Yes, the Republic of India officially turns 59 tomorrow. We celebrate our freedom from the oppressive rule of the British who plundered our country for nearly three centuries. Yes, they gave us a lot but they took away much more.
As we look back at these 59 years, we can take pride in what we have achieved in the short time we have enjoyed our independence. Yet, there is a long, hard path ahead. And the magnanimity of the task is so enormous that there are times when I, as a citizen of the country, feel so helpless. Helpless about the bad roads, the rude bastard who sits across the counter at the government-owned telephone company telling me that I should have clipped the cheque instead of stapling it and throwing my payment back at my face, the corrupt politicians who milk the government of my hard-earned money to buy cars they don't need and homes they will never live in... beyond helpless, frustrated, pissed off that I have wait in line for everything, from getting admission in hospital for an emergency case to getting admission to kindergarden. Yet, there is much that I owe to the country.
The fact that I can type this, use the Internet, have access to water, sanitation, electricity, the best education the country has, a roof over my head, a safe place to go to after work, a safe place to work at... is glaring proof that I have received more than at least 800 million Indians. I have got the best that country has to offer. Yes, it may not be what I would ideally want but it's still the best. And with all I've got, if all I can think of is buying a bigger apartment, a fancier car and a megapixel camera cellphone, I'm probably doing myself the greatest disservice. Giving up my chance to give back to the country. There's nothing wrong with having my playthings. But it can't be the be-all and end-all of my life.
As a citizen who has received the best, it is a duty to give back my best. I have a responsibility to the nation. To give back. And I'm not talking about writing out a cheque. I'm talking about committing time and effort to do something about a cause that is close to my heart. If Mahatma Gandhi's dream could give us Independence, then what can't you and I achieve working together? On this Independence Day, August 15, 2006, I pledge that I will do whatever I can to do my bit for the country. I may not have the money to mobilise a huge movement, but I have ideas, dreams and some talent somewhere in me. It may not be a lot, but that's all I've got right now. And, for now, it is what I will give.
One quote that always inspires me is this one by Nehru, our first Prime Minister...
"A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."
Happy Independence Day India!