India should be ideally described as an amalgamation of all kinds of contradictions within it. Religious fault lines co-exist with the immense egalitarian access to spirituality across the groups & classes in India. EM Galbraith, the first American ambassador to free India once described it as a ‘functional anarchy’.
Repressed anarchy may well be a feature of our contemporary times, but there are offshoots of order as well. At the independence, let us try to see those events after which India didn’t remain the same.
The 1st constitutional amendment, 1951
Within one year of adopting a constitution, several fissures were exposed between the implementation of the constitution & the values it enshrined.
Landholder/zamindari abolition act came in direct confrontation with the right to property under the fundamental rights of the constitution. Other issues included the organizer magazine issue & the rise of Naxalism in east India.
Ultimately, the government decided to intervene through a constitutional amendment which added the infamous 9th schedule to the constitution.
It changed the legal recourse of India forever.
Indo-China War, 1962
The Asian relations conference was heralded as an event of a great inflexion wherein the newly de-colonized Nations in Afro-Asia asserted themselves for the first time in world politics. India & China became the natural leaders of the programme, which also saw a subtle competition over the leadership of the same.
The resultant pacifism on part of India under Nehru contrasted with the increasingly expansionist assertion of China under Mao Tse-tung.
That phase of Indo-China relations saw a knee-jerk breakage in the aftermath of the war in 1962.
The war gave a painstaking birth to strategic realism in India.
Agencies such as RAW & SFF were built and given an impetus, while National security received a fresh new zeal in terms of modernization and greater overhaul under the then charismatic defence minister of India, YB Chavan.
The overall overhaul of Indian defence proved crucial in a number of major wars and peacekeeping missions of India in the 20th century.
First Pokhran nuclear test, 1974
India defied the world order to conduct its first nuclear tests at Pokharan, Rajasthan, in the aftermath of the Bangladesh liberation war.
The USA during the course of that war decided to militarily intervene in the conflict, by sending a number of advanced weapons & defence supplies to Pakistan under the Baghdad pact.
However, things went really downhill when it directly decided to engage in gunboat diplomacy with India, deploying USS Abraham in the vicinity of Indian territories in the southwest.
Since the time of independence, this was the first time in free India’s history where The Indian state didn’t have an answer to the impending threat that was given.
The resultant paranoia gave a nod to the militarization of nuclear technology in India. The nuclear debate was also ongoing since independence in India, where the final outcome was realism in the face of mortal danger।
Nuclear tests also paved way for the development of conventional defence systems in India such as Hydrogen bombs & Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
Mandal commission report, 1989
Mandal commission was constituted by the Janta party government under Morarji Desai in 1979. It was an attempt to identify the ‘socially & economically backward classes’ within The Hindu society post-independence.
The underlying rationale behind it was the rise of the ‘middle castes’ as a political force in India who aspired to more political & bureaucratic representation.
The politics which ensued included the socialist movement which gave birth to a number of current non-congress political parties, including the BJP.
However, things were never the same when the Mandal Commission report was finally implemented almost a decade later by the VP Singh government in the year 1989.
This radically changes the dominant political discourse in India. The issue of reservation among other things is part of modern politics in India.
The Economic Reforms, 1991
The welfare State post-independence had a number of successes to its credit. Creating stable employment levels, industrial growth & reducing import dependence were unfortunately not one of them.
The government began to think of the problem seriously and initiated a number of initial reforms during the 1980s. However, it was perceived as a measure too little too late.
A number of developments both domestic & international only added to the fire. The Iran-Iraq war, weaker Soviet Union, high fiscal deficits & social disorder in India meant that only the full spectrum reform was the workable alternative.
National bankruptcy in 1989 became the trigger point for the full spectrum of economic reforms, initiated in 1991 under PV Narasimha Rao with assistance from the World Bank & the IMF. The current state of the Indian economy owes its origin to the same.
Ram Mandir Movement, 1992
The religious dispute over the claimed birthplace of Bhagwan Ram beneath the Babri Mosque saw several periods of the political rule against its resolution. The dispute regained light in the view of Indian independence in 1948.
It ultimately snowballed into a socio-political movement with the active involvement of the BJP leadership along with other prominent wings of the ‘Sangh Parivar such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad & the Bajrang Dal.
Ram mandir movement reached its climax when the karsevaks or the holy volunteers organized themselves into a supposedly coordinated demolition of the disputed mosque, thus bringing a new political phase in the rise of Hindutva as a political ideology.
The second nuclear test assumes significance from a number of perspectives. India developed an entire nuclear programme without signing the NPT; without letting the CIA know about it; without taking technological help from any nation. It marked the transition of India to middle power status.
COVID-19 response, 2020-21
India showed remarkable resilience during the times of covid as a society, and as a nation. What marked the difference for India was the sheer scale of economies in the implementation of major response programmes।
The largest production and vaccination programme in recent world history along with the welfare schemes for around 800 million people during the peak of the pandemic puts India on a confident note of tackling other major health contingencies in the future.