘socialistic pattern of society” was adopted. The contradiction thus introduced between civil liberties and governmental control has been a subject of political protests.
In addition to fundamental rights, the Constitution made special provisions for the oppressed castes and tribes by listing them in a Schedule and thus designating them as scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs). The British divided Indian society along religious lines by creating separate electorates, as part of their policy of ‘divide and rule’. But the new leadership of independent India discarded this colonial practice.
However, there was unanimity on giving special protection and privileges to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, who had allegedly suffered from discrimination at the hands of the upper caste Hindus, and who constitute the majority of India’s poor.
Designating the new state as secular was meant to convey the message that the country would not differentiate between people on the basis of religion, but allow each individual, as part of his/her fundamental right, to practice the religion of his/her choice.
This was to ensure that communalism would be contained. However, the history of the country since independence has been witness to several communal riots and the growth of political parties along religious lines.
Even the so-called secular parties contributed – perhaps unintentionally – to the prevailing communal hiatus. In their enthusiasm to protect the minority groups, the secular parties became in fact promoters of communal interests in the hope of creating vote-banks. It led to a reaction amongst the majority group of Hindus.
The role of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in promoting solidarity amongst the Hindus is seen in this political context. These non-political organizations lent their support to the Bharatiya Jan Sangh in the early days of independence, and later to its successor, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Indian polity in reality, and not as seen in constitutional terms, is characterized by a mix of tradition and modernity. The formal structure adopted in the Constitution has continually been modified by the social structure of Indian society, and by the personality profiles of India’s political leadership.
It is not the ideology, but the personality factors, that have led to the formation and dissolution of parties. Review of party manifestos issued during elections and the Common Minimum Programmes (CMPs) adopted by successive coalition governments suggests that there was little ideological distance between parties.Political distance is maintained despite ideological proximity.
The actually existing political structure has departed from the ideal as perceived by the founding fathers of our Constitution. Several amendments made to the Constitution tell that story, but only partially.
There is nothing unusual in this. All living societies continually change in response to the emerging new demands and by the behavior of its members in their different statuses and role relationships.
In the earlier phases, there were pressures from the rulers of princely states and owners of feudal estates seeking redefined roles as leaders in a functioning democracy. They entered politics by joining either the ruling Congress Party or the newly created Bharatiya Jan Sangh and the Swatantra Party (now defunct).
But as long as the nationalist leaders who took part in India’s freedom struggle were there to run the government, there was no threat to the Congress Party. The opposition remained in the minority, but was quite vocal in its criticism in Parliament and the state legislatures.
The vote politics that requires numbers led the ruling party and the dissident groups within it, as well as the parties in the opposition, to create vote-banks by invoking caste sentiments. Caste entered politics in the sense that there was, and is, politicization of caste. In this framework, even the minorities were seen as a ‘caste’ – the defining characteristic of endogamy applies to them as well.
If some political parties tried to woo the voters from a particular caste – Lodhis or Rajputs, or Brahmins others tried to woo the minority groups. One also notices a strange pattern of bringing together Muslims and the Hindu community of Yadavs, and other so-called Dalits.
While this grouping is based on sectarian considerations, it is called secular. But a coalition of castes from the Hindu and Jain and Sikh groups is decried as anti-secular. In retort, the latter call the former ‘pseudo-secular’.
In this process, words like secular and secularism have lost their originally intended meaning. All parties realize that no community or group can be neglected if one were to muster political support.
The secular parties cannot afford to neglect the Hindu vote, and the parties that are called anti-secular also have representatives of communities other than the Hindu. All parties, barring religion based organizations, claim to be secular.
Indian politics is characterized by an absence of ideology. Only lip service is paid to ideology. Parties are dominated by personalities. Leaders don’t leave and join parties on ideological grounds. Even the group of Marxists is divided into several parties. To quote Brass, “Indian politics has been characterized by an all-pervasive instrumentalism which washes away party manifestoes, rhetoric, and effective implementation of policies in an unending competition for power, status, and profit.”
The Congress party started as a movement that was joined by people from all sections; its sole aim was to oust the British and establish Swaraj. After the attainment of that aim, Mahatma Gandhi proposed dissolution of the Congress, but it was shot down.
The euphoria of independence was so overwhelming, and the leaders of the movement so respected by the common man, that the Congress party appeared to be the natural heir to the throne. Leaders defecting from the Congress party formed most other parties later.
Students of democracy know that its proper functioning requires an opposition. In the United States, for example, there are two parties – Democratic and Republican – between whom power alternates. But in India, continuance of the Congress rule with no threat of its replacement gave rise to, what came to be known as one-party dominant system.
People found this system similar to that of the Soviet state. This system fulfilled the requirement of the democratic process by creating internal dissensions within the Congress party itself.
These were referred to as the ‘ruling group’ and the ‘dissident group’, and power, particularly at the level of the states, alternated between these groups, but remained with the Congress. But India’s political situation is changing. This change is taking place on several frontiers. Let us briefly mention the major changes in Indian polity that have occurred since 1947.
After the implementation of plans, efforts were made to spread education.
Government decided to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14. But this aim could not be achieved yet.
In First Five Year Plan 7.9% of total plan outlay was allocated for education. In Second and Third Plan, the allocations were 5.8% and 6.9% of the total plan outlay. In Ninth Plan only 3.5% of the total outlay was allocated for education.
To streamline the education, the Govt. implemented the recommendations of Kothari Commission under ‘National Policy on Education’ in 1968. The main recommendations were universal primary education. Introduction of new pattern of education, three language formula, introduction of regional language in higher education, development of agricultural and industrial education and adult education.
To combat the changing socio-economic needs of the country, Govt. of India announced a new National Policy on Education in 1986. Universalisation of primary education, vocationalisation of secondary education and specialisation of higher education were the main features of this policy.
National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) at National level and State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) at State level were established to maintain the standard of education. University Grants Commission (UGC) was instituted to determine the standard of higher education.
The following points explain the development of education in India after independence:
1. Expansion of General Education:
During the period of planning there has been expansion of general education. In 1951, the percentage of literacy was 19.3. In 2001 the literacy percentage increased to 65.4%. The enrolment ratio of children in the age group of 6-11 was 43% in 1951 and in it became 100% in 2001.
Primary education – been free and compulsory. Midday meal has been started in schools since 1995 to check drop-out rate. The number of primary schools has risen by three times from 2.10 lakh (1950-51) to 6.40 lakhs (2001-02). There were only 27 universities in 1950-51 which increased to 254 in 2000-01.
2. Development of Technical Education:
Besides general education, technical education plays important role in human capital formation. The Govt. has established several Industrial Training Institutes, Polytechnics, Engineering colleges and Medical and Dental colleges, Management institutes etc.
These are given below:
(a)Indian Institute of Technology:
For education and research in engineering and technology of international standard, seven institutes have been established at Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Chennai, Khargpur, Roorkee and Gauhati, Technical education is imparted here both for graduation and post-graduation and doctorate level.
(b)National Institute of Technology (NIT):
These institutes impart education in engineering and technology. These were called Regional College of Engineering (REC). These are 17 in number throughout the country. There are other institutes in the country to teach engineering and technical education.
(c)Indian Institute of Management:
These institutes impart education in business management and administration. These institutes are located at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode.
There were only 28 medical colleges in the country in 1950-51. There were 165 medical and 40 dental colleges in the country in 1998-99.
Agricultural Universities have been started in almost all States to improve production and productivity of agriculture. These universities impart education and research in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and veterinary sciences etc.
3. Women education:
In India, literary among women was quite low. It was 52% according to 2001 census. While the literacy among men was 75.8%. Women education was given top priority in National Policy on Education. Many State Governments have exempted the tuition fee of girl’s up to university level. Separate schools and colleges have been established to raise level of literacy among women.
4. Vocational education:
National Policy of Education, 1986, aims at vocationalisation of secondary education. Central Govt. has been giving grants to State Governments to implement the programme since 1988. Agriculture, Pisciculture, diary, poultry, typing, electronics, mechanical and carpentry etc. had been included in higher secondary curriculum.
5. Growth of higher education:
In 1951, there were 27 universities. Their number increased to 254 in 2001. In Orissa state, there was only one university in 1951. Now there are 9 universities.
6. Non-formal education:
This scheme was launched on an experimental basis from the Sixth plan and on regular basis from Seventh plan. The aim was to achieve universal elementary education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years. The scheme was meant for those children who cannot attend schools regularly and for full time due to poverty and pre-occupation with other works.
The Central Govt. is providing assistance to State Govt. and voluntary organisation to implement the scheme. Non-formal education centres have been set up in remote rural areas, hilly and tribal areas and in slums. These impart education to children of 6-14 age group.
7. Encouragement to Indian Language and Culture:
After the adoption of National Policy of Education 1968, regional language became the medium of instruction in higher education. Syllabus on science and technology, dictionaries, books, and Question Papers are translated into regional languages. Indian history and culture have been included in school and college curriculum.
8. Adult education:
Simply speaking adult education refers to the education for the illiterate people belonging to the age group of 15-35 years. The National Board of Adult Education was established in the First Five Year Plan. The village level workers were assigned the job of providing adult education. The progress remained not too good.
The National Adult Education Programme was started in 1978. The programme is considered as a part of primary education. National Literary Mission was also started in 1988 to eradicate adult illiteracy particularly in rural areas.
The Centre gives assistance to states, voluntary organisations and some selected universities to implement this programme. There were 2.7 lakh adult education centres working in the country in 1990-91. This programme helped to raise the literacy rate to 65.38% in 2001.
9. Improvement of Science education:
Central Govt. started a scheme for the improvement of science education in schools in 1988. Financial assistance is given to provide science kits, up gradation of science laboratories, development of teaching material, and training of science and mathematics teachers. A Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET) was set up in NCERT to purchase equipment for State Institutes of Educational Technology.
10. Education for all:
According to 93rd Amendment, education for all has been made compulsory. The elementary education is a fundamental right of all children in the age group of 6-14 years. It is also free. To fulfill this obligation Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has been launched.
The above discussion makes it clear that a lot of development in education has been made in India after Independence. There is wide growth in general education and higher education. Efforts have been made to spread education among all sections and all regions of the country. Still our education system is ridden with problems.